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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 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.

 

 

What these women philanthropists did to empower others

What these women philanthropists did to empower others
Becoming a philanthropist is not something I had in mind in the past 10 years. Personalities such as Mother Theresa, one of the few I followed along with Princess Diana, were not labelled like that in my small village back in France, but more like humanitarians I think. A philanthropist nowadays is a business person with a big heart who does more than just caring about social responsability. I used to donate to various charities but unfortunately none of them had a connection with Congo. This is the reason why I made it my mission to start researching Congolese organisations in the sector of arts and education. Many were helping schools but none were focusing on the creative industry so I decided to start my own initiative.

Where I am from, donating to others is not quite considered as an employment option. So I never imagined that giving back to my community would give another perspective to my work and what it means to do more for others even when you have less for yourself. It was very hard for me because I kind of expected to have the support of certain people, which never came… but it made me stronger and more determined to make things work. My vision was my own and I was wrong to expect people or my entourage to see it as clearly as I did. I remember my ex saying to me ” You haven’t build your career and you want to help people?”, that day I smiled and said yes in my head.

I also smiled because I realised that he was not the man for me and left him shortly after that. I have understood in the last 3 years that as humans, our purpose is to connect and love. Nothing else. We leave everything behind after death so why is it so hard for us to be open and give to one another?

Some of us look at Oprah Winfrey as a role model, for business, and to get inspiration. But the day I looked into Mother Theresa as a role model, a new world opened up. In Africa, Asia and other parts of the world helping your neighbour with whatever you can, comes down to common sense. People helping people without looking or asking for any recognition.

Africans are generally taught to be giving and kind, respectful to our elders by never calling their names. Many other cultures have these basis. Have you noticed that in the Hindu language for instance, every time you hear “Ji“ is often a sign of politeness: babuji, auntyji, etc… in Africa, it’s the same, Aunty, Uncle, Tata. Anyone from a neighbor, to a blood related aunty receives respect every time his or her name is called.

Companies such as Western Union are making millions because of the culture of giving. Perhaps the reason why we don’t really give this a second thought is because this is what we grew up to see.

 

 

 

I am often asked why I started a social initiative when my brand was still at an early stage, instead of fully focusing on building it?

Well, there are 2 reasons, which I actually did not realise straight away.

  • My grandmother, may she rest in peace, was the most amazing woman. Fortunate enough to have found a husband who adored her and made sure she lived a comfortable life. She was strong and loved fashion, jewellery and anything feminine. But what I remember her the most for is her devotion to her church and people she cared for. The street we lived in Kinshasa was “under her protection”. Our house was always open for anyone in need and I really wish I had a chance to tell her how much I admired her heart.
  • My aunt, she once told me after I refused to share my food with my little cousin – “ If you don’t give when you have little, you won’t give when you have a lot “. I remember telling her that whatever she said wasn’t logical because if you have a lot then obviously you are more keen to give to someone else. It is only a few years later that I realised I was wrong and she was right. Having a Giving heart is not everyone’s cup of tea and it definitely is not based on your bank balance. I have seen fundraising events where a room full of millionaires raised only £2000.

To be honest, I feel like my charitable work has made me more vulnerable and sensitive now. When we hosted our first free workshop for ESIMBI with about 250 children in Kinshasa, Congo, one girl came to me, she was 12 years old. She wanted to hug me and said “ Thank you for doing this event. No one ever do anything for us. “

No need to say that I cried…. It was probably the most fulfilling moment of my life.

This article is to highlight women I admire who are giving back whenever they can. I hope that it will help, the reader to understand my point about the art of giving.

But really, I can’t talk about black women and philanthropy without talking about one of the first known African- American woman, who successfully went from being a laundress earning less than one dollar a day to becoming one of the first self-made female millionaires in the United States. Her name was Sarah Breedlove, and she was also known as Madam C. J. Walker, the founder of a hair care empire and a well-established philanthropist.

Ms Walker used her fortune to champion the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other important civic and educational organizations.

How impressive this woman was! Definitely worth celebrating this month. Here are my top 3 Sheros!

 

Noella Coursaris

She founded the Malaika school in 2007, a nonprofit organisation to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. Malaika’s projects are impacting thousands of people’s lives in Kalebuka and are all offered completely free of charge. All these efforts have made her an advocate for peace, speaking to large audiences at UNICEF and the UK Parliament. Let’s not forget the several times she appeared alongside President Clinton on Clinton Global Initiative panels. Noëlla has been interviewed about her philanthropic work on global news outlets such as CNN and the BBC. And that’s only a few things about my Congolese sister.

 

 

 

Naomie Campbell

Our favourite top model is the runaway icon with the biggest heart. I always admired her for being real on camera as she usually simply speaks her mind. To me, that is definitely where her power lies… She organised the first Fashion for Relief to raise funds to help the victims of the Hurricane Katrina. The charitable organization founded in 2005 has since raised funds for various environmental and humanitarian causes. They organise events in association with the London-based non-profit organization CARE. They support international charitable organisations bringing aid to people in crises in different countries. The event always attracts high-profile individuals from the fashion, film, music, and television industries to participate and attend the show.  They have showcased in Cannes, London, Moscow, and Mumbai to name a few but also had partnership with global online retailer Yoox in 2012.

 

 

 

 

Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will have been engaged in philanthropy for many years now. Their established a family foundation which supports a range of causes including education and the arts. Jada graduated from Baltimore School of the Arts, and donated to the school 1 million dollars in the last decade. The foundation also supported an energy start-up called Quidnet Energy, a “developer of grid-scale energy storage systems capable of enabling the baron-free power grid,” and recently backed NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Fusion Film Festival, which works with women filmmakers. The “Girl’s trip actress” has always been someone to watch out for. Her interviews and motivational speeches have me shook everytime. I will always remember that video where she speaks to her daughter about love and what it means to be a woman. So inspirational!

 

 

 

 

I would love for you to let me know who are your role models in the non-profit sector, rather they are from an African background or not.

In life, we must stand for something, whatever that may be. Giving to others has never been about charity, it is about love. Always.