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CATALYZE EduFinance - DRC Mobilizing Private Finance and Improving Learning Outcomes for Congolese Children, especially Girls


The USAID CATALYZE activity leverages private capital and provides loans and technical support to low-fee non state schools, prioritizing girls and learners from low-income families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu, and Lubumbashi) to increase access and quality of education for children and youth.

  • Project Duration: Dec 2020 – Sep 2024
  • Sectors: pre-primary, primary, and secondary private schools and école conventionnées (faith-based schools)
  • Focus: Low fee non-state schools, especially those prioritizing girls and learners from low-income families Implementing
  • Partner: Palladium International, Opportunity International

The Challenge

The education system in DRC faces many challenges including low enrolment rates, low learning outcomes, and high drop-out rates, particularly for girls. In addition, there is a robust demand for private education in DRC, including among low-income families. Eighty percent of DRC’s schools are non-state; a majority (70%) are faith-based schools (école conventionnées) owned or affiliated to a religious institution, while the rest are privately operated. Although there is an active banking and financial sector in the DRC, few lenders have designed products suitable for the education sector. Congolese schools serving low and middle-income communities cannot access the capital needed to improve infrastructure, such as building more classrooms and gender-separated washrooms, or make investments in equipment, hiring additional teachers, or other working capital and infrastructure needs.

Our Approach

Opportunity is partnering with local financial institutions to create access to affordable finance for non-state schools and serve learners from low and lower-middle income households. Through CATALYZE, we:  

  1. partner with local financial institutions to grow loans to affordable schools and school-fee loans to parents; and
  2. engage school leaders in strategic development planning through the ‘Pathways to Excellence’ tool designed for affordable non-state schools.

We also provide instructional leadership and management best practices to school leaders and teachers to improve education quality using a ‘training of trainers’ approach. This includes training teachers on inclusive teaching practices and coaching school leaders to proactively identify child protection risks at their schools.


Mobilize Finance and Increase Access to Education

  • Mobilize US $13 million from private investors and local financial institutions to finance low-cost primary schools, leveraging 3x capital from USAID CATALYZE.
  • Finance 700+ in urban and periurban centers of Kinshasha, Lubumbashi, Bukavu, and Goma.
  • Partner with local financial institutions to provide school-fee loans to low-income students.
  • Work with local financial institutions to address financing needs of schools in response to COVID-19.

Include Education Quality—Especially for Girls

  • Improve school quality through development planning and professional development trainings for teachers and administrators in 300 non-state schools.
  • Include gender-responsive training for teachers and school leadership
  • Evaluate children’s learning outcomes.

Project Details


Education, Agriculture, Microbanking


USAID/CATALYZE, implemented by Palladium


COOPEC CAHI, SMICO, Advans Banque, FBN BAnk, FINCA DRC, Baobab DRC, PAIDEK, COOCEC KIVU, Hekima, Tujenge Pamoja, Equity BCDC, UBA, ProcFin, Guilgal, Vision Fund DRC



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Through robust partnerships with organizations, financial institutions, and funders, Opportunity International is implementing a wide range of education initiatives in communities and countries around the world.

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