MasterCard Foundation has given $1.8 million grant to the international Finance Corporation IFC, a World Bank Group member to provide advisory services to help microfinance institution FINCA DRC expand low-cost financial services in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
MasterCard and IFC and The MasterCard Foundation will support FINCA DRC to expand financial services to low-income individuals and smaller businesses in the country, which suffered through years of civil war and has one of the lowest rates of access to financial services in the world. There are currently fewer than 600,000 bank accounts for a population of 67 million.
According to David Crush, IFC Manager for Access to Finance Advisory Services in Sub-Saharan Africa, “Microfinance helps low income clients build assets, increase income and reduce their vulnerability. That is more important in post-conflict countries than anywhere else. By supporting FINCA DRC to expand, IFC aims to help rebuild and strengthen one of the most fragile economies in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
FINCA DRC which operates in four regions of the country, through a network of 13 branches serves the small-scale entrepreneurs that constitute the larger part of the informal economy unlike the mainstream commercial banks in the DRC serve majorly large corporate clients. It currently . About 50 percent of its customers are women.
IFC will use the money to provide advisory services for three years to assist FINCA DRC develop branchless banking channels and new products so it can increase reach and mobilize savings.
The DRC project is part of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion with The MasterCard Foundation, which aims to scale up microfinance and accelerate the development of mobile financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa to reach a total of 5.3 million previously unbanked customers on the continent by 2017.