By Paul Ndiho
A Congolese entrepreneur is leading one of the world’s largest container shipping companies’ Maersk line, in the democratic republic of Congo, and Congo Brazzaville.
MAERSK LINE DRC PKG - No ChyronsHer story is inspiring to thousands across the region. Despite repeated hardships, Nancy Mbalayi’s ability to lead a male-dominated industry is amazing.  As the chief finance officer for Maersk line, she oversees the democratic republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville, managing nearly half a billion dollars in annual revenues.“When they look at you as a young lady, when you are competing with other men in this industry, and the shipping industry is a very high male-dominated industry. You have to show that you are a master at what you do. So, I challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone, to learn a bit faster, and also to show that I can take more.”Mbalayi is part of the next generation of young African leaders who are trying to make a difference and inspire others to aspire for leadership positions.“You need to have the passion first for what you are doing. You need to be highly engaged and motivated because it is not easy, especially in our context here in the D.R. Congo and Congo Brazzaville. There’s a lot of challenges that you cannot master. So, you always have to be ready to make the right decision at the right time.”Mbalayi attributes her accomplishments to partners and supporters and says her goal is to empower other young entrepreneurs through mentorship programs.“It goes far beyond the capital; because leading people, it all starts with leading yourself. You have to know who you are, what your values are, what makes you fight every day, and what makes you tick. Because the why is the reason – why you wake up every morning, despite what’s going on in your life.”Nancy’s rise to the top has not been without its challenges.The challenges are a lot, but I see them as a way to do better, to improve. As a woman in our African society, we are seen as a mother first more than a human being. So, the people looking after you to take care of your family, to be a good wife, to ensure that the food is ready that the house is clean and whatever. So, I would say that it requires additional effort.With offices in Kinshasa and Matadi, Maersk line is creating employment and helping businesses in the country to connect with key global markets.The voice of America was recently given an exclusive tour of the new multi-billion-dollar container terminal located at Matadi on the Congo River.  The facility opened for business in august 2016 with the help of the Philippines, in partnerships with the Congolese government and the private sector.The new terminal is fitted with state of the art security cameras, sophisticated computer systems, modern cargo handling and storage facilities — including a fire engine and an ambulance on site. The new terminal dubbed a one-stop shop has dramatically reduced the cost of doing business transactions like clearing cargo and paying taxes — it has also restored some faith in the system.Critics say that even though Maersk line has made a concerted effort to localize many management positions previously held by expats in Africa, the company still falls short and needs to do more.


By Paul Ndiho

Could robotic traffic cops become the ultimate answer to solving one of the worst traffic jams in the democratic republic of Congo? These 8-foot traffic robots are the talk of the town — and they’re giving human traffic police some severe competition.Thereza Izay Congo Robots

The Congolese capital – Kinshasa has one of the worst traffic problems in the region. In the sprawling city of over 12 million, residents often say they plan their lives around the heavy traffic, which usually continues throughout the day. Driving short distances can often take hours. Drivers often disregard simple traffic rules. Traffic patterns are very unpredictable in Kinshasa. If you are driving to a location less than a mile away, you might need to give yourself 60 minutes lead time, and sometimes it’s even faster to walk.

Disgusted by the city’s traffic, Therese Izzy, a Congolese engineer, set out to find a solution. Working under the umbrella organization of Congolese women engineers, they developed a homegrown innovation dubbed robotic traffic lights. It’s an invention makes it difficult for Kinshasa’s motorists to get away with traffic violations.

“The robot has two important applications; the first application is for road safety, it functions like any traffic lights in the world. The second application is the surveillance cameras. The robots send images in real time to the monitoring team.”

The solar-powered aluminum robots are gigantic, towering over the streets jammed with cars and motorcycles blasting their horns and jostling for room.

Many commuters are forced to travel in old vehicles that often leave them stranded.

“What’s right about the robot is that it gives you clear signals. Unlike traffic police, i think the robot is better because they don’t to stop and talk to you. According to Kadomula, a motorist.

Since 2013, these robots have been helping to control Kinshasa’s traffic, with rotating chests and surveillance cameras that record the flow of traffic and send real-time images to the police station who use the footage to monitor infractions. Another motorist shares a similar sentiment.

“I prefer the robot. Because you cannot distract the robot. And the traffic police can ask you for money. So I prefer the robot.”

What started out as a pilot project, has now expanded beyond the capital city, to include Lubumbashi and Matadi. Izay says this technology is being adopted in other countries in the region.

“We are ready, we are waiting for other countries to invite us to transfer our technology, and we have already signed a contract with C.A.R We are waiting for them to finance the project. We are in talks with Ivory Coast, Congo Brazzaville, and Gabon.

Kinshasa’s rush hour traffic is slowly easing at some of its major intersections. Not all motorists are fully on board with the robots.

“The robot works fine it’s good. But sometimes it does not work very well, we, drivers sometimes don’t follow its signals.”

Some critics say that at a cost about 25-thousand dollars per unit, the robots are too expensive for most of the cities in the region. However, Therese Izay, says her company is trying to position itself as a rising force in the area by producing more traffic controlling robots.



This is a fascinating story about a Zambian woman, a trained nurse and cardiologist in Australia, who quit her medical career and moved back to southern Africa to launch Tuzini Farms, a commercial farming company that specializes in growing tomatoes. IMG_0866

Being passionate about your work is a major key to being successful — and Maria Zelina Zaloumis is no exception.

“I love farming it’s a passion and a hobby—Farming is very addictive, and I plant every day.”

It was that passion that triggered her to revive her family’s half hectare tomato farm after her father became too sick to continue as its manager.

“I came back here, and I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw in the public hospital especially the availability looking after people as you know it’s my job I also wanted to change in career. So I changed it and these plants are very similar to my profession when I’m looking at I’m looking at plants, I am looking at people. They need nutrients, they need water, need food, and finally, they make children who are the tomato.”

With a small amount of savings from her old job, Maria has now turned her family farm into a commercially viable and profitable business.

“I have five different varieties on the farm. This variety I grow according to the market, so I grow for the supermarkets, as well as your regular markets. For example, this red tomato and I grow it according to the season in winter and summer. This is the quality of the tomato, and I only take it off when its blood red.”

Dubbed Zambia’s “Tomato Queen” and the nation’s youngest commercial farmer, Zuloumis has her sights set on expansion. Today, the Tuzuni tomato farm employs over 40 workers and brings in about $800 dollars a day.

“My main aim is to reduce the poverty that’s happening especially in my country in Zambia there’s a lot of poverty, there’s a lot of unemployment, there’s a lot of crime, so by giving people jobs, I am empowering them to become better in Life.”

Maria admits that she doesn’t have any formal training or background in farming, so she depends on the advice of Remmy Mayinga her Syngenta agronomist — a crop growing expert — on what species to grow and how to effectively manage the farm.

“I come down to the farm and do the scouting, and I go field by field trying to identify the problem and sit down with Maria. Draw up the spray program, look at what type of chemicals she has in stock and what is needed. The help I am rendering to her is some technical advice and some fertilization and how she is supposed to keep the crop and get high yields.”

Mayinga is also farmer, and he says Zambian youth should change their mindset about agriculture and go into farming.

“I want to empower the youth to go into farming. There is money in agriculture than waiting to get a salary at the end of the every month.”

Like any start-up company, the Tuzini farm is not without its challenges. For example, price fluctuations, the weather and getting the tomatoes to the marketplace can be a challenge, but Maria remains confident.

“What inspired me was when I came on a half a hectare, I saw the potential that the farm could have. I wanted to invest the money that I came back within something lucrative, and farming was the way to go, and I enjoy it it’s just the passion that I have.”

For young people wishing to get into farming, her advice is to be willing to get their hands dirty. Maria’s dream is to build the next tomato processing plant so she will be able to export her tomatos across region to other African countries and beyond.


By Paul Ndiho

This is a fascinating story of a remarkable young man James Mooney who is already taking a leadership role in helping some of the worlds’ most vulnerable people young children diagnosed with Cancer and two hospitals partnering together for a social cause to address pediatric cancer in Mbarara Western Uganda. Mass Gen bites

The World Health Organization reports over 200,000 children worldwide receive a cancer diagnosis each year.  Four-fifths of these children could survive, if they received appropriate medical care.  Ninety per cent of deaths in children with cancer are in low-income countries where medical care is not available or adequate to treat their cancers.

Well, I have come here in Boston find out more about pediatric cancer and what this partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, the teaching hospital of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, in South Western Uganda is about.


It all started nearly three years ago when a young James Mooney was on a summer vacation with his parents visiting Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara Hospital, and a village home of a sick child. This eye-opening journey inspired James Mooney to return with a plan to raise awareness for children with cancer by recruiting students to run in a race, “Uganda Color Run for Pediatric Cancer,” and raise money through a GO FUND ME website for this cause.

“I do fundraising and work on projects in Uganda to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and build more facilities at Mbarara University of Science and technology to help them build better facilities and better equipment to combat pediatric cancer.”`

James Mooney comes from a generous family – their Mooney-Reed Charitable Foundation, has given away more than $13 million in charitable contributions in recent years. The Mooney family is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

They have many charitable interests. Through his parent’s interest in supporting Mbarara Hospital, James is developing his own interests in Uganda. He and his family are raising money to build a malnutrition clinic for children and an emergency medical fund for Mbarara hospital.

“Three years ago was my first trip to Uganda, I went with my family, and we went with Doctor David Bangsburge. He used to work at Mass General Hospital, and he used to be the heard of the Global Health Initiative. So he brought us to Uganda to show us around and show us the facilities, the country, and what his project was all about. And at the end of the trip, I decided that maybe this is something I want to get involved. So I decided, I went to David, and I was like “hey I want to do a project I want to help out. What does the hospital need?”  And he was like, “well they are trying to build a new pediatric cancer ward. And they need help with that. In general, in that region of Africa, they need help raising awareness for pediatric cancer.”

James Mooney and his family in collaboration with Mass General Hospital have since built strong ties with Mbarara University and Mbarara Hospital and promised to be a lifeline for those children diagnosed with Cancer. So far this young budding philanthropist has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support Mbarara Hospital, and some of the money has gone directly to the construction of this pediatric cancer ward.

“My big goal was to raise the money so that I can build the facilities so that they could treat pediatric cancer but also raise awareness, and that’s where the idea of the color run came in.

Mooney says early detection for pediatric Cancer is critical and a lot of people especially young children don’t know how, or they don’t have the means to detect it early.

I’ve always wanted to help others and improve the lives of people who are less fortunate or just improve the lives of anyone who needs help. And I guess just to be the best version of myself.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and Mbarara Hospital have had a Partnership that spans a couple of years. Dr. Howard Weinstein, Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Mass General Hospital for Children has made several trips to Uganda.  He says that Mass General clinicians and researchers are helping to improve health care and conduct pioneering research in Uganda.

“My goal is to be able to take what we’ve learned here, use it to all parts of the world, and we’ve been very excited to work with our colleagues and Mbarara Uganda. To help develop a Childhood Cancer program so that children in Uganda can have the same opportunity for a long and healthy life as do the children that we’ve seen in Boston Massachusetts.”

There are over a dozen types of childhood cancers and several sub-types. Dr. Weinstein says Pediatric cancer remains a leading cause of death in children in developing countries but is treatable.

“Our goal is to develop a program that involves on training doctors nurses pharmacist and pathologist how to diagnose and treat children with cancer I’m willing to help the team in Mbarara become very of the necessary careless involved in taking charge of a patient who has cancer.”

Cancer in differs considerably from cancer in people of all other ages and the cause of cancer in children is not known.

“We don’t know what causes childhood cancer, but despite that, we can successfully treat many, many children. We’re doing a lot of research to try and understand what causes childhood cancer.”

Mass General’s Web site says the Collaborations between Mbarara University Hospital and Mass General physicians and scientists began over a decade ago. Initially focused on the care and treatment of persons living with HIV, the collaboration has grown to include cutting-edge biomedical research, technology innovation, and economic barriers to improved health.

Cara Olivier is a nurse practitioner at the cancer center and with its global health program. She has been traveling back-and-forth to Mbarara Uganda for the last two years to work on the adult and pediatric oncology initiative. She says the partnership between the two hospitals could not have come at better time.

“What I found was a group of physicians and nurses and pharmacists who are all working incredibly hard, and all wanted to deepen their understanding of oncology care and the best way to help patients who are diagnosed with cancer and true to their illness.

“The challenges I hear most commonly, are that they know exactly what to do to help the patient get through this diagnosis. And they’re just trying to find the resources to make it happen it is an incredibly intelligent group, and bright group of physicians, and nurses who know what they need to make it better and who are just looking for ways to access that.”

The partnership has helped Mbarara Hospital start centers of excellence. For example, treating adult cancer and children’s cancer. Speaking about the collaboration between the two hospitals, D r. Celestine Barigye, Director of the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, said with the help of Mass General Hospital – they’ve built a new ward for pediatric cancer and cancer patients, especially children, have been moved away from those with general illness.

“I appreciate Mass General Hospital from the United States. Who has given us the money that we used to construct and initiate this project and therefore as we progress, we’re going to handle diseases of the adults, cancers of children but also we’re working very closely with Uganda can institute which will be giving us medicines. ”

Meanwhile, Last year Uganda’s only radiotherapy machine used for treating cancer broke down beyond repair, and that left thousands unable to get potentially life-saving treatment. Sources say that the government has purchased a new machine. The project will support the Uganda Cancer Institute to deliver high-level Education, clinical training, and research and provide care for cancer management for Ugandans as well as the population of the region.


By Paul Ndiho

From a rather unknown idea a few years ago to a buzzword, the coworking movement is spreading rapidly around the world and changing people’s way of working and developing new businesses.  Well, here in the nation’s capital Hera Hub, is offering trendy co-working office space to women entrepreneurs. highres_456907488

Julia Westfall is the CEO Hera Hub DC, a Co-working space in the Washington DC metro area where she works to cultivate an ecosystem that supports budding women entrepreneurs as they launch small businesses, collaborate in a professional, productive, and spa-like environment. The platform provides our members with connections to other business experts, access to educational workshops, and visibility within the community and the support they need to be prosperous.

“I bought a franchise 3 years ago and started the business here we’re female Focus co-working space. We provide professional meeting and work space for women who primarily work from home and are looking for a professional place to meet their clients then to work and collaborate with other women.”
Here at Hera Hub, new businesses have been spurred, funding secured and lifelong friendships built. Ms. Westfall says her vision is to support more women in the launch and growth of their business.

We have a great variety of women, We have Lawyers who work out of our office here, we have people with marketing companies, we have writers, several bestselling authors, we have people that are have nonprofits, and support no profits, we have business coaches, and personal coaches, and parent coaches, so it’s a really large variety of all different types of businesses. Which is really great.

Julia Westfall has spent nearly 25 years working with small business helping them with their bookkeeping and cash flow Management says the Hub is not a one-size-fits-all coworking community.

There are several business benefiting from Hera Hub. For example, YAATRA Ventures, platform that is investing in infrastructure, energy and power to accelerate economic productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rajakumari Jandhyala is the managing partner of Yaatra Ventures.

We recognize this is a problem of lack of infrastructure, and so we’re trying to link private Capital with public sector demand for infrastructure on the continent. Our focus is infrastructure around economic growth. Our investments in let’s say power, energy, and any infrastructure that supports a valued chain, that increases productivity. Weather its agricultural production, or adding value to the oil, that’s being discovered how to transform bad into products.

Another entrepreneur taking advantage of the co-working space is Lisa O’Donoghue-Lindy, Founder, of a social enterprise “She Inspires Her” an online and mobile media platform sharing stories about women entrepreneurs in emerging African markets.

“I basically interview women from all over sub-Saharan Africa, and I write their stories up about their businesses, and how they got started, the obstacles that they faced, the roadblocks, how they overcame them, and resources that they have used and then I post a story on my website.  I do a lot of social media promotion of the women, and their businesses, and the main goal is to offer inspiration to other especially younger women out there who maybe don’t realize the potential that lies within them. They see themselves in these stories.

Analysts say in emerging markets, although 8-10 million small and medium-sized enterprises are owned by a woman, at least 30% of women are self-employed in the informal sector. In sub-Saharan Africa, that figure is above 70%. Lindy’s mission is to support the growth of women-owned small and growing businesses in Africa and plans to open a Hera Hub franchise in Namibia.


By  Paul Ndiho

The United States is the world’s top refugee resettlement country. More refugees have resettled in the western state of California more than any other state over the past seven years, according to the United Nation High Commission for Refugees data. Former African Refugees in San Diego, California are giving back to the community that once helped them. Refugee bites

The United States admits tens of thousands of refugees each year, fueled by successions of strife around the world — from Syria – Congo DRC – South Sudan – Burundi and from Somalia – Iraq. Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s limited travel ban restricting travelers, refugees and immigrants the United States remains one of the top destination for refugee resettlement according to UNHCR, which works in close collaboration with U.S. governmental agencies and NGOs responsible for resettling refugees in the country.

El Cajon city in San Diego County, California has become a hub for such resettlement. There are many agencies and support groups for refugees, but one of the most important is the Alliance for African Assistance an NGO founded by Walter Lam over 20 years ago, to help refugees resettle in San Diego and adjust to American life and culture.

Walter Lam, arrived here in the United States from Uganda more than 30 years ago as a refugee. Today he is giving back to the community that once helped him. And So far he his organization has resettled refugees hundreds from over 20 different countries.

“One key thing that we know about refugees that are coming in here, all of them that are coming in here, if you talk about those that have children, they want their children to go to school. They want their children not to go through the suffering that they went through. That’s the primary reason why all refugees are coming in here and then becoming productive citizens of the United States.”

Resettling experts say 2017 is by far the worst year for refugees attempting to transition to the United States because of the restrictions imposed by President Trump.  These affect travelers and refugees to the U.S.  In June; President Trump applauded the decision by the US Supreme Court to allow part if his revised travel ban to take effect until it reviews the issue definitively in October.

The executive order prohibits granting new visas for travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, and suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.  For Walter Lam, this travel ban has created confusion.

“When I talk with our colleagues in Nairobi, we I talk with people that are processing refugees overseas, all they tell us is “nothing is known at the moment.” It is meaningless for them to give hope to the refugees and start processing, telling them they “may be coming.”

Despite these hurdles, Lam maintains a positive attitude and says this travel ban will pass and hope to continue with his mission of helping refugees.

“The future of refugees program, at the moment, is completely unknown. At the beginning of the year this year, the state department had authorized us to resettle 950 refugees. And remember, we have three months to go now, to end the fiscal year. Right now we have resettled 422.”

Another Refugee giving back to the community is Zainab Danso, who fled conflict in her native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, over 20 years ago. Zainab, along with other family members lived in a refugee camp in Uganda.  As luck would have it, in 2015, Zainab, along with the other family members were resettled in El Cajon, San Diego under the UNHCR resettlement program.

Zainab started working as a volunteer the Alliance for African assistance as a case manager. Her mission is to give back to the community and help newly arrived refugees find their footing.

The fact that I’ve helped people become self-sufficient makes me happy. It is part of me to help another person, and another person to be self-sufficient in America.  I am glad to hear that young lady, helped me do such and such a thing. She helped me find a job; she helped me find my first job in America, which is the very most important thing right now. I mean touching people’s lives.

UNHCR says once a refugee has resettled in the U.S., they are assigned a “sponsor” when a case is approved, and the resettlement agency assures their case. For Zainab, she says helping refugees is not without its challenges especially if they don’t speak English.

Try to put some little English classes for the refugees so that when they come here their life is a little bit easier. They can study some English from the camp, not to start English from here. I mean, back in the camps they don’t do anything. Apart from going to their appointments UNHCR, IOM, they can have little English classes before they come to the US.”

El Cajon is home to an estimated 60,000 recent immigrants from Iraq and parts of Africa alone. The police department is actively trying to engage the immigrant and refugee population. El Cajon police has stared community outreach — where police officers are working directly with newly arrived immigrants, for them to feel like they are part of the community.  My colleague, Solomon Serwanjja from our partner TV station NBS, asked Chief Davis about community policing.

“The refugee populations, regardless of what country they come over from, Middle Eastern country, Iraq, Syria, Uganda. First of all, the people we see coming over, they are very appreciative to be here. They want to assimilate, and they want to learn and as far as behavior. There are no problems. It is incumbent upon us, I feel, as the police department, to reach out to the refugee community and ask them what their needs are. To educate them on what law enforcement can provide—the services.”

But the city has also had its share of racial turbulence, especially in the wake of the fatal shooting in September 2016 of Alfred Olango, an unarmed Ugandan refugee, by an El Cajon police officer.  Despite this setback, Chief Davis, is optimistic about immigrants and refugees settling in the United States.

A State department website says the U.S. refugee resettlement program reflects the United States’ highest values and aspirations to compassion, generosity, and leadership. Since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. Refugees have built new lives, homes, and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states.


By Paul Ndiho

Impact Hub has been getting a lot of attention lately in the tech world, and for a good reason. The Hub has co-working space in more than 100 cities worldwide it is changing the way members, and social change entrepreneurs interested in solving everyday problems come to see their start-ups kick off. unnamed1

Located in the heart of Washington DC, Impact Hub is a membership community of entrepreneurs, activists, creatives, and professionals taking action to drive positive social, economic and environmental change. Jan Baker runs the hub here in the DC Metro area.

“Impact Hub DC is the only one in DC. We’re a collective of social innovators and entrepreneurs. On a daily basis, we focus on mission-driven organization, and this could be anything from mass incarceration, some clean water issues, sexual violence, globalization, or anything that has to do with making the world a better place.”

Unlike a tech incubator or accelerator Impact Hub does not take equity in members, but provides work space, business advice, workshops and networking opportunities for the local and global community of change agents.

Hundreds of participants meet here regularly with investors, to discuss opportunities and challenges. Having worked at other tech firms, Baker appreciates the built-in community at the Impact Hub and says it keeps her on her motivated.

“I’m not going to lie I do work 14 hours a day. If you love what you do, is not work. Every day I get to work with very excellent people who are fulfilling their dreams, and I get to see that on a daily basis.”

For all the work required to launch a business, building a network and fostering relationships in the tech community is equally important. Jan Baker says Impact Hub DC strengthens their resolve to achieve higher social standards and empowers others in their community to do the same.

“We work with people who share our values and have integrity. We wouldn’t invite somebody here who’s working on hate crime; we wouldn’t collaborate with organizations or anybody who is working on racist issues or anything that exclude people, and want to make sure that we have the right individuals in this space.”

Analyst say what started, in 2005, as a gathering place for impact pioneers in London has grown to a community of more than 15,000 professional members more than 100 physical spaces worldwide. But despite the success, the hub in DC is not without its challenges.

“Being a woman of color, I do go up against a lot of sometimes, when I’m looking for funding sources, you know there’s like the old boys club. A lot of times people fund the people who they know, and who look like them.  On a lot of occasions, I’m fighting to get funding for Impact Hub DC.”

From San Francisco to Singapore, Johannesburg to Madrid, and dozens of other cities across the globe, this growing community utilizes the power of entrepreneurship, collaboration, and network effects to generate and advance innovative approaches to global social challenges.


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