Luozi is a very nice place, a quiet place on earth. The administrative center of the CEC Church is located here and we use their premises for our entrepreneurial course. Today, a new course began. Ten participants were called, fourteen came. The church deputy superintendent, Matondo is participating, and during the last class of the day, the superintendent Diafuanakana came. Yapeco started the meeting the Congolese way, with a prayer. He prayed that this course in basic entrepreneurial skills will be a new beginning for successful entrepreneurship and progress, both for the entrepreneurs themselves and for Luozi. Then the participants told us a little about themselves. Several of them were already engaged in various enterprises, some in trading, others in growing crops for sale. We mondele also told the group something about ourselves, and emphasized that we are here to share our expericences as entrepreneurs with them.
Almost all Congolese are occupied with commercial activities of different kinds. When we the other day took a walk along the Congo river, we saw some men who were drilling by hand in the rocks. They put wedges in the boreholes to fracture the rock. The stones they got from the process were going to be used as building material. Survival is of course paramount, and you will find practical applications everywhere you go in Congo of the saying: ”Necessity is the mother of invention”. What we see a need for among our Congolese friends is economic planning. The inability to plan probably has a lot to do with the society you live in. In Congo, nature provides a year-round pantry. In that position you don´t need to plan the procurement of food, and you will have the possibility to live for the day. Most people on earth would suffer greatly if they neglected to plan ahead. They wouldn´t survive.
Bernt was in charge of the course today. He started with introducing the 30 points that we call ”Concepts for entrepreneurs in Congo”. You can find the list of points on the website under ”About us”. The concepts are both carrot and stick. There are no shortcuts to success. It takes hard work and sacrifices. We offer tools, but it is the entrepreneur him-/herself who will perform the hard work. The tools we offer are: the course, business loans and follow-ups. Our principles are: openness, transparency and results. Bernt made it clear to the group that participation in the course doesn´t guarantee a business loan. In order to get a loan the participant has to pass the tests and get an approved result. We have to be sure that our message has got through to them. Myself, I used a large part of the day to prepare for future exercises.
After Bernt, Yapeco, MSG´s man in Congo, talked to the group. He went through the forms that the entrepreneurs will have to fill out in order for us to be able to evaluate their ideas and plans. It was probably nice for them not having to listen to the interpretation of strange noises from the white man for a while. The forms cover ten pages, and every participant must hand in a completed document as these are absolutely crucial for us, when we assess the viability of the business idea and whether it follows our principles. After five hours of cramming in +33°C, we felt it was enough for today. Hopefully we have given our participants a few new thoughts and ideas. To be continued tomorrow.