Young mushroom pickers

Meeting with small mushroom pickers

After breakfast we said goodbye to Matadi. Julienne our interpreter went to her farm Nsanda and we left for Kimpese. We got a quiet and skilled taxi driver who brought us safe and sound to our destination. Along the way, we took a short break on the roadside for a snack. Then a small group of very young Congolese appeared. They wanted to sell mushrooms to us. The mushrooms looked very nice and fresh, but we were not equipped to take care of mushrooms today. Despite our lack of interest in their product, they were happy and satisfied, and we offered them soft drinks and mankondo. It seemed to be appreciated. At one o’clock, we arrived to Kimpese. Then we made some preparations for the afternoon and had a little rest, both before and after dinner on my behalf.

At 3 p.m., we were at Emy Miantezila’s office and in his classroom. We were going to meet a group of entrepreneurs at that time and give them additional training. Today, it took an hour before most of the group’s members had arrived. Maybe the takeoff was especially tough today because it was so hot, about 35 degrees. We had walked there, about 1 km, and we had had some materials to carry and our cooling system had made ​​us thoroughly sweaty.

I had prepared 25 flipcharts at home, all in French. This was the first time we tested the material. It is based on the experiences we have gained during these three years in Congo. We think we have understood which areas we should put our efforts in, to make entrepreneurship understandable and practicable for our friends. There may not be any complicated economic theories. It must be down to earth and possible – hopefully – to recognize from their frames of reference.

Emy took care of the teaching. I just needed to make a few remarks. This is one of our goals – to have Congolese teachers take care of the courses. It’s tiring for the students to have a foreign language on top of all the intricacies of enterprise. We will move on to train educators instead of students. We think this will enable us to work more efficiently and to get a larger spread of our activity. It seemed that the material was well received. I have asked Emy to review the material to see if there is any need of explanations and additions.

The largest part of our entrepreneurs have failed to improve their income through their entrepreneurship. Some of them are even worse off now than before. The main reason is that they have used their loans the wrong way and that it has not generated a profit. But there are also other kinds of difficulties. The result in these cases being that there is no income and still a dept to be paid.

When we see our contractors fail, it is also our failure. We learn from it and adjust our approach and our ways of working.

After the entrepreneurs we had a briefing with Emy and presented the new material that we plan to work with, Focus Business School.

At 7.30 p.m. we were back at the home of Nganga and Therese. For my part, I went straight into the shower. Here, the water comes out of the tap. Rarely is a shower as lovely as it was today. Then supper was served. Therese had boiled potatoes for the meal. She makes us feel at home with dishes from our food culture in the North.