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DRC's Trust Merchant Bank to expand its rural presence

An increase in the demand for finance in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was one of the driving forces why the local Trust Merchant Bank (TMB) has decided to expand its rural presence throughout the country.
DRC's Trust Merchant Bank to expand its rural presence
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"Six new branches will be opened in the coming six months. This shows the rising demand for finance in rural areas where inhabitants primarily depend on agriculture as their source of income," explains David McEvoy, head of Institutional Relations for Trust Merchant Bank (TMB). Although most of these clients do not officially list agriculture as their main activity, it is nonetheless evidence that the agri-food sector is emerging from an informal economy towards a stable and legitimate one.

"We believe in understanding and managing clients' refinancing risk and establishing medium to long term relations with our clients. This has been TMB's priority. We are focusing on ensuring that rural liquidity returns within the rural economy instead of allowing it to go back into the urban economy, which until now, has been the most common practice," McEvoy adds.

Untapped potential


According to McEvoy the untapped potential of the Congolese agriculture sector is truly enormous which is mirrored by the Congolese government's current push to spotlight its vast agricultural opportunities. The government will host the AgriBusiness Forum 2015 - to be held from 22-25 March 2015 in Kinshasa - and bring together local, regional and international investors. TMB is an official partner of the annual pan-African forum and will play an active role in highlighting the necessary measures needed to ensure the sector's sustainability.

"The food industry is a sector where Africa has a strong comparative advantage and therein lies a significant opportunity to create substantial numbers of jobs and deliver long term sustainable economic growth across the continent", McEvoy says. "Aside from the direct benefits of growing the Congolese food industry, in terms of increased incomes, job creation and enhanced food security, there are in addition numerous positive spillover effects that reach deep into rural Congo. We have long been strong supporters of the AgriBusiness Forum, understanding as we do the significant importance of agriculture in ensuring the continued economic transformation of Africa," he adds.

TMB's drive to establish a strong client base in rural DRC has proven successful and has allowed communities to depend less on the murky world of informal lenders and high interest rates. "Our expansion is positive for all those looking to access funds that are long-lasting and not high-risk. We are committed to allocating re-financing when our clients need it. Our long-term approach only adds to our clients' incentive to pay off loans and to actively pursue their business objectives," highlights McEvoy.



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