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IFC and Equity Group Partner to Support MSMEs with Local-Currency Financing in the DRC

Equity BCDC Signing.jpegKinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 12, 2021 – To support the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), IFC today announced a partnership with Equity Banque Commerciale du Congo (Equity BCDC), a subsidiary of Equity Group, that will help these smaller businesses access local currency financing.

IFC's loan to Equity BCDC, of up to the equivalent of US$50 million in Congolese francs, will help the bank provide additional local currency loans to underserved MSMEs in the DRC, many of which have suffered cash-flow disruptions because of the COVID19 pandemic. Providing loans in local Congolese francs will help borrowing companies in the country avoid currency fluctuations.

"Our strong relationship with IFC has today taken a new step as we commit to supporting MSMEs in the DRC together. The DRC is a vast, dynamic country that is on its way to becoming a dynamic economy with tremendous opportunities for small businesses to underpin growth. Our shared vision for the transformation of lives and livelihoods in the DRC and the African continent is one we greatly value and which will allow the DRC to thrive and prosper in the post-Covid economy as we seek to implement Equity's post Covid Africa resilience and growth plan," said Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc.

"We want to see continued progress for our MSMEs as the world opens up. By working together with partners such as IFC, we are offering our clients a way to empower themselves while creating economic opportunities for wealth creation for our people," Dr. Mwangi continued.

"Helping smaller businesses access financing—especially local currency financing—is one of the best ways to help them grow and create jobs and is a central part of IFC's strategy to support development in Africa," said Sérgio Pimenta, IFC's Vice President for Africa. "Our investment in Equity BCDC will help smaller businesses in the DRC access the financing they need and reinforces our longstanding partnership with Equity Group."

IFC's investment is supported by the International Development Association's (IDA) Private Sector Window (PSW) Blended Finance Facility and Local Currency Facility, through guarantees and cross-currency swaps aimed at helping financial service providers serving the base of the pyramid segment.

Equity BCDC, the second largest private sector bank with a strategic focus on serving MSMEs in the DRC, is part of Equity Group Holdings Limited (EGHL), the biggest bank by asset base in East and Central Africa.

EGHL is an important partner for IFC in East & Central Africa where the group is present in seven countries and serves more than 14 million customers. EGHL's strategy targets underserved low-income segments of society, especially farmers, women entrepreneurs and rural populations. The Group's Africa post COVID-19 recovery and resilience plan aims to lend $4 billion to five million MSMEs to create up to 50 million jobs in the region by 2025.

In fiscal year 21, IFC's committed SME Finance portfolio was over $12.3 billion worldwide. Of this amount, the Africa portfolio was $2.6 billion. IFC's strategic priorities in the DRC focus on energy, ICT, housing, access to finance for MSMEs, and supporting improvements to the business enabling environment.

About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

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About the IDA Private Sector Window

As part of the 19th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group is continuing the IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) created under IDA18 to catalyze private sector investment in the poorest and most fragile countries. Recognizing the key role of the private sector in achieving IDA's objectives and the World Bank Group's twin goals, the window provides a source of co-investment funding and guarantees to de-risk private investments supported by IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IDA PSW is an option when there is no commercial solution and the World Bank Group's other tools and approaches are insufficient. For more information, visit: http://ida.worldbank.org/psw

About Equity Group Holdings, Plc:

Equity Group Holdings Plc is a Pan-African financial services holding company listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Uganda Securities Exchange, and Rwanda Stock Exchange. The Group has banking subsidiaries in Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and a Commercial Representative Office in Ethiopia.  It has other subsidiaries in investment banking, insurance, telecom, fintech and social impact investments.

Equity Group is the largest bank in the region in assets of Kshs 1.12 trillion (USD 11.2 billion). It is also the biggest bank in deposits, market capitalization of USD 2 billion and with a customer base of over 15 million customers. The Group has a footprint of 337 branches, 56,772 Agents, 32,269 Merchants, 697 ATMs and an extensive adoption of digital banking channel.

Since 2008, the Group's corporate foundation, Equity Group Foundation (EGF), has delivered humanitarian programs in Education and Leadership, Food and Agriculture, Social Protection, Health, Clean Energy and the Environment, Enterprise Development and Financial Inclusion to millions of Africans. EGF has a networked health care provider, Equity Afia which has been supporting COVID-19 relief efforts:

For more information, please visit: https://equitygroupholdings.com/ and https://equitygroupfoundation.com/

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