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USAID and Equity Bank partner to unlock $5M in lending to artisanal and small-scale mining operators in eastern DRC

Published 06/03/2022 by Global Communities

Kinshasa, DRC – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Equity BCDC have partnered to unlock financial services and products to artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operators in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) via USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project. 

As one of the largest banks in the DRC, Equity BCDC will invest US$500,000 of its own funds combined with $200,000 in grant financing from USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project to create a blended finance solution designed to de-risk lending to the ASM sector. This partnership will accelerate the bank’s deployment of financial products in a new market segment, as well as catalyze lending to a largely informal sector. 

The partnership was officially launched during DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi.

“Lack of access to credit is one of the premier challenges to responsible sourcing of artisanal gold in DRC,” said USAID Mission Director Paul Sabatine. “Through this partnership, we are tackling a systemic problem with a local market-based solution.” 

Through this partnership, Equity will gain a better understanding of the actors, operations, local dynamics and commercial linkages from extraction to sale of artisanal gold. The bank will also leverage the network of artisanal mining cooperatives, traders and exporters developed by USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project, as well as benefit from the market information and relevant mine site risk profiles the project has developed. 

With grant funds and technical assistance from USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project, Equity will benefit from external expertise to refine its financial product offerings to meet the particular needs of the ASM sector. Equity proposes giving up to US$5 million in loans and other financial products over the next 18 months. In addition, the bank will deploy agents in the target ASM areas to facilitate access to banking services and financial products. 

According to Célestin Mukeba, CEO of Equity BCDC, “Equity believes in creating triple value (social/people value, environmental/planet value, and economic/profit value). This partnership fits in perfectly with the bank’s vision, which is to be the champion of the socio-economic prosperity of the people of Africa.” 

USAID’s Zahabu Safi Chief of Party Nikki Duncan further highlights that “ASM cooperatives, traders and exporters often lack access to working capital for the purposes of pre-financing legal gold purchases. They also lack fixed asset finance to invest in the purchase or leasing of excavation or personal protective equipment, which are critical to improving production and keeping miners safe. Through this partnership, we will hopefully have a positive impact on the ASM sector well beyond the lifecycle of our project.” 

To learn more about this partnership and how to access financing via the partnership facility, please contact Mr. Gaylhord Omasale at [email protected]

For more information about USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project, please contact Victor Idumba at [email protected].

About USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project: USAID’s Zahabu Safi (Clean Gold) Project is an inclusive development initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The goal of the project is to establish responsibly sourced artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) gold supply chains originating from eastern DRC. Launched in 2018, the five-year program builds on recent successes achieved by donor-funded initiatives to export responsibly produced gold to jewelry buyers in North America and Europe. Implemented by Global Communities in partnership with Levin Sources, this project contributes to the broader U.S. government goal of reducing instability in the DRC – the DRC has within its territory mineral resources with an estimated worth of over $24 trillion – by providing commercial opportunities to artisanal miners by linking them to responsible gold buyers in international markets, or by strengthening local partnerships between artisanal mining cooperatives and established institutional investors/anchor institutions within the DRC.

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