Impact Stories & Blogs

Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.

By Vulcain Yengo (Republic of Congo, Cohort 1)

Since a young age I have been passionate about entrepreneurship. At the age of 15 years, I started my first business selling household oil lamps, clothes, and juice on the streets of Brazzaville. While the business did fail due to continual rise in oil prices, my dream did not die with it. I always knew I had a heart for business, and I therefore set out to enhance my skills.

In order to realize my dream and to empower other Africans to improve their economic power, through entrepreneurship I set out to the U.S. to pursue a Business Management degree at Brigham Young University Hawaii. Upon graduation in April of 2014, I chose to return to Brazzaville, because I wanted to realize my dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

My passion to realize this dream drove me to apply to the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa, and I was fortunate enough to be in the first cohort which started in July 2015. Going through the program, was an amazing experience that surpassed my expectations. A unique aspect about this leadership program is the lifelong engagement that Alumni have with the Center.

Since I graduated from the program I have been busy with my business, Minerve Distribution (MD), which sells and distributes frozen goods to retail shops in Brazzaville using an innovative transportation mode, known locally as Kavaki motors which are motorized cargo tricycles.

Upon graduating from the Center, many networking and grant opportunities were opened up to us. I had the opportunity of submitting my idea for a business plan grant competition offered by the Center’s partner, United States African Development Foundation (USADF).

I started my company after winning the USADF grant competition worth $10,000, which complemented my $10,000 initial investment and another $50,000 I was able to raise from investors. So far, my business has grown approximately seven times over, in less than a year.

When I first launched the business in July 2016, I had two medium-sized freezers used for storage. At the time, my storage capacity was between $1,500 to $2,000 worth of goods and our daily sales were between $200 and $1,000. Today, I have one large freezer container with a storage capacity of food worth $30,000 and our sales have grown to $5,000 per day. When I started, I had two full-time employees, now we have seven employees.

My business is growing and in the next two months it is projected to achieve $8,000 in sales per day.

The growth of the business has been remarkable and it has potential since the Republic of Congo does not have a factory that processes frozen goods such as chicken and beef. Our goal is to rear chicken and beef cattle, then process and package the products for sale.

Beyond focusing on business, I organize the annual Nduenga (local word for Wisdom) Entrepreneurship Conference. Last year, we reached 900 people. About ten YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa alumni from different countries attended the conference. More sponsors have shown interest to partner with us on the annual entrepreneurship conference.

My dream to train Congolese nationals on how to start and run successful businesses is still alive and thriving. So far we have trained over 100 Congolese and those who have been through the training are doing amazing things in their communities.  For example, Christ Tracyvih Ewanga Nde, a 2016 Entraide graduate and one of the best volunteers for the 2016 Nduenga 2016 Conference, just launched his own business ID Tech. ID Tech provides services in IT, Network Set Up, Computer maintenance and other services. The company has ten employees, all native Congolese with a great vision. Nkazi Charli, owner of Kazison Cake and winner of the Nduenga competition 2015 just launched a pastry training for young men and women in Brazzaville. His first training project has been sponsored by UNICEF!

When I was a university student, I raised funds to shoot a documentary profiling successful entrepreneurs in Africa, in order to inspire others. I continue to tell this story of transformation and hope to reach many more Africans and show how entrepreneurship is changing lives in Africa.

I am grateful to the YALI Regional Leadership Center East Africa for opening many doors for me. Thank you to the Center and USADF for believing in the potential of my business idea. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 11:14 AM