The Financial Inclusion Project is dedicated to supporting the financial inclusion of women in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), empowering them to step into entrepreneurial leadership roles with stability and confidence. FINCA Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, began this work in 2018. As the fourth year of the project ends, we looked back at the challenges and successes of the past year and our renewed focus for the year ahead.
Social, Political, and Geographic Change
In addition to the unrelenting challenge of COVID-19, Haiti and the DRC faced a combination of social, political, and geographic change resulting in diminishing economic development throughout 2021. Both nations experienced changes in political leadership following the assassination of Haitian President Moïse and the DRC’s new formation of government. Natural disasters also ignited crisis and economic stagnation following Haiti’s 4.3 magnitude earthquake and tropical storm Grace, while the DRC’s volcanic eruption in Goma caused additional strain on the country.
However, progress continued to be made to further support FINCA’s clients in both Haiti and the DRC. Both countries have faced unimaginable struggles over the last year and yet, their resilience remains unrelenting, no matter the challenge.
The extensive change we have continued to see over the last year has given our teams an even better understanding of the financial inclusion needs of female clients in Haiti and the DRC. FINCA’s work continues to be guided by research findings that inform capacity building and gender action plans.
Staff participation rates in training courses saw an increase this year, and a total of eight modules have been deployed on topics like gender equality, diversity and inclusion and day-to-day work interactions. The use of digital and mobile technologies was crucial in both countries as the number of MonCash users in Haiti doubled while FINCA DRC added approximately 32,000 users from the previous year.
Measuring our Goals and Impacts
There are four main goals of the Financial Inclusion Project. The first goal is to increase the use of financial services by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), those led by women in Haiti and the DRC. This year, FINCA was able to offer financial services to 40,000 more people from the previous year, a milestone we are incredibly proud of. In Haiti, there were approximately 13,000 more clients and, in the DRC, there were 27,000 more clients than the previous year, 36 percent of whom were women.
The second goal is to increase the use of financial services and technical assistance pertaining to business development, natural resource management and climate change adaptation by agricultural entrepreneurs, particularly those led by women in Haiti. This year, the agricultural loan program continued to be very successful, doubling the number of beneficiaries from last year and reaching a cumulative total of 2,080 beneficiaries. Women who work in different parts of the agricultural supply chain accounted for 83 percent of agriculture loan beneficiaries.
The third goal is improving access to mobile savings services for low-income individuals, especially women in the DRC. There were 32,000 more mobile savings clients in the DRC reaching a total of 158,568 active clients.
The fourth goal of the Financial Inclusion Project is to create loans adapted to microenterprises with financial literacy programs and loans also adapted to SMEs in Haiti and the DRC, targeting businesses led by women. During the fourth year of project implementation, FINCA DRC developed and launched the Just for Her loan, a new loan product targeting MSMEs controlled by women in the DRC. Just for Her has preferential conditions for women, such as a lower interest rate and the option for a grace period before loan reimbursement starts. Since its release on March 8, a total of 1,001 women have benefited from this product to grow and expand their businesses, with USD 6.6 million disbursed.
We are extremely proud to share that this year, through the Financial Inclusion Project, FINCA Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, trained over 216,000 clients in financial literacy, 65 percent of whom were women. FINCA Haiti has trained a cumulative total of 76,290 clients, 92 percent of whom are women while FINCA DRC trained a total of 140,483 clients, 51 percent of whom are women. FINCA DRC moved much of its training activities online as training videos were made available to clients and non-clients through digital channels such as social media, FINCA webpages and text messages.
Driving for More Change
As we carry forward into the new year, FINCA Canada will continue to go move beyond measure, topping each year’s successes and restoring financial stability. With 192 female entrepreneurs trained in Haiti and 34,391 community members trained in financial literacy and financial technologies in the DRC this year, we are excited to see what is to come in 2022.
Click here to learn more about FINCA Canada’s work to create more equitable access to financial services in developing countries and show your support for increasing financial education in impoverished communities.