The decades since the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) gained independence from Belgium in 1960 have been tumultuous: marred by violence, corruption, and political and economic instability. Even as the country recovers from a five-year war that ended in 2003, fears of civil war remain. While DRC’s natural-resource wealth could aid the country’s recovery, at present a small minority derive most of the benefits. The United Nations’ 2011 Human Development Report ranks DRC last of 187 countries and territories in its human development index, and the 2013 World Bank Doing Business Report once again ranked DRC among the hardest 10 countries in which to do business worldwide. Many workers have been pushed into the informal economy, contributing to the tremendous need for HOPE’s services.
Since 2004, HOPE has provided small business loans and savings services to thousands of entrepreneurs in DRC. Bank penetration in the country remains below 1 percent, with an estimated 650,000 accounts in a nation of 66.7 million people. HOPE DRC’s clients are small business owners who benefit from the opportunity to increase their inventory or invest in an asset that will make their business more efficient or attract additional customers. HOPE’s community banks use the 5W’s meeting structure—which incorporates welcome, worship, Word, work, and wrap-up—to ensure that clients are exposed to the Good News of the Gospel each time they gather.
Sources: CIA World Factbook, the World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Information Last Updated: September 2014