A NEW GENERATION OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
IS EMERGING IN EASTERN CONGO
ENSEMBLE ENABLES THEM TO MOVE FORWARD
Social entrepreneurs across Eastern Congo have the ideas and motivation to create solutions to pressing needs, but not the experience and financial means to succeed. And they have to struggle with extreme poverty, broken infrastructure and chronic insecurity, which makes Kivu a really tough place to work.
Ensemble is a team of Congolese and European business people, designers and technologists. We help social entrepreneurs in Kivu to transform their ideas into a proven business and then we help them scale.
We do this by providing tailored business advice and financial support. We also help them apply human centred design to ensure their products and services effectively respond to people’s needs, and we help them use innovation to breakthrough the many constraints that frustrate progress.
Our funding comes from entrepreneurs, foundations and businesses that believe in this approach and our focus areas are agriculture, energy, health & safety and digital technology. This is where businesses in Kivu can be most transformative.
Innovation is our heartbeat
We work in a difficult environment that imposes many constraints. So we have to innovate.
This means that we look to:
● open up a new space in which solutions can create progress
● make a step change in an existing solution to increase its value
● remove an obstacle that is blocking an opportunity
In practice this could include a new business idea or a new technology or a new payment solution. Each response is tailored to the specific needs of our business partner.
innovation is integral to our support for every partner
below are just a few examples for you to explore
we work with partners from proof of concept to roll-out and scale
There are many people in Kivu with business ideas, just as there are elsewhere in the world. To identify those most likely to succeed and deliver social progress we initially work alongside the entrepreneur for a few weeks to better understand their potential and develop a business plan. If it all makes sense and if the business has the potential to scale, we start phase 1.
The main objective is to help the entrepreneur prove they have a sustainable business that delivers social outcomes. Our focus is on practical advice and mentoring plus low-level financial support to buy equipment or cover cash needs. We introduce them to human-centred design and we embed good business practice to ensure their offer has the potential to scale.
Phase 2 is about scaling, usually with financial support. We place greater focus on financial performance and we use field research to track the economic and social benefits of the business.
Sometimes our partners graduate from Phase 2 and secure financial support from a bank or impact investor, which we consider a success! Our relationship often continues in the form of a paid consultancy partnership, which in the long-term helps us reduce our reliance on philanthropic funding.