At 10 o’clock we went ahead with ”Start your own business – a first outline”. Yapeco had picked out 10 participants. They had received the course material two weeks earlier. Some of them already run a business, and others are about to start a business. Several of them have more than one job, which is a common way to make ends meet in Congo. The group consists of two women and eight men, and four of the participants are pastors – one of them is the district director of the church in Matadi. The managing director of the church, Edi Diafuanakana, was present in the beginning to back us up. He had received our course material earlier this week. In accordance with good manners, we started with a presentation. Each of us five ‘knallar’ talked about our own companies and a few of the experiences we have had over the years. We emphasized that we are eager to share our experiences with them. After a two-hour class, we took a coffee break. Then we split the group into two. Inga-Maj and Gunnel were our translators. The smaller groups made it easier to get the message through and to stay alert in the 30ºC temperature. The course material is divided into five parts, and we managed to cover three of them today: ‘business concept’, ‘exploring the surrounding world of the business’ (business intelligence) and ‘how to make your business competitive’. At the end, the entrepreneurs started on their individual exercises which, among other things, are to describe of their business from these three perspectives.
Samuel Nkailu took care of the ladies. They went to the market to make for some shopping. Samuel guided them to various fabric shops, and got a lot of praise for his knowledge of textiles. There is a huge selection of beautiful, brightly colored fabrics. When Kerstin and Jenny were outside to take pictures of a poster (of a Congolese boy bound for the Nobel prize in 2050), and then went on to photograph the surroundings, they were stopped by two policemen. There is a general ban on taking photographs outdoors in Congo. With composure, Jenny referred to the Matadi Mayor and told them he had sanctioned our photographing. When Jenny invited them to the Guest House to see the permit, the policeman backed down. This was a little bold of Jenny. Actually, we had just gotten an oral permission before witnesses.
In the afternoon, the whole group was invited to Augustine and Yapeco. This was our first visit to a Congolese home. On several occasions along the way we doubted the ability of the bus to really get us up all the steep hills to our hosts. But it worked, and at the top the view of the mountains and the beautiful Congo River was enchanting. Augustine and Yapeco live in a very nice and large house behind solid walls. Yapeco’s brother is a building contractor, and he built the house in the nineties as a display object. Outside the walls, there are ordinary houses and many children gathered around us when we got out of the bus. Bernt conducted them in singing and dancing. We were guided through the house, and through Augustine’s poultry farm behind the house. When Augustine started her business, not even Yapeco believed in her concept. Now, she sells eggs to many restaurants and private persons. Her poultry farm produces 120 000 eggs a year. She wants to expand the business and sell chickens as well.
We were served Swedish pastries. Last year when Augustine visited Sweden, Gunnel Jönsson taught her to make cinnamon buns and ”Silvia cake”. To go back to the Guest House was much easier than the opposite. And the one-way roads of Matadi gave us a straighter way home.
After supper, we prepared the classes for tomorrow. Next part is ‘budget’, and Lars-Ola and Lennart who are the treasurers of the trip, are also the teachers of budgets. Bernt, Hugo and I lent them our advice. We needed an illustrative example. We decided on a budget of an expanded poultry farm. 240 000 eggs a year is the planned outcome of the expanded poultry farm. ‘As long as the budget isn’t a chicken run!’ Bernt joked. At a quarter to eleven the example budget was done. Foreign assignments demand a lot of overtime. We’ll see what Augustine says about it tomorrow.