Actor Ben Affleck brought his star power to a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill on 26 March to garner support for continued foreign assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Affleck is the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), a US-based advocacy organisation for the people of Eastern Congo.

Referring to Starbucks' partnership with the ECI to develop Congo as a key source of coffee, Affleck said ongoing diplomatic and financial assistance had shown results in the impoverished, war-ravaged country.

"This isn't charity or aid in the traditional sense. It's good business. From a relatively modest investment, farmers' incomes have more than tripled and they can now afford to send their children to school, put food on the table and access proper healthcare. As a result the world has a new source of high-quality coffee," Affleck told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"This public-private partnership has transformed the lives of thousands of families in eastern DRC, all made possible because USAID believed it could be done but we believe this is just the beginning of what's possible."

Millions died of conflict, hunger and disease during the war from 1998 to 2003 in Congo, fuelled by Rwandan intervention, and the region remains plagued by dozens of armed militias.

Affleck was joined by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates who said foreign assistance in providing basic healthcare in poorer countries would also reap benefits within the United States by preventing an outbreak of future epidemics like Ebola.