Small businesses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be provided with better access to financial services following the launch of a new project between FSD Africa and Equity Bank Congo. The three-year S$2.8 million project will train and enrol at least 4,000 people to become bank agents across 22 of the 26 provinces of DRC.

By 2021, the project aims to have opened one million new savings accounts, approved 10,000 loans and issued 5,000 new insurance products. A large proportion of these products will be opened by farmers and small businesses who until now have had limited access to formal financial services.

Paul Musoke, Director, Financial Institutions, FSD Africa said: “We know that when people in fragile states, like DRC, have better access to financial services their lives improve, and the economy grows. FSD Africa is supporting Equity Bank’s vision of providing inclusive financial services to all. This project will increase access to finance for previously unserved and underserved customers in DRC, improving their livelihoods and resilience while demonstrating the potential of agency banking in a fragile and conflict affected state such as DRC. ”

Celestin Mukeba, Managing Director of Equity Bank Congo said: “At Equity Bank Congo, we have been implementing state-of-the-art Agency Banking technology for over three years. Today we have more than 2,100 accredited agents, working across Kinshasa, central Kongo, Bandundu, the two Kivus and Grand Katanga. Our new service, “Equity Cash Express”, will allow our clients to carry out banking transactions quickly, easily and safely via our network of accredited agents. Thanks to “Multipay”, Equity Cash Express will also give customers of three other partner banks the opportunity to make withdrawals. Our authorized agents can be traders, food stores, pharmacies and other forms of shop, throughout the DRC. This new local service will reduce the cost of banking transactions for our clients, and generate additional income for our Equity Bank agents, who will earn paid commissions from working with us. Our partnership with FSD Africa will support us to expand our services across the country, benefiting our bank and our customers in the long-term.”