Programme Index Listing

Democratic Republic of Congo
Main implementer
Adam Smith International
2013-18 / 2019-20 (2 phases)
Total budget
USD $60 million
Annual budget
USD $12 million

Project description / objective

ÉLAN RDC is a UK Aid funded private sector development programme that uses a market systems approach to facilitate pro-poor economic growth in the DRC.

The programme collaborates with the private sector to pilot and scale innovative, inclusive business practices to increase the incomes of over one million poor smallholder producers, entrepreneurs and consumers by 2020.

This collaboration focuses on six areas:

  1. Perennial agriculture
  2. Non-perennial agriculture
  3. Branchless banking
  4. SME finance
  5. Transport
  6. Renewable energy.

Market system focus / interventions

1. Perennial agriculture (specialty exports)

Through ÉLAN RDC's interventions, the quality and quantity of perennial crops (coffee and cocoa) in DRC will improve, making them more sought-after products on international markets.

Improved processing through better equipment and farming techniques will generate higher quality products. Access to financing and improved management capacity will permit greater quantities to be exported, while export costs will be lowered through tax advocacy.

A coherent private sector-led marketing strategy will ensure that market information is disseminated both locally and internationally. Market prices reflect these improvements.

  • Traders, exporters and/or processors set-up outgrower schemes and provide extension service to smallholder farmers
  • Traders, exporters and/or processors support the installation of processing equipment, supporting infrastructure and value adding tools for producers
  • Financial institutions commercialise credit products adapted to the needs of exporters, traders, cooperatives
  • Industry actors organise to develop/promote strategies to stimulate tax decrease
  • Exporters/traders ensure Congolese coffee/cocoa marketing

2. Non-perennial agriculture (grains & horticulture)

As a result of ÉLAN RDC's interventions, smallholder farmers producing non-perennial crops will sustainably increase their incomes by increasing the volumes and quality of their produce sold on to commercial farmers, traders and processors.

ÉLAN RDC will facilitate significant improvements in both quality and volume of locally produced seeds available on the market, providing low-cost inputs to farmers. To make up the additional demand for inputs, ELAN RDC will enable crowding in from international input suppliers. Both local and international companies will set up competitive sales models reaching rural areas with high quality inputs and technical services.

Information about the market will be disseminated through associations and through the use of technology. Tax advocacy will contribute to a more efficient market. Mines, large farms and other commercial actors will contribute to the growth of the market through schemes such as contract farming with neighboring smallholders. Financial institutions and telecoms will increase financing available at different levels of the value chain. 

  • Inputs suppliers provide quality inputs and advisory services to smallholder farmers
  • Agribusinesses and mines provide access to pre-financed inputs and services to smallholder farmers
  • Agribusinesses provide access to secured markets to smallholder farmers
  • Agribusinesses access finance from mainstream banks and market actors from the Agriculture Value Chain 
  • Agribusinesses develop industry-wide awareness and advocate for a more favourable tax regime

3. Branchless Banking

To increase access to financial services for individuals and micro-enterprises ÉLAN RDC will help unlock the constraints hindering the growth of branchless banking services in DRC. ÉLAN RDC will work with partners to raise awareness about branchless banking - through education campaigns and other forms of sharing market information.

The programme will work with financial institutions and telecommunication companies to raise the number of high quality, sustainable agents serving customers across the DRC. To leverage this growing network, ÉLAN RDC will work with partners to develop new products and services.

  • Mobile Network Operators (MNOs )and Financial institutions develop financial education programmes and other tools to increase confidence in mobile money and other digital financial services
  • MNOs and financial institutions offer appropriate products/services to poor consumers and entrepreneurs
  • MNOs and financial institutions improve agents’ quality of service and expand agents' network to serve poor consumers and ensure supply chain digitalisation

4. SME Finance

Through the ÉLAN RDC programme financial institutions will deliver innovative financial products and services adapted to SMEs, resulting in long term commercial relationships based on trust.

Appropriate lending and risk assessment methodologies will be improved. SMEs will better understand credit culture thanks to adapted support from business development services.

  • Financial institutions market adapts and innovates financial products to the needs of smallholder farmers, small entrepreneurs and poor consumers
  • Consulting companies provide technical assistance in business management to SME owners

5. Transport

The efficiency of private river and lake transport will improve in terms of both time and cost thanks to improved logistics and a conducive tax environment.

Better coordination of traders along the river network will increase the speed and volume of trade. Capital constraints will be reduced through new financial products offered to boat operators.

Public / private dialogue will improve the tax environment. These improvements, enhanced further through improved overland transport, will enable smallholder producers to evacuate their products to centres of consumption at a higher volume and margin.

  • Transporters and traders advocate for more favorable business climate including a lower tax regime
  • Banks provide river, lake and road transport actors with adequate financial products
  • Focal points and private sector actors improve aggregation of agricultural products

6. Renewable energy

Households and small businesses will generate savings and increased profits through access to affordable and sustainable energy products and services which are brought to market by a growing number of profitable companies.

To increase the availability of high quality products, ÉLAN RDC will facilitate increased local production and importation where local production is not advantageous. In turn, new communication, marketing and distribution models will be employed to reach households previously un-reached by traditional marketing methods.

Banks and other investors will provide affordable capital to overcome financial constraints. Tax advocacy will contribute to driving down cost and providing the most affordable products possible to consumers.

  • SMEs produce or import highly efficient energy technologies
  • SMEs implement innovative communication, marketing and distribution models to reach BoP households
  • Financial institutions and actors along the renewable energy supply chain provide SMEs and consumers with adequate financial products
  • SMEs advocate for more favourable tax regime

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

Results as of December 2017

  • Over 400,000 poor people (including 124,000 poor women) have experienced a net positive income change
  • Over £16,200,000 (including £5,000,000 for women) in cumulative net additional income change attributable to project interventions at an average of £31 per person
  • Over 460,000 poor people (including 140,000 poor women) demonstrating improved enterprise performance (increased productivity, sales volumes, improved market penetration, better terms of trade, streamlined resources)
  • Over 643,000 poor people (including 200,000 poor women) demonstrating improved business practices (improved accounting, record-keeping, marketing practices, improved production and distribution techniques)

Further reading