FINCA opened its first African program in Uganda in 1992; the challenge was to see whether Village Banking could have a positive effect on a region where poverty was even more entrenched than in Latin America. Today, FINCA Africa's more than 250,000 impoverished clients have access to financial services that are delivered by a dedicated and highly-skilled group of microfinance professionals. Microenterprise and microfinance are providing many African families with an alternative to subsistence agriculture, which can no longer support the continent's vast population.
FINCA Democratic Republic of the Congo is helping thousands of Congolese rebuild their lives after the Congo Wars of 1998-2000, which involved the armies and militias of five other African countries and were the deadliest armed conflict of the century after World War II. This fighting killed an estimated 3.8 million people in DRC, half of them children, and took the husbands of many women, as well as their sources of income. As many as one million more have died since in periodic upheavals of violence and from disease, malnutrition and other lingering effects of the Congo Wars. Many families remain displaced, in poverty, and in need of help. FINCA is providing them with the tools to start over.
FINCA Malawi Poverty rates, aggravated by drought and HIV/AIDS, are at alarming levels in Malawi. But research shows that incomes are at least a third higher among FINCA participants than the rest of the population. FINCA Malawi's services will reach many more families once the program completes the transformation into a formal microfinance institution.
FINCA Uganda The largest of our programs in Africa, FINCA Uganda was also our first formal fiancial institution for the poor on the continent. It accepts client savings deposits and uses those funds to provide even more families with working capital. In 2004, the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young found FINCA Uganda to have the best human resources policies in the country.
FINCA Tanzania Although poverty and unemployment in Tanzania are among the highest in the world, it is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in Africa. FINCA Tanzania has been able to expand its client base by well over 200 percent since 2001. The program now reaches clients across 60 percent of the country, and there is room to grow.
FINCA Zambia operates in the capital city of Lusaka, and in the Central, Southern, and Copperbelt provinces of the country. The majority of FINCA' Zambia's clients are single mothers caring for orphans who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. FINCA Zambia has grown rapidly since opening in 2001, and it is planning continuted growth to meet the large demand for financial services among the people of this impoverished nation.