Why I created a magazine to empower my Community?

Why I created a magazine to empower my Community?

Early 2017, I was still thinking about my trip in Congo which happened in October 2016. With a few volunteers, we organised a talk for over 600 students and a workshop for 250 kids, in the form of a drawing competition for www.esimbi.org . It was truly the most amazing experience of my life.

For the first time, I really felt the pressure of weighting every word because I understood the impact they could have on these young people’s lives. Kinshasa taught us lessons we didn’t expect. They say if you want to be a millionaire, spend time with millionaires. Your entourage will determine who you will become. Jay Shetty once said that we live in the perception that others have of ourselves. We can’t be what we have never seen. So how to bring those exceptional role models to these young people in a country that is in constant trouble? So one day, they can inspire to great things and believe that they can be who they want.

We certainly always seek the results but do we want to go through the process of what it takes to have that lifestyle. A life long commitment to being better than what surrounds us. It is hard. It is hard especially when you live in such conditions like these children in Congo. Everything is a luxury to them, a pen, a piece of paper, water.

The idea of the magazine came from all this thinking. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to give them something that they didn’t have and could keep. The fear kicked in about 5 minutes after thinking about making this magazine happen. What would the content be? Who would design it? What title could fit my thoughts? and so on…

It started to feel too complicated already. But a voice was telling me to just do it. It was necessary, not for me but for them. They needed to see people who came from similar backgrounds going places. They needed to look up to them and be inspired.

So I jumped in. I chose to call it ESIMBI ( meaning “it works” in Lingala ) like my social initiative. I then ask a work colleague who was good with graphic design to help me with a logo. My colleague and I started to do research about Congo, the history, the forest, the artists, the charities, etc…. and what we found was amazing. Tons of content.

www.esimbimagazine.com

 

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My biggest fear was not to find things to talk about. No content to captivate whoever would read this free magazine that was supposed to be a one off. We simply wanted to give the final product to the schools and libraries. But our audience was larger than that. In fact, it was global. So the project ended up catering a niche of people hungry for knowledge. They want education over entertaining, so our goal became bigger.

I am thankful to every one who helped us on this journey. Especially the ones who told me not to do it because it would ruin my fashion career. This project helped me grow into a better version of myself without even knowing it and I simply hope that this magazine will keep going strong. The african community has a narrative to rewrite and we want to contribute to that immensely.

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Read about the Most Profitable Industries for Women Entrepreneurs in 2019!

Read about the Most Profitable Industries for Women Entrepreneurs in 2019!

The Most Profitable Industries for Women Entrepreneurs

It’s no secret that there is an inherent gender bias when it comes to small business financing. In fact, women are approved for small business financing less often than men, and when women do receive loans, theirs are typically for smaller amounts, over shorter periods, and with higher interest rates.

Since 2015 women are owning more and more small businesses which perform better and achieve 3 times more return than businesses ran by a man. Even against all odds, women are some of the best business leaders in the world.

Entrepreneurship is for anyone and women are choosing to be the driving force of entrepreneurial progress. To help encourage more women to enter the world of entrepreneurship, here are the five most profitable industries that you should consider as a woman.

On-Demand Mobile Industries

Mobile businesses — not to be confused with mobile phone apps, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive — are services that travel to their customer’s home or place of work rather than the other way around. Increasingly, consumers are becoming used to receiving what they want in an instant. And why shouldn’t your businesses capitalize on that?

Laundry delivery services, in-home massages, grocery deliveries, getting your errands taken care of — there’s an on-demand mobile service for just about anything you can think of.

Childcare and Child-Related Businesses

Millennials are now the largest living generation, and the need for childcare services is increasing.

There are many opportunities within the realm of childcare and child-oriented businesses. Services for new mothers are very much in demand. Although these businesses require some education and certification costs, they are relatively inexpensive to keep set up.

If you have an interest in instructing children in a number of fields — yoga, gymnastics, music, foreign languages — now may be the perfect time to start that private education business.

Finally, youth is becoming synonymous with technology. Parents want to give their children opportunities to be engaged, entertained, and educated (as well as occupied). If you have an awesome idea for a child-centric learning app for smartphones and tablets, now is the time to start.

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Online Education

People want to learn more, but they want to do so from the comfort of their own homes and at their own pace. And even if you’re not an academic, there’s probably something you can teach. Offering an online course is a great way to help others while also earning money.

Sites such as skillshare, Udemy, and Udacity, to name a few, you can create videos and share your knowledge and expertise with the world.

YouTube is also a popular place for people to find free content and education, especially when it comes to fitness. Features also now include the option to create closed video live sessions that you can charge people for.

If you’re thinking of getting into the online education, try taking advantage of the community you’ve already built, if they see you as an expert.

Female entrepreneurs may still face an uphill battle, but it’s one worth fighting. The more women we have running small businesses or become head of large corporations, the easier it will be for future generations to do the same. Take advantage of these profitable small business opportunities, and everyone will benefit.

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What if we had more power than they made us think?

What if we had more power than they made us think?

When looking at charity tv adverts’ or those posters in the tube, the metro depending on the city, we have all heard someone ( or ourselves ) say something like, ” I wish I had more money to help these people or this community. ”

Well, what if we could. Really. What if we took a step back to realise that it was never about the money? That if we really really wanted to help someone, it only depends on us.

Today, I wanted to write about the project my social initiative is fundraising for.

ESIMBI ( meaning “It works” in Lingala ) tells stories, stories about children who dream of becoming astronauts, doctors, nurses and teachers. As they wake up every day with the hope that this could be possible, they realise that they live in Congo, Kinshasa.

My homeland. For them, school is hardly affordable, and their dreams are too expensive for their reality. Any little helps as Tesco has taught us.

As a charity and advocate of change in Congo, ESIMBI is always pushing boundaries for the children in our program. Inspired by their resilience and together with them, we at ESIMBI have been learning as well, how to provide them with what they truly need to grow and achieve. It is the least we can do.

The children in Congo are at a great disadvantage educationally. ESIMBI is determined to solve this issue. We are raising funds to bring ESIMBI DIGITAL to Congo. The funds will help us send the knowledge that will help them develop their young hungry minds – neatly packaged as tablets that that can be used offline, due the electricity issue in the country.

Our current program encourages the development of 1,000 children in Congo, and we are growing to aid 1,000 more, to give them the hope that someday what they are learning today will benefit them tomorrow.

We are asking for a small donation to help us reach our goal and make ESIMBI DIGITAL a reality for congolese kids with big dreams!

In partnership with the company Smartspin, we need to raise £8500 to make this project possible and successful.

You can view all the details of the project here. I would be pleased to hear your feedback too.

Do you support any organisations? If so, how did you choose the right one for you?

Link to our website:

https://www.esimbi.org/donate

 

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The fashion industry: how this industry can revive the Congolese economy.

The fashion industry: how this industry can revive the Congolese economy.

How many jobs do you think are in the fashion industry? I am sure the first ones that come to your mind are fashion designer, seamstress and fashion model. In the Congolese community, those are the most mainstream roles in the fashion industry. However, in fashion there are 100 of them, which include and are not limited to Marketing, Finance, Beauty and Operations. So if the question is can the fashion industry revive the Congolese economy? The Answer is yes, it can be one of the driving forces.

In 2015 Fashion was a $1.2 trillion global industry, which included luxury fashion, fast fashion and accessories (bags, jewellery, watches and shoes). Fashion and apparel industries employ 1.9 million people in the United States and the UK fashion industry is estimated to support 850,000 jobs. The number of people that work in this industry in Congo is unknown to me.

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So why and how are Congolese people so limited in their understanding of an industry they swear to love? If you do not understand what I am speaking of, I am speaking of Sapologie. A term engrained in the brain of every Congolese person regardless of whether they were born inside or outside of both countries respectively.

La Sape, an abbreviation based on the phrase Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (French; literally “Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People”) and hinting to the French slang word sape which means “attire”, is a subculture centered on the cities of Kinshasa and Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo respectively. An adherent of La Sape is known as a sapeur.[1] The movement embodies the elegance in style and manners of colonial predecessor dandies.

As Congolese people, we have created a subculture that has been features and respected by not only other African countries, but globally by the likes of African American singers Solange and Jidenna but also, the Chinese community who were heavily involved in Congolese music through Papa Wemba. So if our industry already has a name, already has an impact and is influencing people all across the globe, how are we not or rather how have we not developed a sustainable industry that can create thousands of jobs across both nations and fuel the passion of many artists in that industry?

The main reason is that fashion is not taken seriously, and like any other art, is dismissed over the likes of studies in business, medicine, education and engineering. However, there comes a time when thinking must change and new entrepreneurial ways must be accepted in order to see change.

Why develop Congo’s fashion industry?

The industry is set to double in value in the next 10 years to generate up to $5trillion annually. This presents a huge opportunity for business in Africa, as the combined value of apparel and footwear in sub-Saharan Africa was estimated at $31 billion in 2016.

The fashion industry holds amazing potential to motivate and bring change to some of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children, while advancing the structural transformation needed in the industry and in the country.

The role of creative industries in Congo Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

With 13 million young African joining the labour force on a yearly basis, the development of skill based industry, where people can learn on the job and gain qualifications in a labour intensive sector is imperative to for the stability of our nations. Fashion uses our culture and creativity as a selling point, which can be leveraged both within and outside of the continent.

What can we do to change this?

Investment, training and the industrialization of the industry. There are many more roles outside of being a seamstress in fashion, from textile designer to fashion forecaster, the roles are endless. Let’s broaden the minds of the people in the industry.

Africa currently accounts for just 1.9% of global manufacturing. That figure does not just relate to fashion. With having raw materials available, Congo should focus on moving to the top of the value chain and produce garments targeted at the home and international audience.

Strategic support and investment in local manufacturers should allow the Congolese fashion industry to steadily grow and become an entity of its own

 

 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

ESIMBI believes that there has never been a better time to instill the values of arts and culture in the lives of children and young adults. It is especially important now, as the education system in Congo is not doing significantly enough to develop the talents of the young Congolese population. The world is in a constant state of change; schools need new accountability measures and often struggle to reach the minimum requirements to educate their students.

For Congo to advance, we must do thing differently, financial and institutional capital have been the focal points of education and for addressing society’s challenges. Perhaps changing the way we look at things and take a more creative approach will most definitely have a different social impact. And, this is where the arts and culture are necessary in the Congolese curriculum.

 

 

Arts and culture nurtures and sparks the cognitive ability to imagine, and unleashes creativity and innovation, letting people think differently, develop differently and solve problems differently. Arts and culture is known to breaks barriers, connect people across cultural differences, and engage people who share the same values and skills. There is no investment that brings people closer together and moves people to action more than arts and culture.

The arts sector in Congo is very silent and invisible, so pushing schools away from arts subjects is the norm. There has also been relatively little public discussion of the way that arts and culture or creative learning might need to shift and change in order to play a role in the Congolese education system.

 

 

Article 31 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child states that– All children to be able to participate freely in cultural life and the arts – without providing ‘first access’ at the very least within the school system, how can a Congolese child, understand and develop artistically? The reality is, if the nurturing of arts and creativity is left to families and informal institutes, the Congolese arts and culture sector cannot and will not thrive.

What is ESIMBI doing?

Focusing our efforts on strategies that foster real collaboration—finding the best ways to leverage existing partnerships, work around them where they get in the way, and eliminate them when there is no growth or progress.

Identify the stakeholders who must join, support, and advocate for solutions—we must reach beyond the “choir” to find the right and best people that we can work with and advocate our cause.

We urge Congolese people and Congolese organisations to get out of their own way. Often we are too busy trying to rally people that we are not identifying any solutions (programs, structures, policies, practices, and financial models) that might be outside our comfort zone.

We learn from others and ourselves—a great deal of thinking and work goes into what we do and it shows in the results that we yield.

 

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We know and understand that it will be hard and will take a long-term commitment—this is a meticulous task. The political challenges, economic constraints, competing interests, priority gaps, and complexities are all real and significant challenges.

Ultimately, we must act now. Congo is unstable and has been for some time. We do not need or want to be another African study or statistic. Yet this is the time for substantial challenges that can lead to significant reforms and investments in Congo but only if we have a game changing approach which can transform the country.

How to be the Female Game Changer for Congo?

How to be the Female Game Changer for Congo?

 

The 2018 theme for International Women’s Day was #pressforprogress, with a focus on women’s equality in terms of financial inclusion.

“Gender parity won’t happen overnight. And sources cite that women’s equality is still a long way off. But the good news is that across the world, women are making positive gains, day by day. And there’s a strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.”  – International Women’s Day website

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ESIMBI magazine hosted its first Women in business seminar in London last week.

The room was filled with men and women who were prepared to hear and understand the struggles that women go through but also their successes.

Ika De Jong hailing from Belgium, told her story on how she created a platform as a presenter. A name now known by Congolese people globally.

Noëlla Coursaris spoke (and joked) about her career as a model. But stayed serious with regards to matters close to her heart, the Malaika foundation which supports girls education in DRC. Ten years ago, they build a school that offers free education to all the pupils enrolled.

Yolande Letshou, fashion and branding professional. A relentless woman that has a unique story to tell and who has clients all over the world, spoke of her journey as an artist and business woman.

Tina lobondi founder of ESIMBI said that Congolese entrepreneurs need more help and support, from each other and organisations that work in Congo.

Our guest speaker Lu Li spoke of her great platform, Blooming Founders, the UK’s largest female entrepreneur network.

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Each story, each message sparked discussions that are needed in the Congolese community surrounding Congolese women and entrepreneurship. The event, which was meant to be a one off event, will now take place every year and invite Congolese entrepreneurs, businesses and investors to be a part of the discussion.

It is well known that unbiased access to education and financial services are important in playing a pivotal role in reducing the vulnerability of poor people. In many African countries, however, more than two-thirds of the adult population have no access to formal financial services.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, financial exclusion is as high as 76%. Additionally, exclusion is highest among women, young adults and the very poorest segments of society. Financial inclusion can advance equality for women in many ways.

  1. Having access to resources and to the tools that help them to earn a living, can increase women’s bargaining power on how money and other resources are used within the household.
  2. Financial inclusion can help increase women’s opportunities to earn or control assets outside the household.
  3. Thirdly, it can reduce women’s vulnerability by allowing them to insure against risk or borrow to meet unexpected expenses, such as medical treatments.

These are all key factors for economic empowerment. Financial literacy allows women and their families to understand how the accumulation of assets can aid in achieving their financial goals.

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Our event was not only to celebrate the many roles and positions Congolese women have in society and in the workplace but also show how financial independence helps them make decisions for their careers households and children.

  • To stimulate debate and build knowledge on financial inclusion.
  • To identify entry points for advancing the role of women in Congo.
  • To expand the network of champions and advocates of gender equality in Congo.

The challenge for women’s day 2018 was to make our mothers proud/ using our mothers as example, to have our sisters inspired/empowered, and our daughters envisioned. Congolese women have made great strides in equality yet there is still a great deal to be achieved. The International Women’s Day provided a unique and global opportunity to reignite, inspire and channel Congolese women’s equality for the future.

we aim to recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution Congolese women make in several different industries at our International Women’s Day function. The event brought together professionals from across the areas of construction, engineering, project management and design to celebrate their achievements as part of the 2018 International Women’s Day.

Topics of discussion included:

  • How can women best support one another?
  • Why International Women’s Day is important to me? Why am I here?
  • Who are the women that have had the greatest Impact on your life, and why?
  • What most concerns you related to women’s issues looking forward?
  • What do you want most for the women of tomorrow?
  • What would you try if you knew you could not fail?
  • How do I find direction, fulfilment and purpose in my life?
  • How to strive for, achieve, and maintain balance in our lives?
  • What needs to happen for women to reach equality?
  • How do you think Congo will benefit from a more inclusive society?

It was amazing to share that day with so many inspirational women. I definitely agree that more dialogues are necessary but, Education and Action are the key to progressing towards change. I look forward to taking part in the next event.

The below event will be attending by over 500 business women and I will be there too. If you would like to join us, use my code to get £175 Off the rate week, simply click here to book your ticket.

 

 

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Is accidental entrepreneurship a real thing in Congo?

Although being the richest country in terms of natural resources, people in Republic Democratic of Congo live on under $5 per day.

Despite these challenges, they tend to come up with new ideas to generate revenue to live adequately. Last year Harvard business review wrote an article about why African entrepreneurship is booming. If there is real growth in Africa and there is to be predicted growth in Congo, why isn’t entrepreneurship valued?

These entrepreneurial activities can have a huge impact on the economy of Congo as well as the quality of life of the population in the form of employment. However, an important factor is the missing legislations, training and investment in entrepreneurs. This fact makes business development and business growth stagnant.

Entrepreneurial forces are relatively strong in Congo, as most people become accidental entrepreneurs based on necessity due to the poor economic situation. However, we have failed to realise that entrepreneurship development is the foundation of all economic evolution in any nation.

I took the below pictures on my last trip to Kinshasa with Gaelle who works with me on my social initiative ESIMBI. I wanted to share them as they completely represent how street businesses are the force that sustains the neglected Congolese population but shows their strength and resilience.

 

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Entrepreneurial challenges in Congo

  • The country’s economic has been declining since the 1990’s and its instability have made Congo an unsuccessful place for entrepreneurial capital investment.
  • The lack of adequate electricity, basic internet, which is a must in the business climate, stifle entrepreneurial activities.
  • Female entrepreneurs, are often underestimated and overlooked because of cultural barriers labelling women inherently inferior to men.

 

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The prospect of entrepreneurship in Congo

  • Economic Development: the development of entrepreneurs will increase the National gross domestic product.
  • Reduction in unemployment: entrepreneurship encourages and increases the creation of employment in Congo which contributes the country’s development.
  • Improved way of life: encouraging entrepreneurship development will go a long way to improve the standard of living of the country’s population through innovations.

 

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To fully encourage the development of entrepreneurs in Congo, we need to prioritise education, investment and continuous development. Not only in the entrepreneurs but also the industries that they are working in, this will generate a surge of potential from everyone in the country to see and recognise that they have the ability to change their live and that of others through business, mentorship, and apprenticeship.

 

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