Supporting Entrepreneurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo

by Heath Dewey on June 5th, 2012

Kamina Friends and Enterprise Facilitation

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to meet with Kamina Friends, a Fairport, NY based organization that is supporting entrepreneurs and the development of sustainable businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo through Enterprise Facilitation.

The Enterprise Facilitation program that Kamina Friends founded in Kamina, DRC is thriving. In the 3½ years that the program has been in existence they have facilitated 50 new businesses, expanded 43 businesses and created or retained 632 jobs. These are impressive numbers on their own but what adds to the explosiveness of this program is that all of the jobs and new businesses were created with local resources in the politically troubled Democratic Republic of Congo. The only real outside influence is the Enterprise Facilitator’s salary, which is paid by Kamina Friends. Kamina Friends also paid for the Sirolli Institute's training in the Enterprise Facilitation methodology.
In 2002, at a United Methodist gathering, a group of Methodist congregation members from Fairport, NY had the opportunity to meet Kamina, DRC community leaders, including Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, the leader of the North Katanga Conference of the United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kamina religious and public leaders asked for the help of this small NY-based group to develop small businesses in Kamina. This call to action was the driving force behind the development of Kamina Friends. Kamina Friends’ early approaches to developing small business resulted in minimal successes. It was not until a congregation member discovered Enterprise Facilitation that things began to change for the better.
There are many people responsible for making Enterprise Facilitation in Kamina possible. Kamina Friends is composed of many donors based in Fairport, NY that are currently the primary supporters of the Enterprise Facilitation program in Kamina. Their tireless commitment to the program and the community of Kamina has seen the program through its infancy and beyond. Kamina Friends has received grants from various foundations as well as the support of the United Methodist Church. Now Kamina Friends has plans in the works to make the program self-sufficient. Kamina Friends' Executive Director, Jeff Tyburski, believes that the program will be able to support itself in the near future through fundraising participation from the regional Kamina community.
The program in Kamina is receiving immense support from well-meaning advocates in the United States and beyond. Every Enterprise Facilitation program, however, relies upon the community it serves to make it successful. In Kamina there is a a Board of Helpers, a group of interested community members that support the growth of businesses by working with the Enterprise Facilitator to connect entrepreneurs to community contacts and resources. They are essential in helping business owners to succeed.

There is also a group of concerned community members, the Board of Leaders, that manages the Enterprise Facilitation program. Their responsibilities include marketing the program, managing program expenses, ensuring adherence to Enterprise Facilitation methodology and keeping Kamina Friends abreast of their progress.  
The most vital element is the Enterprise Facilitator. The Enterprise Facilitator in Kamina is Fabrice Ilunga Mujinga. He is the heart of the program because it is he that works closely with each of the new or existing business owners. Facilitators must be good listeners, compassionate, intelligent, and above all personable. From what I saw, Fabrice is all of these things. He is an ex-teacher from Kamina, speaks 4 languages, charming and has a smile that could disarm my angry Grandfather. Perhaps the most impressive part was the excitement he exuded about the opportunity he has to make a positive change in his community.
I spoke with one of Fabrice’s clients, Mama Abedi, while I was in Fairport. She summed up the project for me in one translated sentence. “If it were not for Fabrice and Kamina Friends I would not own a business or be where I am today.” Now Mama Abedi is a successful female entrepreneur blazing the way for younger women to follow.

Kapoks is excited about this program and happy to see Kamina Friends implementing Enterprise Facilitation as a means of carefully supporting the development of economically challenged areas of the world. 

Posted in Community Development, Economic development, Enterprise Facilitation, Enterprise Facilitator, Entrepreneurship, International economic development, Sirolli Institute, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kamina, Africa    Tagged with kamina, democratic republic of congo, enterprise facilitator, kamina friends, Sirolli Institute, Kapoks


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