Educational visits

Bernt and Yngve are inspecting the engine

Today we woke up in Lisanga, the CEC Church guesthouse in Matadi. There are many guests here at the moment, and we got a temporary room next to the restaurant when we arrived yesterday. Today we will be moving into the Presidential Villa. Given that name, the house makes a show of being something really special, but that is not the case. Anyhow, we are perfectly contented. I will get an office space here, which is essential considering all the desk work I do. We document every little agreement, thereof the need for an office.

This day was reserved for educational visits to members of the very first group of entrepreneurs. The educational visits are part of our follow-ups. We started with Axel Biongo. He invested in 120 chickens. They are now in full swing, laying between 90 to 105 eggs a day. Axel discussed two problems with us. The price of chicken feed has increased by 60% and the price of eggs have decreased more than he expected. Unfortunately, eggs are imported from other countries and they are cheap. But the import will be stopped according to Axel, and to the benefit of the Congolese chicken farmers. Two hens had died, and one didn´t lay any eggs. He has plans of buying new chickens to rejuvenate the poultry flock. In general, Axel seemed to be a content chicken farmer.

We made our next visit to Demba. He runs a general store. His enterprise is located in an area where there are plenty of shops, you can find all kinds of selling as far as the eye can see. It is a special experience to visit a market in Congo. The smells and the atmosphere are quite astounding. Demba puts in long hours. He opens at 8.00 am and closes at 11.00 pm. Sometimes his wife and children help him in the store. His daily turnover is between 20 and 40 thousand Congolese francs, which is the equivalent of $ 20 to 45. He has a general margin of 20 % on the merchandise, and he thinks he is doing well.

Our next entrepreneur is Jean Pierre. He is a lawyer and a teacher, but wants to be an entrepreneur as well. He owns a construction truck for transports to road construction and house building sites. The truck is in the last stage of an engine replacement and other repairs. It will be in business by next month. Jean´s driver came to start the engine while we were there, and it seemed to work just fine.

Next, we visited Philippe Nlandu. His first idea was to keep hens and pigs, since he owns a small property. But the animals got some disease, and he had to quit that line of business. He is currently trading with cement from the factory in Lukala, situated outside Kimpese. He has a stock of 12 tons, and he sells an average of 10 sacks a day. His purchase price is $ 12 a sack, and his selling price is $ 13.

Then we visited Augustine, who runs a poultry farm with 735 hens. Unfortunately, her business has been the victim of burglars who have stolen 200 hens. The hens lay between 620 to 630 eggs a day. Augustine sells her eggs to restaurants, buyers and grocery shops. She has also suffered from the increased chicken feed prices, but she is planning to start to produce her own fodder. She can get both a better quality and a lower cost through a production of her own. The hens consume 125 kg of fodder a day. When the hens are 18 months they are slaughtered. Augustine renews her poultry flock regularly. When we had inspected the poultry farm, we were invited to her house on a Coke. It was very much appreciated in the Congolese heat.

The last visit of the day went to Muditu. Our dealings with him have not been perfectly smooth. We had a good going through with him today, and we reached an acceptable solution. One of the concerns of our entrepreneurs is the tax you pay on all goods you buy, i.e. value-added tax (VAT). VAT was introduced only a couple of months ago in Congo and it is set at 16%.

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