A Social Business Incubator In The Eastern Congo
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ABOUT

Ensemble Pour La Différence helps social businesses in Eastern Congo to emerge and scale and in so doing bring economic progress and improvements to life quality for the people and their communities Our core belief is that entrepreneurs have the capacity to create a more sustainable and happier life for the world as a whole by using their skill and energy to develop solutions that lead to a more equal society without further damage to the environment. Generating wealth for ourselves is fair and laudable, but there is much to work for beyond ourselves if we are to live in peace and equilibrium.   In Eastern Congo, there are many people who believe in this approach, as there are everywhere in the world. But in Eastern Congo their ideas are challenged by a history of colonial repression, avaricious exploitation, corruption at many levels and years of war and rebellion. Millions of women, men and children have died in the last 20 years and the insecurity continues to this day. The situation cries out for a new way forward and, despite the problems, we think Ensemble Pour La Différence offers a solution for the region. We are working to succeed in terms of daily benefit for everyone in the region, and to show other countries that the people of Eastern Congo have the spirit and capacity to lead and become models for a better life for all.

 

How we work 

 
 
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Our base is Bukavu in South Kivu where Ensemble (DRC) is registered as a cooperative and has a full time Congolese team that identifies social businesses and project opportunities, organises financial support (usually in the form of recyclable loans), provides mentoring and monitors progress. The loans are offered to social businesses at an affordable interest rate and with flexible terms so that we can collaborate to achieve the common aim of benefiting people in the region. There are now 12 businesses are working with us in this way.  Repayments are recycled into new loans, sometimes to help grow the same business and sometimes to start new social businesses. Ensemble (UK) is a registered charity whose aim is to raise money and organise practical support from entrepreneurs in Europe and channel it into the activities managed by Ensemble (DRC). There is now a wide group of people in Europe offering funding and practical support. Ensemble (UK) also evaluates success and progress against mutually agreed targets.
 

ENSEMBLE TEAM

 
 
Director, Ensemble (DRC) Trustee, Ensemble (UK)

Patrick Byamungu
Director, Ensemble (DRC) Trustee, Ensemble (UK)

Patrick was born and raised in Bukavu, he studied development and worked for many years as a journalist and videographer. He co-founded Ensemble in 2014 with Mike Beeston

Trustee, Ensemble (UK)

Harriet Hall
Trustee, Ensemble (UK)


Harriet Hall practised law and served as a Director on the Family Board of Clarks Shoes. In addition to serving as a Trustee for Ensemble UK, Harriet serves on the board of trustees of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Trustee, Ensemble (UK)

Nigel Langstaff
Trustee, Ensemble (UK)


Nigel worked at Arthur Anderson before joining Carphone Warehouse for whom he became Group CFO in 2010. Nigel was instrumental in the sale to Dixons in 2014

Director, Ensemble (DRC) Trustee, Ensemble (UK)

Mike Beeston
Director, Ensemble (DRC) 
Trustee, Ensemble (UK)



Mike co-founded Ensemble (DRC) along with Patrick having previously been co-founder and Managing Director of Razorfish UK and co-founder and Chairman of Fjord

 
 
Research, Ensemble (DRC)

Jean Moreau Tubibu
Research, Ensemble (DRC)


Jean Moreau has a long history in journalism that provides a foundation for our research work into the needs and aspirations of the people in Kivu

 

Technology, Ensemble (DRC)

Alvantyo Mihigo
Technology, Ensemble (DRC)

Alva is a technologist. Before joining Ensemble, he worked for several internet cafes in Bukavu. He now works to set up web sites and collaborate with our technology partners

Operations, Ensemble (DRC)

Narcisse Aghanze
Operations, Ensemble
(DRC)

Narcisse Aghanze finished her studies in Kampala where she earned a degree in Business and IT before returning to Bukavu to set up Shalom and also work for Ensemble to manage operations

Business, Ensemble (DRC)

Heri Cihimba
Business, Ensemble
(DRC)

Heri was born and raised in Bukavu but worked in South Africa for several years where he learned the rough and tumble of business management. He now monitors and supports the portfolio of Ensemble business partners

 
 

WHY OUR APPROACH WILL WORK 

The Congolese are naturally entrepreneurial. They are also hard working and they are not asking for handouts, only for support to get things moving forward. They know their country is lagging far behind and that progress must be fair and shared amongst everyone. They understand Ensemble and what we do and wherever we go in Kivu and whomever we talk to, the response to our work is always positive. On a wider scale, we are not the first to advocate entrepreneurialism for the greater good and the development of social businesses as a means to rebuild a society. There are many studies that have reached the same conclusion. The United Nations say that UNDP’s work and experience in this area argues that post-conflict recovery strategy and policy should be anchored in the local engines of economic recovery. The International Labour Office says in this report that job creation provides communities and individuals the means for survival and recovery and offers a constructive and positive alternative to social unrest. In this report The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development say that private sector development has a crucial role to play in post-conflict, and other conflict-affected situations. We are not alone in our thinking and the way ahead is understood.

 

about Congo

 
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The DRC's wealth of natural resources is no secret. Throughout the last century, large corporations established themselves and profited from using Congolese rubber, palm oil and copper. Today, it is coltan from Congolese mines that is in demand for use in mobile phones, tungsten in medical instruments and cobalt in batteries for electric cars. The DRC's mineral wealth alone is valued at more than the GDP of the USA and Europe combined. Some authorities estimate that the agricultural land is sufficient to feed all of Africa. Add to this the environmentally important forests and it would not be an exaggeration to say Congo is of strategic value to our planet. Yet the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world with 77% living in extreme poverty. Half the nation's children are stunted and the country is second to last in terms of GDP per capita and 176th in the Human Development Index. The reality is that entrepreneurialism in Congo has prospered individuals and corporations at the expense of the people and has opened the door to corruption and conflict that has led to the death of more than 3 million people in the last 20 years. Life today in Congo is not getting better. Inflation is currently over 50%, and more people are fleeing conflict in Congo than any other country in the world. The people of Eastern Congo know it is going to be a long road to recovery