Equity gets Sh3bn IFC loan for its Congo unit

James Mwangi

Equity Group Managing Director & CEO, Dr. James Mwangi during the lender's full year results briefing for the year ended December 31, 2022 at the Upperhill headquarters, Nairobi, on March 22, 2022.

Photo credit: Diana Ngila | Nation Media Group

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is to provide a Sh2.9 billion loan to Equity Bank’s Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) subsidiary to support lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The funds will support Equity Banque Commerciale du Congo (Equity BCDC) to de-risk and scale up its lending to small businesses, particularly the women-owned SMEs in the DRC.

“The project consists of an up to $25 million (Sh2.9 billion) risk-sharing facility providing a 50 percent loss coverage for up to $50 million (Sh5.8 billion) SME loan portfolio originated by Equity Banque Commerciale du Congo,” the World Bank’s private-sector lending arm said in a disclosure.

“The team expects the RSF to be complemented by advisory services aimed at strengthening the bank’s holistic risk management framework, SME origination, underwriting, monitoring, and credit risk management capabilities. The project will be committed in two separate tranches,” it said.

IFC said Equity BCDC will also benefit from advisory services towards the SME lending initiative.

Equity BCDC, the second-largest bank in DRC, is a product of Equity Group’s expansion strategy of pursuing growth and diversification in the regional market.

It stemmed from a merger between Equity Bank Congo and Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), which was approved in December 2020. The bank has a balance sheet of $3.7 billion (Sh432.7billion) and a nationwide footprint of 70 branches, and 203 ATMs, serving a customer base of more than one million.

BCDC offers traditional banking services to MSMEs, and retail clients, both domestic and from the Congolese diaspora, corporates, and institutional clients.

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