Annie Nyangomba is a 38-year-old mother of two who lives in Kinshasa, DR Congo. The smiling face of this client graces the cover of our 2011 Annual Report as she holds out her finger to be read biometrically at the Kinshasa branch of Opportunity‘s newest microfinance operations, Opportunity DRC. With support from the UNCDF, it’s one of the few places in the developing world offering this powerful technology, which requires only a fingerprint-embedded ID card to access an account. Even clients who are illiterate or lack formal ID gain control over their finances, some for the first time ever.
“Since 1996,” Annie Nyangomba says, “I was selling sweet potatoes in the main road and in the Masina Market. I was earning $10 daily and $260 per month, not enough to rent a house and feed my two children–Esther, eight, and Ephraim, seven–and pay their school fees. I was informed by my friend Miss Mwamba, a client of Opportunity DRC, that I could have the loan I needed to expand my business.” Since joining Opportunity, Annie’s income has risen 20% and she receives business training and advice from her loan officer, Pelagie Kawadio.
Annie didn’t want to open an account at a bank before because she thought it would be too expensive. But now that she has, she says she feels more secure and recognized. “Now I get more respect,” she says, ”and I hope to see my social life change. I feel more secure for the future of my children.” Annie’s goal today is to be financially independent and to open her own wholesale supply in the market. But her transformation is not merely financial. “I especially have a sense of hope. It’s like God is giving me a second chance to change my life.”
Annie’s story is inspiring, but it’s not unusual. By the one-year anniversary, this past May, of Opportunity DRC’s grand opening, more than 5,000 Congolese clients had received over 8,000 loans to grow local businesses and increase their incomes, not only empowering them to help their families, but strengthens the local economy as well. In addition to loans, clients receive extensive training in business management, leadership skills and personal development, enabling them to improve their lives economically and socially. Opportunity has opened our second Kinshasa branch in the local Gambela marketplace, expanding to reach more of the local community. Through biometric identification we’re able to access women with their first-ever access to formal banking. Today, approximately 66% of Opportunity DRC’s clients are women.
In 2012, Opportunity DRC is on track to reach our milestones:
- We will open a third and fourth branch by the end of the year.
- We will expand beyond Trust Group loans, adding small group and salaried loans.
- We have applied for a license to take deposits so that we will be able to offer families a safe place to save their earnings.
- We’ll introduce more training modules in financial education for our clients.
- Through the support of corporations, individuals, and bi-lateral and multi-lateral contributors, Opportunity aims to grow from 5,000 clients to over 10,000 clients.
Opportunity DRC CEO Gilbert Lagaillarde says, “The economic outlook in the DRC today is one of hope. Opportunities are opening up for sustainable economic growth, and Opportunity International’s presence here is evidence of that. There are many good things ahead.”
For more on our clients, our work and our impact, read the 2011 Annual Report here.