Espoir Congo’s incubating micro-enterprise program helps empower bright young men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds that have the skills and desire, but lack the capital, to start their own businesses. Here is the story, told in her own words*, of one program beneficiary named Olga Mvuedi, who received a sewing machine sponsored by an FCF grant. Olga also received a new lease on life, becoming a successful businesswoman in spite of a difficult upbringing and many life struggles.
I was born in Kikwit, a city in the province of Bandundu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I lost my father when I was barely three years old and I stayed alone with my mother, because my dad’s family abandoned us. My mom started selling various items to feed and clothe me and to pay the rent. We moved to Kinshasa, the capital, where my mom’s family lived. At first it was difficult for us to get adjusted to life there, but my mom managed to find a job as a cleaning lady for our survival.
When I turned six I started going to school. Life was hard, but we kept fighting. Many times we went to bed hungry; we had no one to help us, neither my father’s family, nor my mother’s. She would always tell me to hold on to hope and it is this hope that made me into the girl I am today. When I was in my last year of high school, I was forced to stop my studies for lack of finances to cover the school fees. It was like a wall had erected before me and I was so desperate because my mom didn’t have the means to cover all the expenses required to take the final high school exams. I would cry night and day and there was no one to answer my plea, except my mom who kept encouraging me. Difficulties we always have with us, but we never lose hope. My mom lost her job, and since we had nothing to pay the rent, we went to live with one of her friends.
By a miracle, I was able to pass the exam and obtain a diploma in tailoring. Then I did 6 months of practical training in a tailoring shop. I now had the qualifications needed to start my career as a seamstress, but I lacked the tools to start my own workshop. That is when I was introduced to Espoir Congo, and I enrolled in their character building course.
Without my knowledge, a big blessing was waiting for me: the project managers Gino and Clotilde offered me a sewing machine with most of the needed tools to start a micro-enterprise. Thanks to this gift, today I am able to take care of myself and to support my mom as well. I am so grateful for this great act of love. I am planning to use this equipment in the best possible way, and if possible, I would like to eventually study fashion in university.
Footnote: Olga is a very creative and hard-working young woman. As a part of the program she receives training in business management from Espoir Congo, who monitor her progress. She recently reported that she already has several customers and her business is rolling!
* Translated to English, with some editing