The core of CLI’s model is a focus on ethical, selfless local leadership. By instilling in talented youth a grounding in servant leadership and equipping them with tangible changemaking and entrepreneurial skills, CLI’s programming comprehensively addresses the challenges that make development in the DR Congo difficult.
Every young leader who is part of CLI's program immediately makes positive change in their community via small businesses and entrepreneurial social projects. In addition to the long-term learning and growth that CLI engenders, the change we create in DR Congo is instant. This ripple effect will ultimately spread to develop a strong and prosperous nation.
CLI believes that by equipping quality local organizations to train talented young leaders and providing them with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to generate progress in their communities, large scale social and economic change in DR Congo is inevitable.
How We Work
We empower a generation of Congolese youth who will be the sources of their country’s best solutions to its most pressing issues.
Benefitting hundreds of Congolese youth each year, CLI's nine-month program begins with a combination of leadership and entrepreneurship training using an industry-leading curriculum that covers topics like community development, positive leadership practices and habits, human rights, women's leadership, finance, strategic business planning, and more.
After successfully completing the theory-based portion of their training, our young leaders are given the opportunity to put their new skills into practice in the form of a Peace & Prosperity project. Funded by CLI, youth first work together as a team to launch large-scale community interventions. Then, they break into small groups, each of which receive a zero-interest micro-loan. These projects are entirely envisioned and implemented by our young leaders to meet their community needs.
Projects ideas include small business start-ups, socially-focused community service projects and more. The positive impact that they produce can take the form of a job, a service, health benefits, educational advantages, peace among enemies, or justice. For many of our young leaders, the businesses that they start enable them to meet their families’ financial responsibilities.
Because our young leaders are encouraged to continue their projects past their graduation from the program, there are now hundreds of CLI-funded businesses and community service initiatives sparking economic and social change across the Congo.
In the classroom, the Leadership Institute has been intentionally designed to maximize opportunities for our youth to experience profound personal and professional growth. By capping the cohort size of each program site at just 30 youth—including at least 15 girls— we ensure that the training our young leaders receive in our program stands in stark contrast to typical educational experiences in DR Congo, where class sizes often reach over 100 people.
We also work hard to make sure that our training curriculum is tailored not just to the Congo’s cultural context, but also to the unique needs and interests of the particular region of each program site by encouraging CLI’s two Country Directors and the volunteer facilitators at each program site to adapt the lessons as they see fit.
With at least two site facilitators at each site, including at least one woman, our program is able to offer individualized support and mentorship to every youth. The program is both world-class and Congolese.