For more than 20 years, the deadliest conflict since World War II has stunted development in eastern Congo. Health care and other vital services have been provided through foreign aid budgets, but inconsistent funding and frequently shuttered facilities mean these services are almost never available when Congolese families really need them.
Asili is working to change that. A business startup co-created by ARC, USAID international partners, and Congolese families, Asili takes an approach of long-term sustainable development using business principles. It can be thought of as a strip mall with a cluster of businesses in one location, tackling both supply-of and demand-for services. The current business lines include a health clinic, a clean water distribution system, and an agricultural cooperative to help farmers increase their yields and incomes. Services are linked through a monthly membership, which allows members access at reduced prices. The platform is both real and virtual – located in villages and powered by technology.
Asili’s agricultural cooperatives are the spark that gets a community’s economy moving. Asili provides local farmers with the resources, tools, and training they need to become successful and profitable farmers. We give them a loan in the form of seeds and fertilizer, and then provide a guaranteed market to sell their goods once they’re harvested. This model is working. So far we’ve sold over 300 tons of potatoes, Asili’s main crop. Farmers are increasing their income, empowering them to save and access membership in Asili and the other services it provides.
Our clinics are beautiful. Designed with the families who now visit the clinic, patients have remarked on how they stand out as beacons of hope in their communities. And, most importantly, they offer world class quality healthcare – at prices that are affordable to the average Congolese consumer. Since the first clinic’s launch in 2014, our staff have served thousands of patients. Our reputation for incredible quality is spreading. Patients come from all over the region to be treated. Lives have been changed by the simple act of receiving a correct diagnosis for a chronic illness. Having an Asili clinic in your town is viewed as a point of pride - in amazing quality being delivered by Congolese and for Congolese communities.
Our water system
Water is life, a basic need used for drinking, cleaning, bathing, and cooking. For many people living in Eastern Congo though, clean water is a resource that is tragically lacking. Currently operating at conveniently located retail outlets in five villages, and soon to be expanding, Asili’s gravity-based reservoir system has revolutionized our customers’ ability to obtain clean, safe water. So far, we’ve sold over 3,000,000 liters. We are constantly undergoing improvements to ensure that Asili water is reaching the highest possible levels of service. And we’re prototyping the potential of our water sales, selling water in the closest big city, Bukavu, to businesses, establishments, and even other NGOs. We’re learning and growing, determining the best way to bring clean water to as many people as possible.
Asili is rehabilitating communities and encouraging sustainable and lasting development in one of the most challenging areas of the world.
It feels a little bit heavy, I think it’s a huge title or responsibility to feel you’re a change maker…
but, yes, I like to feel I’m a part of change.
- Abraham Leno, Country Director
Part of running a world-class business means constantly iterating, testing, and adjusting how we do things. And now that Asili is going on its third year, we’ve learned enough about our existing businesses that we feel comfortable taking that next step – learning how Asili can be even better. Read More
Why Customer Service is So Important to Asili
From the very beginning, Asili has been about Congolese communities. About families, mothers, and children. About serving their needs and ensuring that they have access to best of class businesses, right in their own backyards. And customer service – so often taken for granted in our own contexts – is a huge part of that. Read More
It’s official – construction on Zone 3 is well underway.
Located in the bustling town of Mudaka, about a half hour from Bukavu, Zone 3 will be Asili’s most ambitious project yet. Our work in Mudaka will have the building blocks of Asili’s business model, but this newest zone will work as a comparison test of sorts to the first two, which are in rural and semi-rural locations. Read more...
ARC Staff Making Change
On World Refugee Day, we launched our fourth annual Changemakers Award Competition. Changemakers is an ideas competition for our 1,600 staff around the world. We ask everyone one simple question and provide the platform for their ideas to pour in. (more…)