Microcredit Congo Style II

Microcredit organizing has already boosted the income of many Disciples households and some congregations and

Nathan Weteto, Congo Disciples Communication Director, is the microcredit organizing wizard
Nathan Weteto, Congo Disciples Communication Director, is the microcredit organizing wizard

provides further evidence that the “social economy” can help drive economic development in Congo.  “Mobilising microfinance is critical to the success of social enterprises including through savings and credit cooperative organizations” observed the recent U.N. Environment Program “Post Conflict Environmental Assessment Synthesis for Policy Makers”.  The UN report touts microfinance as a means to generate employment and allow Congolese to “deal pragmatically with their own development priorities”.

But as is typical of Congo culture, microcredit Congo style is often different from the pattern followed in other countries and often varies from group to group.  While some groups begin with seed funding, the Microcredit Union of women in Mbandaka’s Besenge parish began with no funding other than what was brought by members of the group.  Twenty five women divided into two groups and met twice a month, each member bringing at least 1000 Congolese Francs (about $1.20) to the meeting.  One group of women is invited to take a loan on the 10th of the month, according to group leader Mama Micheline Mwami, and the other on the 25th of the month.  The next month the women return the amount taken out plus 10 per cent interest.  Some women bring more than the minimum contribution from month to month to enable larger loans and larger profits for the group.  Within a year, the Besenge group distributed among the 25 women, proportionate to their “investments”, savings and profits of just under $1900.

In the urban setting, many of the women participating in a Disciples organized Microcredit Union begin small businesses with their loans.  By contrast, in the rural setting of Bonsombo (Lofoy is its “mission post”), ten families decided to pool their funds and buy seed and tools to cultivate ten hectares of land, agriculture being the primary source of cash in their experience.  In the cash economy of Equateur Province’s capital of Mbandaka, the potential for larger investments and earnings is much greater. 

Aided by $1400 in seed funding, the Mbandaka pastors’ wives group enabled group leader  Mama Lombe to receive a total of $100 the first three months from her Union’s fund pool.  She set up a table on a downtown Mbandaka street and began selling children’s underwear, soap, tomatoes and biscuits and returned $105, 5 % interest being the group profit on the loan.  After the “Emmanuela” group’s first six months, $2417 was distributed among the members.  More recently, after two years of the growth of the group and of the participants’ small business ventures, $12,000 in savings and earnings was shared by group members.

With no banks now providing credit to the 750,000 persons of the city of Mbandaka or anywhere else in Equateur province, the Microcredit Unions have rekindled the “social economy”, the UNEP report’s term, and         

Mama Lombe on right with Mama Bonanga, the leaders of pastors' wives' Microcrdit Union
Mama Lombe on right with Mama Bonanga, the leaders of pastors' wives' Microcrdit Union

entrepreneurship in urban areas where groups have been organized.  Enthusiasm among Disciples for the Microcredit organizing has led to Pauline Ngoy presenting for students at the Bolenge Protestant University of the Equateur a lecture on “Microcredit and Evangelism”. 

You can contribute to the  Microcredit Union organizing by the Disciples in Congo by sending a check designated for “Microcredit in Congo”  to Global Ministries, P.O.B. 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986.  You can also make a gift online by going to:


A contribution of $150 will enable purchase of a group’s “kit” – a wooden box with calculator, notebooks for each group’s three “accountants”, pens and pencils.  The more contributions received by Global Ministries, the more groups will be started with some “seed” funding as well as the “kit”.

Follow new developments in the Microcredit organizing on Nathan Weteto’s blog; English translation can be accessed at:


A Congolese Warrior Against AIDS

Augustin Bolankoko, Assistant Director of Disciples AIDS programming, died on October 25, 2011
Augustin Bolankoko, Assistant Director of Disciples AIDS programming, died on October 25, 2011

Africa has lost one of its warriors in the ongoing battle against the AIDS epidemic. Because he waged a courageous, public struggle to help stem the spread of the HIV virus among the Congolese people, Augustin Belanoljo Bolankoko  could not be described as a victim of the disease.  When I met him in July 2010, I met a man illuminated by the conviction that he had found his true calling.

In Congolese terms, Augustin Bolankoko had become a wealthy man thanks to employment in the accounting office of a multinational corporation in Kinshasa.  When he was diagnosed with the HIV virus in the year 2000, he gave up his large salary and became the Treasurer of the Disciples’ “Communaute” of the Church of Christ of Congo.  He returned to Mbandaka in his home province of Equateur but his frequent treatments in Kinshasa and the illnesses that beset him forced his resignation as Treasurer. So in 2006, he began the work he will always be remembered for among members of the Disciples Community of the Church of Christ of Congo and among many others in Congo. 

The Disciples office of AIDS programming opened in 2004 following the training of its Director Rev. Alain Imbolo Lokalamba, previously Director of the Community’s Youth Department.  Supported by a grant from the UN   

Director of Disciples AIDS office Rev. Alain Lokalamba assists in receiving the confession of faith of two youth in a rural parish
Director of Disciples AIDS office Rev. Alain Lokalamba assists in receiving the confession of faith of two youth in a rural parish

Development Program, Rev. Lokalamba shepherded the writing and publication of an AIDS education booklet (“Linga Kasi Keba” or “Love But Take Caution”) in comic strip format that gained wide circulation.  The staff of two in the Disciples AIDS office made “I’m Not Passing On AIDS” the motto of their campaign and focused on testing, abstinence or condom use as the cornerstone strategies for preventing transmission of the virus.

Today, there are 8 virus testing centers in Equateur Province, with 5 located in  Disciples clinics or hospitals.  With community education as another key element of their prevention strategy, Rev. Lokalamba with Augustin Bolankoko’s assistance has trained a Director of AIDS Education and Prevention for each of the 22 Disciples’ regions.  Every Disciples Regional Minister has been trained in “accompanying” their ministers and lay people stricken by the virus.  Doctors, lab technicians and nurses in the 6 Disciple hospitals and many of the clinics have been trained in the diagnosis and treatment of the virus and its development into full blown AIDS.

Through the trainings and other public outreach efforts of the Disciples, Augustin Bolankoko shared his own story widely.  Clearly a man with a mission, his proud dignity and the strength of his conviction made it difficult if not impossible to maintain an indifferent or scornful attitude with respect to others with the disease.  Nathan Weteto of Disciples headquarters in Mbandaka wrote in announcing his October death, “He did not spare himself in his efforts to convince the populace to be tested for the virus and to train those suffering from AIDS in the formation of micro credit savings groups to generate income for their treatments.”

Disciples Recently Co-Sponsored a Mbandaka AIDS Community Education Fair
Disciples Recently Co-Sponsored a Mbandaka AIDS Community Education Fair

 Augustin was eager to tell me his story during my Mbandaka stay in the summer of 2010. He was aware that he was part of a world wide movement to turn back the spread of AIDS and I believe he wanted people in the States to know Congolese and in particular Disciples in Congo were doing their part to wipe out this scourge.  I know he would have wanted me to thank Disciples here for funding of the trainings and the German VEM Church for funding the opening of the Disciples AIDS office.  I believe he knew that in spite of the setbacks – the presence of UN troops in Ikela led to half the middle aged adults contracting the virus – the world’s battle against AIDS would be won some day.

While the prevalence of AIDS in Congo has been as high as 7 per cent of the population, Rev. Lokalamba noted there has been a decline to 5 per cent more recently. Given the associated scourges of warfare and abuse of women in Congo in the past fifteen years, the decline must be in part attributed to the work of people like Augustin Bolankoko. So we join Congolese Disciple Nathan Weteto in praying, “May our Lord acknowledge his efforts and may his soul rest in peace”.

A Mbandaka Policeman Undergoes AIDS Testing at the Fair
A Mbandaka Policeman Undergoes AIDS Testing at the Fair

Micro Credit Training for the HIV Positive



Nathan Weteto, Micro Credit Trainer and Organizer


From the blog of Nathan Weteto http://natana.tumblr.com as translated by Dr. Gene Johnson from the French 


46 Persons Living With HIV Ask for Micro Credit

Yesterday, December 9, 2010, the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo completed the launch of the micro – credit for people living with HIV (PVV). Planned for 40 people, the project welcomed the first 44 and
then 2 more were added making a total of 46 beneficiaries.


In fact, the CDCC, with the support of the United Evangelical Mission (MEU) has turned to a new category of persons as part of its program of micro – credit. After women in general and the wives of pastors, it’s the
turn of PVV

The MEU has provided funding for making two kits for the administration of micro – credit as well as U.S. $ 800 as seed money for PVV..

After 3 days of training on the administration of a group of micro -credit, 2 groups of 23 persons each were formed and the beneficiaries have saved, before receiving aid, a sum of 285,000 FC, slightly more than
U.S. $ 300. The cycle thus started will end in June, 2011. We hope that everything will go well, and to the great satisfaction of the beneficiaries.


Read more about the Disciples’ organizing of micro-credit groups in the article “Banking in Mbandaka” on this blog. Enter that title in the search window found in the upper right of the home page.




Congo Disciples Commemorate World AIDS Day

Translated by Dr. Gene Johnson, this posting is from the blog of Nathan Weteto of the Disciples headquarters office in Mbandaka, R.D.C. The blog address is http://natana.tumblr.com.

World AIDS Day December 1, 2010 was a first for the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo. Indeed, for the first time, the CDCC has participated in festivities marking the World AIDS day, despite the existence of an AIDS office in the General Secretariat and various actions that the Community has undertaken in the sense of awareness for the prevention and encouraging voluntary testing. The CDCC has not only participated in these events, on Friday, December 3, 2010 it launched the activity of micro – credit for people living with HIV (PVV) in the presence of many dignitaries of the Provincial government and the Church. 44 PVV are involved in this project which will give them financial opportunities that will enable them to reintegrate into society without hang-ups. The hardest task will be the psychological training of these people for their rehabilitation because they were often stigmatized and often lived on the margins of society.

Nathan Weteto or “Weteto” as he is known by friends and colleagues fills several positions at the “Secretariat”, headquarters of the Disciples “Community” of the Church of Christ of Congo. He is Director of Communications, Head of Personnel, and serves on the Development Committee which oversees such projects as the “Centre Agro Pastorale” at Ikengo.