We started discussing the idea of Ensemble Pour la Difference when Amani told us that NGOs are not a long-term solution to the poverty and war that blights Kivu. Amani has worked for the UN and the IRC. He knows what he is talking about. Like many people in Kivu he has personally suffered the violence and tragedy of war, and there is a steely look in his kind eyes when he says that the only way forward is for the people to take the initiative themselves and work together.
So we talked and he said we should set up a consultancy in Bukavu with the expertise and resources to help people run their own business. Innocent at Liaison Congo nodded in approval and said he would help. It was he who said we should call it ‘Ensemble Pour la Difference’.
Patrick also lives in Bukavu and was also there. He took a degree in social sciences and worked in rural development before building a reputation as a journalist, photographer and videographer.
Amani and Patrick in collaboration with Luminosity have started Ensemble Pour la Difference to connect impact investors with local entrepreneurs and community leaders. Luminosity is the first client (so to speak) and Falling Whistles is the second and already Ensemble is reaching out to other investors to help match them with real needs and opportunities in Kivu.
Effectively Ensemble will be an incubator that provides practical advice that is rooted in a deep understanding of the local needs and culture. It is also a collaborative environment for sharing knowledge with other Congolese organisations.
Ensemble Pour la Difference is now managing around twenty business investments for Luminosity and also Falling Whistles and is developing a strong foundation for the future. At the same time it is building a fantastic library of images. Amani and Patrick adopt a design-led approach to ensure their work is rooted in real needs and that solutions are a step change for the better.
Luminosity provides them with financial support and training and will continue to do so until the day we leave the task of incubating businesses in Kivu completely in the hands of Ensemble Pour la Difference.