Nene Pongo Nzila
March 2023 marked the two-year anniversary of a new FINCA loan product that has quickly gained popularity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). The new product is called Juste Pour Elle (Just for Her). It allows Congolese women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and build wealth. With an interest rate that is 2 percent lower than the normal loan rate and a grace period before repayments, Juste Pour Elle makes it easier for Congolese women to access the capital they need.
The pandemic caused economic disruption that disproportionately affected women who work in sectors most impacted by COVID-19. As a result, entrepreneurs had to pivot their business models in order to ensure business continuity or close shop. But, with its preferential conditions for women, Juste Pour Elle has been a lifeline for entrepreneurs. Nene Pongo can testify.
FINCA Client-Nene; Thankful for Juste Pour Elle
Nene joined FINCA in 2016. Like so many FINCA clients, Nene is just a natural entrepreneur at whatever she tries her hand. Her primary business is selling beans in Kinshasa, DR Congo’s sprawling capital city, but she also owns a small warehouse and a car she uses as a taxi.
With FINCA’s help, her businesses grew over the years, but she ran into one major problem. While her existing loans enabled her to buy beans wholesale in neighbouring Uganda, she was unable to travel there personally to negotiate the price and delivery terms. She relied on friends and other intermediaries instead. But, especially during the COVID pandemic, that led to frequent supply interruptions, and she began to lose customers.
And that’s when she learned about FINCA’s Juste Pour Elle loans. The lower interest rate allowed her to nearly double the size of her existing loan. Nene explains what happened next:
I could now travel by myself to Kampala in Uganda and buy the stocks of beans while checking the quality and ensuring they were packed properly. I could also negotiate the prices and get a reduction from my suppliers. … My sales have increased and my repayments are going well. In fact, I’ve resumed my monthly savings that I’d stopped due to the COVID crisis. I was also able to buy a new car, thanks to six months of increased profits. Now my transport business has increased from one to two taxi cars that are further increasing my monthly profit.
Growing Phenomenally with Congolese Women
FINCA is offering Juste Pour Elle across all its branches in DR Congo to ensure maximum reach to Congolese women. And Congolese women entrepreneurs are responding enthusiastically to the new product. More than 1,000 women were growing their businesses through this product within six months of its launch. To date, there are over 4,000 Congolese women entrepreneurs benefiting from Juste Pour Elle, just 12 months since its launch. The product has helped them weather the storm of economic challenges caused by the pandemic and come out the other side stronger than ever.