PCP to Begin Micro-Finance Project in Congo

Post a Comment » Written on April 30th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (April 30, 2009) – The Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the world’s largest Christian micro-finance organization to provide new economic opportunities for people in the northwest region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Under the agreement, Opportunity International will establish banking and micro-finance activities in Gemena, where the Congo Covenant Church is headquartered, says Byron Miller, PCP executive director. PCP is affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC).

This move into micro-finance is a major new investment for PCP, says Miller. Its work in the Ubangi-Mongala region builds on a history of more than 70 years of ECC missions there, including medical, educational, and development work.

Today this area is desperately poor. Family incomes often do not exceed $100 per year. Nearly everyone is engaged in subsistence farming. Farmers have no reason to grow more food to sell because transporting crops to markets is difficult. Little cash is in circulation.

To help people in Ubangi escape this trap, PCP is working to improve roads, markets, and transport. “Only when people can sell crops in excess of their needs at market will they have cash to support their families, churches, schools, and clinics,” says Miller.

Critical to improving markets and transport is providing capital, says Miller. However, accumulating capital is difficult, in part, because no banks exist in the region. Elsewhere in the world, the ability to save money has proved to be more important than the ability to borrow. It is crucial to sustainability.

In the short term, PCP has undertaken a smaller-scale micro-finance—or micro-enterprise—program to begin addressing the lack of capital. “Longer term, we need the more sophisticated approach combining micro-finance and banking that Opportunity International provides,” Miller says.

Under the terms of the agreement, when PCP raises and transfers $1.2 million, Opportunity International will establish a branch bank in Gemena. “When we raise a cumulative total of $1.8 million, they will add mobile capabilities that will reach farther from Gemena,” Miller says. “Until we raise that first $1.2 million, all funds contributed for this project will be invested in investment certificates with National Covenant Properties.”

PCP is now seeking donations to raise the needed capital. “Every dollar given will be re-used multiple times to help Congolese entrepreneurs grow their farms and businesses,” Miller says.

For more information or to invest in the project, contact Paul Carlson Partnership.

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