Amongst the 18 social businesses we support are many emerging successes that have the potential to scale and in some cases to integrate the transformative power of design and technology.
Narcisse is sensibly growing her cloth-dyeing business in Mudaka, north of Bukavu. The business is called Shalom and it employs fifteen women to design and dye plain fabric to produce a colorful material local people call Biusa. Most of the buyers are women in Bukavu who use the colourful biusa to make clothes.
The Mudaka region is poor and many women living there are victims of atrocities. By working for Shalom they receive training in the art of design and dyeing and earn money to alleviate their poverty and improve daily life in the community.
Olivier is also making products. He runs a business in Bukavu making sandals and shoes by hand. Before our collaboration he worked with three employees in a makeshift workshop in a poor area of town called Kadutu. With our support he has moved to a spacious workshop in Nyawera and is now employing twelve people and making shoes that sell for premium prices in the market.
Plans to help Narcisse and Olivier sell their products through the web are underway.
In Butembo in North Kivu we are providing financial support to a coffee cooperative called Kawa Kabuya that is purchasing and processing gourmet quality coffee beans sourced from a large area stretching from the Rwenzori foothills to the highlands on the west bank of Lake Edward. The coffee consistently achieves a high cupping score, which in turn attracts premium pricing and helps to strengthen the hope that coffee will be a key element in helping the region emerge from poverty and instability.
The women’s organization (UFIN) on Idjwi has started a bakery with our help. It is the only one on an island that is home to 300,000 people and it produces fresh bread each day – which is far tastier than the bread imported all the way from Goma.
Back in Mudaka, Sifa is farming fish for sale in Bukavu. There are surprisingly few fish farms in the Kivu region and most fish available in the markets are from the rift valley lakes further north or imported from outside DRC. Sifa is showing that locally farmed Tilapia is better in quality and cheaper in price and with our help she has constructed eight fish ponds, each containing several thousand fish.
Two types of soap are made and sold in Bukavu. One is a blue all-purpose soap and the second is pasty white and tends to be used just for washing clothes. Both are cheap to buy - just 15 cents.
Patient is doing something different. With our support he runs a business in Mudaka called Soap Kivu which combines palm oil from old plantations to the north with ingredients sourced locally, including aloe vera, eucalyptus, honey and lemon to make sweet smelling soap with medicinal properties. The soap costs a little more but he has no shortage of buyers and he is now producing thousands of bars each month.
Patient is a careful man and he is sure that better soap better made is the way to build success.