Raphael Mambo, today a successful automobile industry entrepreneur, grew up in the town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As Raphael grew up, the town of Goma became engulfed in violence during the first and second Congolese civil wars. Despite the challenging environment that surrounded him, Mambo founded his own automobile business, Mambo Motors, which services cars.
Working in the car service industry, Raphael recalls becoming concerned by “the scarcity of female operators in [the] sector” despite “the range of opportunities available.” Raphael later participated in the YALI Network Africa4Her campaign in 2016 and soon after became a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow. Interacting with these resources about the need to advance the inclusion of women, Raphael felt a personal responsibility to make a difference.
In following through with his pledge, Raphael sought to “organize workshops and training programs to train women and young girls on specific skills for their empowerment for a better living.” This idea was crystallized when Raphael became the project lead for the Msika Ji Tumikiye project with a group of other exchange program alumni through the U.S. Department of State’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The project aims to train 180 young girls and women from 18 districts in Goma in automotive mechanic skills, entrepreneurship and financial education. As project lead, Raphael both leads training sessions and works on the program’s budgeting, reporting and evaluation procedures.
Raphael’s goal with this project is to “help [the women] of my town to become self-sufficient and competitive on the professional ground.” In doing so, he aims for a future where women can run automobile shops, or any other business.
Raphael sees his efforts to empower women in business as the first step toward broader gender equality at all levels of society. As Raphael puts it, “I would like to see more women get involved in business and be at the decision table in all sectors in my country because it’s one of the key components in this world for influencing everything, including politics.”
Beyond training more women and girls to be successful business leaders, Raphael hopes to lobby his country’s political and business leaders to change its culture around women’s empowerment. “The government, political leaders and business owners must be not only respectful of women and young girls’ protection laws, but true role models for their empowerment,” he said.
Raphael invites YALI Network members to follow him on Twitter to learn more about the Msika Ji Tumikiye project.