Our Mission

Congo Leadership Initiative is a 501(c)3 organization developing the next generation of leaders to be catalysts for peace and prosperity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We know that DR Congo’s bright future will come from the innovations, talents, and dedication of the Congolese people themselves. This is why we empower the Congo’s young people to harness their influence and abilities to drive economic and social change across the country. Through our programs, we develop a network of young men and women who become extraordinary and selfless leaders for DR Congo.

Meet our team.


What We Do

Our flagship Leadership Institute — a nine-month program that uses a combination of theory and practice-based training — equips Congolese youth with a range of skills related to leadership and entrepreneurship. In the final months of the program, each youth receives funding from CLI to make positive change in their communities.

Young leaders work in teams to launch major projects. They receive zero-interest micro-loans for a small business or community service project where they put their newfound skills and values into practice.

Why the Congo

DR Congo has severe need and tremendous potential. The DRC is often listed at the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index due to a history of poor leadership, violent conflict, human rights abuses, and natural disasters.

In fact, if you look at just about any indicator — poverty levels, child mortality, literacy rates, and life expectancy — you’ll see that the Congo has its challenges. But what these indicators won’t tell you is that there’s more to this country than statistics and crises.

The Congolese people are bright, ambitious, creative, proud, and brimming with hope for the future of their country. We work in DR Congo because we want to see it become what the Congolese people dream it can become.


Our Timeline

8 Years of progress in the Congo

CLI was founded in 2010 after several trips to the Congo by our founder, Nate Houghton.

Though his initial visits were to explore a new part of the world, interactions with inspiring youth in Kinshasa convinced Nate that the Congo was filled with talented young people ready to make real change. CLI began with a single, week-long workshop for 8 girls and 8 boys in Kinshasa. We’ve grown significantly since then:



Ethical leadership training

16 young leaders

2 peace projects


Entrepreneurship content


Community projects & small group micro-loans


2,000+ young leaders

350+ projects and businesses


Where We Want to Go

Lasting development begins with local leadership

Congo Leadership Initiative provides training for Congolese youth as we prove a new model of international development.

The youth we work with become ongoing sources of radical social change and economic development in their communities.

We have a bold plan for partnering with local organizations to increase the number of training sites and youth involved in our programs throughout DR Congo. We have seen the positive ripple effect of CLI’s action projects on the lives of the youth leaders, their families, and communities. We are also building a dynamic community of alumni who are sparking change in the Congo and who are serving as mentors for our current young leaders.