The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of more than 80 million people. But the country still has limited access to the internet. This has been one of the challenges to the country’s digital entrepreneurs. Thanks to a small vibrant tech scene that has come up to help overcome the challenges. The scene is situated in Kinshasa the country’s capital and is being funded by the country’s diaspora. Many upcoming entrepreneurs flooded the streets of Kinshasa for the launch of the so-called Ingenious City. This will be a dual space that will be used for meeting and office space. It is installed with an internet of high speed for DRC startups.
Founded by Congolese born Steve Nkashama and Jose Zefu, WapiMED is an online map that allows users to book and pay for medical consultations. The company is currently self-funded. According to Daddy Kabeyal, the Ingenious City country manager, entrepreneurs do not take their time to think about the risk. They only think about how they can bring change and offer solutions to a number of challenges. Kabayel underwent his studies in Europe before getting back to the Capital. He, later on, joined the company after a career in marketing. Congolese living abroad can use their online platform to pay for medical bills of their relatives who are back at home.
Apart from limited access to high-speed internet, investors are also drifted away by security and political risks in the country. Banks are in a position to offer funding however entrepreneurs are getting it hard to convince them that they are a safe bet. According to Baziks’ founder Baya Ciamala, also known by many as Narsix, to be an entrepreneur in the country is one of the most challenging and risky things. He adds that they need a working capital, invests in research and development. This is because it’s a new industry that requires funds and flexibility to operate and move forward which is not an easy task in Kinshasa. But there are signs of hope.
Federation des Entreprises du Congo, country’s trade union launched a special unit to assist young entrepreneurs recently. According to the president of the National Commission for Young Entrepreneurs (CNJE), Serge Nawej, they will help convince the banks to give young entrepreneurs funds. He added that they will advise their members of legal issues and encourage them to share revenue. He hopes to get to 55,000 members by 2020. Brazilian citizen Thomas Strouvens who has his roots in Congo relocated to Kinshasa five years back. He partnered with Jean-Louis Mbaka to launch a startup in 2017. This came after quitting his advertising job. The two developed Youndee a real estate platform that links owners, buyers, sellers, and renters. They managed to raise capital and employ eight individuals in Kinshasa. According to Strouvens, the company is well organized and has a stronger tech community than the people can imagine. He adds that it proves that there is a huge potential in the city. Entrepreneurs only need a slight support from the private sector and the state.
Start It Congo co-founder Jonathan Kiloso spend many years in France with an aim of supporting six startups from Congo in 2017. He says that he wants to be of help to his country and make a profit at the same time. Baziks that aims to promote African and Congolese musicians got backing from Kiloso.
Ciamana compared Congolese music to Brazilian football. He added that there was a chance of putting up their company in France. But they have the feeling that Congo needed its services more. Baziks uses followers system to connect listeners to the African musicians. The application gives premium subscription service and pay-by-song service.