Inveneo DR Congo Archives

Opening a New World of Educational Content for ICT Students

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on August 21, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

University life is an exciting time for students around the world. As undergraduates work hard in their studies and set their hopes for the future, the ICT field continues to expand in countless ways. Unfortunately, ICT students around the world don’t have equal access to the same resources. For example, while students in the United States enjoy computer labs and state-of-the-art equipment, students in the DR Congo lack computers and current computer science coding material, making them ill-equipped to market themselves on a global scale.


An IT classroom with students in the DR Congo. The IT students currently don’t have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult. Photo Credit: Jill Costello – Inveneo

What’s the result? University students in the DR Congo who graduate with a college degree in ICT who rarely worked on computers. But UMCom and Inveneo are working together to change that.

Led by UMCom’s Director of ICT4D Church Initiatives, Rev. Neelley Hicks has asked Inveneo to setup a server installed and loaded with educational content that students in developing countries can access when they don’t have reliable Internet connectivity.

As a first step this past summer, Inveneo’s tech-savvy intern Corbin Halliwill scoured the Internet to find French university-level content that students in the DR Congo could eventually use offline. Just like World Possible’s RACHEL server and the eGranary Digital Library, Inveneo plans to create a server that is filled with diagrams, slides, documents, and videos that students can reach when offline. (Additionally, from time to time, they may still need a WiFi connection to connect to the server for updates, etc.)

Corbin has found a vast amount of educational material that he feels is reliable and relatable to his own courses he took at UC Berkeley in California. He has worked hard to organize the content by classes, categories, and tags, all to help students in the DR Congo grab what they need efficiently and easily. Going forward, Inveneo’s talented intern Eric Zan will take over the project, continue to download the content, and place it all on a Synology diskstation. UMCom will eventually take the Synology diskstation and will use it in computer labs they are building in the DR Congo.

Inveneo’s long term goals with this project are to give users the ability to select which content they want. In addition, the team is hoping to eventually allow people to contribute or update content as it becomes available. The project will be open sourced so other professors, students, and universities may utilize it in the future. Inveneo and UMCom have enjoyed the combined efforts made in this project, and they are both very excited about how this could positively impact students around the world for years to come!

ICT Brings Students and Communities Together in the DR Congo

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on June 19, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is one of Africa’s most conflict-ridden and war-torn countries. Covering a vast expanse of over 900,000 square miles (the same as two-thirds of the European Union), the country holds a rich store of minerals. But, tragically, this abundance of resources fuels fire for hostile war. Civil war, genocide, and mass rape have all contributed to the brutality many have seen during the DR Congo’s history.

A happy computer user in the DR Congo.

A happy computer user in the DR Congo.

In addition, corruption is extremely common and, according to the United States Institute of Peace, the DR Congo ranks at the bottom for every corruption index. Although its people are incredibly resilient, the country continues to suffer from poor infrastructure and weak governmental organizations.

Inveneo’s Manager of Special Projects, Jill Costello, traveled last month to DR Congo knowing it would be a challenge. But she arrived with her sleeves rolled up and ready to get to work.

A class at KMU. The IT students currently don't have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult.

A class at KMU. The IT students currently don’t have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult.

Inveneo teamed up with United Methodist Communications (UMCom) and Steve Bryant from the General Board of Discipleship to begin building a power and financially sustainable Computer Center serving three institutions of higher learning in Kamina. Currently, Kamina Methodist University (KMU) is unable to offer students in its ICT program a functioning computer lab, a loss which results in the inability to do hands-on work to support their theoretical learnings. Once completed, however, the Computer Center will be used by KMU students, the Health Sciences College, the Teachers College, and local community members as a place to gather knowledge and build skills. It will serve 1,000 people!

On behalf of Inveneo, Jill travelled to Kamina to discuss the technical nature of the ICT project with academic and local community members. Along with UMCom and Steve Bryant, she hosted presentations and meetings for IT and general faculty at KMU and interested community members in order to listen to and truly understand their needs. The team also worked to identify an ideal location for the Center and to begin to determine suitable computing equipment for challenging environments such as these.

But there is still work to be done. In order for the Computer Center to come to fruition, the Kamina community must meet and expand upon the business plan in development. The Center will bring in funds to cover staff salaries, provide for additional computing purchases, and replace equipment when needed.

Inveneo's Jill Costello (left) meets with community members to discuss details on an United Methodist Communications project for DRCongo.

Inveneo’s Jill Costello (left) meets with community members to discuss details on an United Methodist Communications project for DRCongo.

The Inveneo team will continue to help guide and contribute to this building process. Inveneo is currently recommending what equipment is needed and appropriate for the new Center (both solar and computing equipment). In addition, it is researching French-based University-level IT content that will eventually be used offline by KMU. Relevant content should be available for use by late 2014. Communication and development on both sides of the Atlantic will continue to push the project forward.

Our team welcomed the opportunity to partner with UMCom, Steve Bryant, university-level and local community leaders in Kamina on this meaningful project in the DR Congo. We look forward to continue bringing online connections and educational resources to the many students and community members in Kamina!

Learn how you can partner with Inveneo in this project by visiting our Donate page.

Accelerating Microfinance Impact with ICT

  1. Posted by Inveneo on March 17, 2010 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects

Whether the goal is to realize microfinance’s full potential or to avoid potential pitfalls, for most microfinance institutions (MFIs), improving the way they use information and communication technologies (ICTs) is crucial.

Today, even the best-managed MFIs working in environments with relatively good infrastructure often struggle to implement management information systems that are scalable and sustainable. The challenge is even greater in the resource-limited communities where many MFIs find their natural constituents. As Allen Hammond et al have noted in The Next 4 Billion:

“there is still a serious shortage of infrastructure on the ground to provide financial services to the [bottom of the pyramid].”

Fortunately, while building strong institutions can take decades, implementing sustainable ICTs doesn’t have to. Affordable and sustainable power, hardware, software and connectivity systems already exist, they are just not widely available, mostly due to lack of local knowledge and limited support capacity.

Enterprising Solutions Global Consulting recently asked Inveneo to help identify and solve the ICT challenges facing MFIs in two post-conflict countries – Sierra Leone and DR Congo – where they work to build the sector’s capacity. We began with assessments of the current use of ICTs among select client MFIs in each country.

Inveneo’s studies were followed by pilot projects designed to test whether more sustainable hardware, software, networking and power solutions can augment MFI performance and capacity. Our goals were to lower overall operating costs, improve and accelerate information flow and increase overall efficiency and growth.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

WiFi installation in DRC

Working with our ICIP partners in DRC (NEKOTEK) and Rwanda (Rock Global Consulting and Great Lakes Energy), Inveneo designed and deployed ICT and power solutions to 9 HQ and branch locations; 4 in Kinshasa (Bomoko) and 5 in Bukavu (Mecrebu).

We installed new, power-efficient desktops, a server, low power printer and CF lighting at each branch, powered by generator and grid-fed battery backup systems and power stabilization systems. In addition, we deployed a private, broadband wireless network in Bukavu to allow access to a central server running Loan Performer and inter-branch VoIP calling.

Sierra Leone

Whereas pilot MFIs in DRC were focused in urban settings, in Sierra Leone – HOPE and Association for Rural Development (ARD) – have HQ offices in the capital city, Freetown, and branch offices in Makeni, some 4 hours “up country.”

In Makeni, Inveneo installed low-power servers and workstations running Windows XP (protected with Deep Freeze) and Loan Performer. In addition, HOPE’s branch was entirely off-grid so Inveneo worked with Energy for Opportunity, our local power partner, to deploy a full solar array and power backup system.


To help create local capacity to support these pilot projects, Inveneo combined both classroom and hands-on training to coincide with pilot deployments. In total, we trained 10 new Certified ICT Partners to provide support as needed for future deployments, with Inveneo providing backstop technical support as needed.

In both countries, Inveneo also included IT administrators from the MFIs themselves in relevant parts of the training, thereby creating capable “Tier 1” support and establishing a strong link between system users and capable outside support for more challenging problems.


Download full report (PDF)

Project Results

Initial indications are that reliable power, computing and connectivity systems can significantly benefit MFI performance. In DRC, for the first time, loan officers have reliable access to Loan Performer, their Windows-based accounts package system. We’ve also heard that Bomoko’s branch offices in Kinshasa can now access their Loan Performer system through power outages lasting as long as 2-3 days without having to try to start their aging generator.

For the full details, read our detailed project report:
Accelerating Microfinance Impact with ICT (PDF)

Working collaboratively with organizations like ESGC, Inveneo hopes to develop a better understanding of the real impact of specific ICT interventions for MFIs. We believe that combining efforts at institution/capacity building with appropriate and tested ICT solutions is the best way to achieve the promise – and avoid the peril – of the rapid expansion of microfinance services in the developing world.