WHY WE DO THIS
A BUSINESS AND A MISSION
The Economist's Democracy Index 2018, published a few weeks ago. Hopefully the new government in Kinshasa will help the DRC climb the ladder a few rungs in coming years. We believe our educational work will have a positive long-term effect. View and download the full report here.
The foundation of an abundant, peaceful society
A personal note from Congo American founder Hugh Matheson
"Why are you in Congo?"
People ask me that question frequently. Most recently I heard it from a wise Kenyan friend who was visiting Kinshasa on assignment for the NGO he helps lead from its regional offices in Johannesburg. We and our spouses had an opportunity to catch up, and he wanted to know why Marcy and I had decided to put all our resources into this country.
I gave him the business answer: "We see a place with great challenges, which also means great opportunities."
We have been friends for over 20 years, so he wasn't going to let me off with such a superficial answer. "But truly," he probed, "beyond that simple slogan, do you really see sparks of hope here?"
Doing the most good for the most people
I told my friend that things are much better than when I first visited Kinshasa in 1995. The country has a long way to go, but the overall situation is materially improving.
My friend has been in and out of the Congo repeatedly over the past eleven years and he agreed with that assessment, at least as it pertains to basic infrastructure as viewed by an occasional visitor.
But slow situational improvement was hardly sufficient justification for Marcy and me to leave a prosperous political consulting practice and meaningful lay ministry in comfortable Salt Lake City, sell all our possessions and invest everything into one of the world's toughest places to do business. The real motive for a move like that has to be much deeper than "the place is not as bad as it used to be."
I told my friend that we simply had a strong and lasting impression that Kinshasa is the context in which we, with our experience, relationships and resources, can have a profitable business and do the most good for the most people. Of course, good can be done anywhere in the world, starting with wherever you are. But we strongly felt Congo calling us.
What good can we do?
It is a fine accomplishment to create a merit-based, corruption-free workplace for a number of people. It is very worthwhile to help a much larger circle of youth and adults gain practical competence in English, technology and other fields.
Our team in Kinshasa is on the threshold of solidifying those primary achievements, and with your help it will happen.
But we hope to go much further.
Accel and Congo American hope to build lasting institutions that will play a part in the fundamental development of Congolese society by fostering essential social virtues on a large scale.
The importance of social capital and critical thinking
We believe that the quality of society or a nation is nothing more than the cumulative quality of its individuals.
All people are created equal, but all do not receive equal opportunity to develop these important capacities:
The capacity for clear and empirical thought (the ability to test ideas and hold on to the good ones)
The capacity for productivity (the ability to efficiently create or add value to goods, services, ideas, etc).
The capacity for moral behavior (the personal culture of acting in ways that benefit one’s fellow humans, not just oneself).
We strive to provide opportunities for people to develop those critical capacities, because they result in peoples’ ability to trust each other to keep commitments, reliably deliver on agreed results, and find win-win solutions to conflicts and problems.
The economic value of this trust among members of society is called social capital. Contributing to social capital is our deepest purpose for being in business in the DRC because…
… Trust is what enables individuals to cohere into innovative associations, partnerships, collaborations, churches, cooperatives and corporations.
… Those kinds of institutions in turn nurture more trust and unleash the power of voluntary, synergistic collective action based on enlightened self-interest.
… Those institutional dynamics are an essential prerequisite for a peaceful, free and democratic civilization.
Some say Congolese society is irretrievably broken and it is hopeless to try to improve it. But in our students and colleagues we see bright aspirations, immense raw talent and selfless devotion to improving conditions for themselves and coming generations. This makes us sure that the objective is not hopeless. It's just the project of lasting institutions working over many generations, each improving upon the one before it.
A powerful way to change the world
Nelson Mandela said "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." In partnership with you, we will complete the creation of a lasting institution to wield that weapon against ignorance and corruption, in favor of enlightenment and trustworthiness.
We take courage from the fact that education can be a profitable business that outlives its founders and returns profits to its owners. This is especially true in the developing world, where governments are usually incapable of providing quality education and people make significant sacrifices to send their children and young adults to private schools and institutes.
Education is also a business that provides the opportunity for planting more than just facts into people's minds and hearts. From the platform of education, we can nourish seeds of critical thinking and enlightened self-interest. We can encourage and reward the productivity and interpersonal morality upon which an abundant, durable society must be based.
The people of Accel and Congo American are deeply grateful to be working toward these objectives with you, our partners. Yours will be a legacy that produces financial and societal dividends for many years to come.
Scholarly research and information about social capital is compiled and summarized at our web site Bomoto.one.
Click here to visit.
This is Delicia, daughter of ALI teacher Bienvenu Motshikana. This image was made just as she was meeting a new person for the first time. Her face seems to express the nearly universal circumstance of the Congolese people: open to new possibilities, but first needing to figure out whether she can trust you.
© 2019 Congo American LC