Luminosity supports people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are working to improve daily life and build businesses for the common good as well as their own.
We have seen that such people have their own luminosity, an inner brightness that shines with purpose and good intention. They light the way forward when their community is under strain and struggling to live well. They can bring the hope and stability needed to sustain peace.
Our focus is the Kivu departments in the east of the country, which is one of the poorest and most troubled regions in the world. As a consequence, people’s ability to translate ideas into business reality is often limited by a lack of experience and by a lack of finance. We help bridge the gap with practical support in the form of commercial loans, mentoring and advice, methods and tools.
Who we are
We are a community interest company (CIC), which means we operate as a commercial company with the same obligations to Companies House and HMRC, except that our assets and any surplus profits are distributed to charities and other not-for-profit organisations rather than to shareholders. If you are interested in CICs you can find out more here.
The company was incorporated at the end of 2013 as The Luminosity Initiative CIC and has two directors:
Mike Beeston was previously co-founder and Chairman of Fjord, a service design consultancy with offices in nine countries. He managed the board of directors and was involved in securing investment to start up the Fjord offices in New York and San Francisco and in the sales process to Accenture in May 2013. Prior to becoming Chairman, Mike was Fjord’s Managing Director in London during which time he helped set up Fjord Helsinki, Fjord Berlin and Fjordnet, which is the holding company for the operating offices.
Back in 1994 Mike co-founded CHBi, which was one of the first web design companies anywhere in the world. He continued in the role of Managing Director when CHBi was acquired by razorfish and helped grow razorfish London to become a leader in its market with more than 300 people.
His career previously was as a media planner in the advertising industry, notably for Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising where he was a media group director and a member of the extended board of directors.
Kelley Beeston was for some years the advertising manager of Good Housekeeping since when she has organised fund raising events for charities, managed the regional market and developed her skills and standing as a dance teacher. She also farms the family small-holding. Her down to earth approach and natural empathy with people, especially the women in Congo, enables her to provide practical advice that connects with their needs and situation.
We support people in Kivu who have a business idea that will deliver meaningful benefits to their community as well as themselves. There are three criteria for our partnership:
Business people with this community perspective live in Kivu as much as they do anywhere else, maybe more so! However, the hand to mouth existence means that for most people it’s hard enough to get through the day, let alone think about tomorrow. Most people have to do casual work or operate small shops or market stalls, or repair things or run moto taxis.
Only a few people have the capacity and circumstance needed to build for tomorrow, to see the problems and suffering and to commit to helping long-term. Perhaps they already have a small business and wish to expand. Perhaps they have an idea and the energy to make it work. Perhaps they lead one of the many co-operatives.
We get to know these person and their business and ambitions. If she or he is also working towards the three criteria and if they would like our help, then we commit to a relationship of at least one or more usually two or three years.
Our offer includes
We are very lucky to be able to draw on years of management experience in the design industry and also on the diverse realities of fund raising and farming. Plus we have a working relationship with Dragonfly Coaching for Life and the good fortune to have benefited from tools like Insight and books like the Seven Habits.
Of course we do not impose these things on people or think that they are appropriate regardless of the situation. We have them at our disposal and we can offer the essential points when relevant and in an understandable way.
These tell us to root all solutions in needs and opportunity.
Needs exist at all levels in Kivu and many of them require the resources of large NGO’s rather than an incubator like ourselves. So we have to be clear about our value, which is:
At these two points we offer value - and in so doing we hope we can create opportunity and benefit for the wider Kivu community.
In Bukavu we work with three very special Congolese people – Amani, Patrick and Bahati - who help us place loans with local entrepreneurs, manage relationships and evaluate the work done.
Together we call ourselves Ensemble Pour la Difference. In addition to the daily support given to people running their businesses, we take many photographs and shoot a lot of video. The mission for Ensemble Pour la Difference extends beyond business support to include helping people tell their story.