The end of 2022 commemorates the conclusion of year five of the Financial Inclusion Project. Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been some of the hardest hit by the economic crisis following the global pandemic and the war on Ukraine. With both countries undergoing accessibility restraints to common lifestyle necessities, street and gang violence have become more apparent. This has made it difficult for our beneficiaries to conduct business as usual safely and effectively. Yet, in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Financial Inclusion Project has continued to outshine expectations, progressing new projects and missions forward despite the social, political or environmental limitations these countries may face.
This year posed new, unexpected challenges as countries worldwide continued to feel the effects of the pandemic and other global events causing high inflation rates. During this time, we significantly improved the yearly income and poverty rate in both Haiti and the DRC, with Haiti’s income rate improving by 50 percent in 2022, and the DRC’s improving by 30 percent. This has resulted in an overall improvement in poverty rates which fell from 12 percent to 9 percent in the last year for the DRC and 34.6 percent to 32.6 percent in Haiti.
Overcoming challenges and achieving milestones
FINCA Haiti closed year five of the project with 45,202 active loan clients (89% women), and 323,845 active clients in the DRC (30% women). The Juste Pour Elle loan product, which launched in the DRC in March 2021, has done exceptionally well and has been able to target MSME’s controlled by women, with 1,468 active female customers. Since the start of the project, the product has been able to give 3,013 loans with a total amount of $21 million USD overall. This project continues to have life-changing impacts on female entrepreneurs, offering opportunities for Congolese women to access the capital they need.
Haiti’s agriculture loan product has also experienced successful results in 2022, with 1,658 active loan clients. Eighty-one percent of these clients are women, surpassing its year-end target of 1,400 active clients, with 60 percent being women.
Other key milestones in Haiti and the DRC include:
- Financial literacy training, with a focus on women, had a positive outcome in both countries: FINCA Haiti successfully trained 102,629 VB clients in financial literacy (91% women), and the DRC has trained 163,782 clients (51% women), surpassing all targets in both countries.
- Increased capacity of staff to implement gender-focused initiatives: Three diversity and inclusion courses and training programs, such as Customer Experience training and the Gender Action Plans, were made available for training staff in Haiti, the DRC and all FINCA subsidiaries around the world.
- Haiti and the DRC engaged in knowledge sharing with other microfinance institutions: FINCA DRC led the annual meeting of the National Association of Microfinance Institutions in August 2022, where knowledge was shared on digitalization, using the national switch, how to empower women and surpass bias, as well as provide financial education. FINCA DRC is the only microfinance institution to demonstrate training to non-clients and leverage inclusivity and sustainable development.