There’s a clear distinction between businesses that have the potential to precipitate a step change in the community and those that are essentially business as usual.
Step change businesses are more compelling, but business as usual is also important, especially in a community recovering from conflict or for a group of people who might otherwise be unable to earn an income and feed their families. Business as usual is a foundation for recovery and we are supporting business as usual in places like Mumosho, Bugurula and Bweremana. The outcomes are clear and tangible. Families have better homes, children go to school, medicine can be bought and there is hope for a better future.
We will continue to support business as usual with loans. At the same time we will be increasing our focus on step change businesses, especially those that offer a sustainable step change to hundreds or thousands of people. The coffee cooperative CPNCK is in this position, as is Liaison Congo in Bukavu.
Recently we have started a relationship with another step change enterprise. The group is called SOCODI and with our help they are building a micro hydro electric station in the hills south of Bukavu. Another recent investment is in Proxipharma, a pharmacy that is owned and run by a Emmanuel who is one of the few qualified pharmacists in the region. It's his picture at the top of this page. He has set up on the outskirts of Essence and not far from the Panzi hospital. It’s a poor area that until now had no pharmacist within reasonable walking distance.
A couple of years ago step change businesses were difficult to find and equally difficult to start. More people are now coming forward with ideas, as if there is a concurrent step change happening in the community. We hope so. And we hope also to keep our balance and remember that most people have neither capacity or opportunity for step change and that for them, business as usual is just as important.