A Social Business Incubator In The Eastern Congo

Liaison Congo: introducing the internet


Last month was the school holidays in Bukavu and for the third year running Liaison Congo offered a subsidised training course for kids who want to learn computer skills and also how to use the internet. They learn a few basic applications and have fun with photography, but they also learn a little about privacy and security, enough to start them on the right track.

Innocent Misabiro is the Managing Director and was already running Liaison Congo when we first met four years ago. At that time the company installed v-sat internet access into NGO offices and Innocent had built a technically capable team and a good track record. In Kivu this is not easy. People study computing at university without ever using a computer or seeing a router. Hands-on experience let alone expertise is not commonplace.

We sat in the corridor where there was a little more space and Innocent talked about his dream to expand the work of Liaison Congo and bring the benefits of the internet to everyone in Bukavu. Piece by piece a plan emerged to adapt his capabilities and start an internet café. Innocent insisted it must solve the twin problems of electricity cuts and slow modems that were crippling other cafes, and that it must offer people useful training in how to use a computer and how to use the internet. Innocent cares a lot.

Since then he has opened two cafes, both in popular areas of Bukavu. Café-2 is on Avenue Leopold, which is in the centre of Bukavu where many small businesses are located. It’s noticeable that the café is especially busy between 10.00am and 4.00pm, whereas café-1 in Nyawera is busiest after 4.00pm when students come in to study and use social networking sites.

Innocent offers training courses at café 2, not just for the kids but also for adults ranging from those who wish to learn the basic to those whose interests are much more advanced. He is an approved provider of the International Computer Driving Licence certification program and he takes care to customise the training to the needs of each student. This way everyone passing through Liaison Congo starts off on the right track.