DRC’s business scene: a miner, a startupper and a central banker
Bénédicte Kuvuna: Launching a tropical surprise
Kinshasa does not have the same density of startups as, say, Lagos or Nairobi, but local entrepreneurs are trying their hands at new ventures. Winner of the Anzisha Prize for young African entrepreneurs at only 20, Bénédicte Kuvuna launched Surprise Tropicale in 2013. Her e-commerce business delivers fresh Congolese fruit, vegetables and juices all over Kinshasa. She works with local producers and is looking to form partnerships with farmers in eastern DRC. Kuvuna helps run a leadership foundation and is curator of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers hub in Kinshasa.
Louis Watum: Knight in copper armour in a mining romance
South Africa’s Ivanhoe Mining is developing its huge Kamoa copper and cobalt mine, and Congolese mining executive Louis Watum is leading the firm’s DRC team. The Université de Lubumbashi-trained chemical engineer is a bridge between the Central African giant and the continent’s most advanced economy, both of which have large natural resource sectors. Watum has worked for a series of big miners with South African links, from Anglo American to Randgold. Watum has worked with the government on its planned changes to the mining code and said that Kinshasa needs to try harder on building infrastructure and fighting corruption and inertia in the bureaucracy.
Kalaa Mpinga:Cash in the dirt
In September, the mining boss and investor made his first big investment since falling out in 2015 with Chinese investors at Mwana Africa, a mining company that he had founded. Mpinga and US-based private equity fund Kuramo Capital Management put $17.5m into the DRC’s Feronia, an agribusiness firm with oil palm plantations. Mpinga says he is looking for other investments in mining, agribusiness and infrastructure.
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine