EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO Congo American LC opened the doors of American Language Institute in Kinshasa.
We started with a decent plan. Then experience showed us what had to change. We are adjusting accordingly.
ALI's product is now proven, our business process is streamlined, and our competition is in retreat. We have arranged to move the Language Institute to a vastly superior location in the heart of our target market. We expect to achieve operational break-even during the first half of 2019.
Beyond the world of adult education, we are entering a partnership with a well-established and highly respected K-12 school group with plans to launch an integrated, intensive English program in their flagship school in September 2019. We are also developing a complementary youth environmental education and tree-planting program that will give us the opportunity to teach core societal principles and life skills to hundreds of thousands of young people.
Our work has been financed by $1.22 million in equity and debt over the last two years. Significant cost-cutting and program changes provide a path forward to profitability. Additional capital of $130,000 is required to open at the new location and reach self-sustaining operation and profitability. As of today, $90,000 of this amount has been secured so we are still watching for the remaining $40,000.
I invite you to participate in this final tranche of start-up funding. Completion of this funding will enable us to return to Kinshasa and make the changes needed to start a new session of classes.
The time is right
The long-overdue election in DR Congo has passed without a major disruption. The residents of Kinshasa are optimistic about the new government. They are returning to their hard work of earning a living and seeking better opportunities. Many see English language skills as a key contributor to a better life.
With the political situation calm, we started a new session on February 4th. We are implementing the changes described in this report, which will set the company on the path of growth. The remaining funds are needed urgently to make it happen.
It's a "go/no go" decision.
Will we go forward?
Marcy and I are able to continue working without compensation thanks to a modest monthly allowance her parents kindly provide. We are 100% committed and we see a realistic plan for achieving financial break-even in the next two quarters, with prospects for significant growth after that. The staff at all levels are tightening their belts, adjusting work hours and finding ways for our organization to reach financial self-sufficiency and profitability. Scroll down after this letter for details on the opportunities ahead of us and our preparations to take advantage of them.
For all of these reasons, those of us who work on the ground believe the decision should be "go". Will you please spend a few minutes reviewing the information below to see if you agree?
With deep gratitude for your confidence,
Congo American LC
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Accel volunteer Claire Matheson standing in the flood that appears in front of ALI's original building every few weeks during the rainy season. Click on the image to watch a 3-minute video comparing our old and new sites. Music by Congolese artists Samba Ngo and Baloji.
ALI's original location is in the wrong part of the city for most of our clients. It's also too expensive and prone to flooding. But a great alternative is available. Watch the 3-minute video above for a quick overview. With your help, ALI's next session will be in a much better location at a much lower cost.
ALI + NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CURRICULUM = ENGAGED STUDENTS
The "Life" English language curriculum from National Geographic Learning/Cengage provides a colorful global perspective that our professional adult students find very engaging.
Our original plan was to use a research-proven curriculum that avoided the cost of books and CDs. Only one problem: our students didn't like it. We switched to "Life" from National Geographic and student satisfaction came to life!
COMPETITION FROM U.S. GOVERNMENT IS LOSING GROUND
The American embassy's Congo American Language Institute ("CALI") has moved into shipping container classrooms away from Kinshasa's core market area, while with your support we will be moving into the very heart of it.
Our main competition is a program of the US Department of State called "CALI". CALI recently lost the lease at its main location. And it also appears to be losing market share to ALI.
THE BENEFITS OF RESTRUCTURING
On advice from our tax advisors and attorney in Kinshasa, we have established a non-profit entity for the public-facing aspects of our work. The dual structure is providing significant financial and operational advantages.
By placing some operations into a non-profit NGO called "Accel Academies of Congo ASBL", we have gained advantages in taxes, immigration and curriculum importation. Read more to see how it works.
CONTROLLING COSTS TO ACHIEVE PROFITABILITY
Accel American Academy teachers Adams Musela, Bienvenu Motshikana, Tyler Kaelin and Mariesa Miller (L-R above) donated much time and energy to pioneer our intensive English program for K-12 students.
Our primary objective for the first half of 2019 is for operational costs to be lower than revenues. This once-elusive goal is now possible thanks to extraordinary people like Adams, Bienvenu, Tyler and Mariesa. Click "Read more" for a deep dive into how we are cutting costs on the path to profitability.
FINANCING THE LAST STEP TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY
These charts summarize the resources that have sustained our work so far (left) and how new capital is being deployed to transform us into an organization that takes in more than it spends (right).
With the development stage behind us, we have a clear path to growth for 2019. Based on the lessons learned from our first five quarters of academic operations, we know what to do next. The capital now being raised will fuel the transition to self-sufficiency and profitability.
MARKETING: HIGH VISIBILITY AT LOW COST