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Project Case Study

Making markets work in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Promoting sustainable and inclusive development by empowering entrepreneurs in the DRC

Despite its extraordinary economic potential, the DRC remains desperately poor.

Decades of conflict, instability and poor governance have taken their toll: 85% of the population live in poverty with limited opportunities to participate in the productive areas of the country’s economy.

We proved that stimulating small business in the DRC, and especially helping women entrepreneurs, is an effective, sustainable way to lift people out of poverty.

Project info

ÉLAN RDC (ÉLAN means 'impetus' in French)


  • 2013 - 2019


Through its five and a half years, ÉLAN RDC generated remarkable economic and social improvements by making the private sector work more efficiently and equitably for Congolese entrepreneurs, small farmers, and consumers – especially women and adolescent girls who are some of the most marginalised in the world.

We provided technical expertise and guidance on implementation and worked on the root causes of market failures and the constraints to inclusive growth.

Collaborating with the private sector to set in place new economic models that increase income, we jointly created jobs and lowered prices for the poorest households in the country.

ÉLAN RDC partnered with local businesses and organisations, providing innovative business models, market insights, linking key players, facilitating access to financing, and fostering a better business-enabling environment. More than 100 successful businesses in the DRC partnered with us to receive technical advice, leverage funds and create networks to change business practices.

Our partners in six sectors (renewable energy, perennial and non-perennial agriculture, branchless banking, access to finance for SMEs and transport) have undertaken a whole range of initiatives, such as launching a pay-as-you-go model for purchasing solar lamp products, selling high-quality seeds to smallholder farmers, successfully petitioning the government to reduce taxes, rolling out a mobile banking rural agent network, and developing a credit-against-stock financial product aimed at agribusinesses.


Successful outcomes

  • By the end of 2018, more than 841,000 people increased their income by a total of nearly £40 million;
  • The project helped improve enterprise performance for over 933,000 people and helped improve business practices of over 1.3 million people;
  • ÉLAN RDC is on track to reach its goal of raising the incomes of 1 million Congolese.

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