Jean Djembo is busy. Waking up each morning at 4 a.m., he receives the first delivery of freshly baked bread to his two stores located on the campus of the main university in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The aroma welcomes students as they buy a quick breakfast of baguette with peanut butter before their 7 a.m. classes. Located near student housing, Jean serves clients until late in the evening.
It’s clear that the crutches Jean uses to walk don’t slow him down.
Once a student at the same university, Jean first came to Brazzaville to study accounting. He began leading Bible studies, mentored younger students, and also joined a group advocating for better employment opportunities for people affected by disability. “Others who live with disabilities are discriminated against,” he says. “I have not been. … So I use the means I have to intervene on their behalf.”
A Push in the Right Direction
Jean knows the importance of motivation and encouragement in the face of difficulty. While still a student, both his parents passed away. “My father told me I had to succeed in school. My mother told me I had to go into business. I promised them that I would succeed in both,” remembers Jean. True to his word, after seven years, he finished his studies, having already started a few small businesses. But capital was difficult to access, and his businesses always stayed small. In 2010, a friend told him about HOPE Congo, and with his brother’s persistent encouragement, he took out his first loan.
Today, Jean owns two bustling food stores and a taxi, employs three people, and hopes to soon purchase a bus. Having greater access to capital and business trainings through HOPE Congo, Jean’s entrepreneurial ideas have found new inspiration. Now he says, “With my businesses, I can dream.”
As his businesses flourish, Jean not only has the means to support his brother’s education and other family members’ needs, he is also a resilient example of hard work and discipleship in his community. “We need to not only grow financially, but spiritually also,” he says. Still mentoring students, he encourages them in their studies and actively recruits other entrepreneurs to join HOPE Congo.
HOPE empowers entrepreneurs like Jean with discipleship, training, a safe place to save, and small loans that unlock their potential to provide for their families and serve their communities.
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