A year in review

Falling Whistles 2015 — A Year in Review

If you are reading this, it is likely that you’ve been part of our community over the years. This post was written for you. The short summary is that in 2015 we moved our headquarters to Sweden, started working with a new team full of fresh faces, focused on selling whistles and making investments in Congolese visionaries.

 

For the world 2015 has been a dramatic year. A year where we almost daily in the news could read reports about wars and refugees, but also statements from politicians who wanted to close borders and the rhetoric of “we and them” has been frequently used. Haven’t we heard this before? Shouldn’t we have learned by know?

If we look at the history it is clear to us that peace, prosperity and human rights are not created by borders. This challenge we must meet with openness and understanding. Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering and we must not close the door. The world is changed by those who speak up! Falling Whistles have spoken up for peace since 2007 and in the last years our work has improved, 2015 was no exception. Below you will be able to read parts of what has been happening within Falling Whistles during 2015. We decided to share this as on open letter so that you could easily comment, question and respond.

 

North Kivu

North Kivu

One of our core values is that we do not hold the solutions, the solution comes from within, from the people who know the everyday life. In the end of 2014 we meet up with our long term partner Amani, Congolese journalist Patrick and British businessman Mike in Bukavu.

There was an idea of a Congolese driven business incubator. A place where entrepreneurs can come together, share experience and mentor others toward success. This idea has grown during this past year and Ensemble Pour la Difference was born. With the support from Mike and Falling Whistles Ensemble was able to start investing financial resources in people with ideas, along with the guidance from experienced entrepreneurs these ideas have turned into successful businesses.Our theory is that people do not want violence or war, but just ending the violence is not enough to see peace. In order for there to be peace there has to be an alternative. By supporting the civil society we are part of a process of building that alternative, an alternative to war. Ensemble has now invested in 32 ideas and out of those 30 amazing ones has been able to turn into a profitable, sustainable business. So why is this important to create peace?

Coffee co-operative CPNCK in Idjwi

Coffee co-operative CPNCK in Idjwi

One new business will not create the alternative that we need in order to see peace, but it dramatically lifts the life of the people in the business who now have the money to support their families, money to be able to send another child to school. It lifts the life for the people in the community because they now have access to services that was not available for them before. A Pharmacy in Mumosho gives people access to medicine in an area that before was all dried up since the non-profit program that supplied medicine in the region lost it’s funding and just over night, all medicine cabinets ran dry.

When a project is profitable it will start to re-pay the initial investment allowing us to use the funds again and again. Repeated enough times we will see a great change in one community, in peoples lives. Each successful project also shows what is possible. Like in Luvungi. Ensemble helped to build a bakery, and the bakery was a huge success, no matter how much bread they made everything sold out. This success inspired two new entrepreneurs to open up Bakeries in Luvungi and all of a sudden there was a sharp competition, in a place where before food was hard to find. 

Falling Whistles has, during the year, provided funds to three of these projects. (Click on the names to read more on our website.)

Project: Internet 

Project: Coffee 

Project: Fabric

 

Ensemble has also been able to start up partnerships with new companies and organizations that will be able to support the work and help the organization reach a new level. Supporting a Congolese initiative to re-build the community is the most important thing we could imagine. Sustainable peace cannot be within reach if people do not have freedom and power over their own lives. This can only be shaped by re-building communities were people are free and share a feeling of togetherness. As you and me know this can only happen if we speak up and work together.

This is where we will focus all of our efforts.

During 2016 we will continue to work even closer with Ensemble, provide support in communication, new partnership and growth of the organization. And of course, what ever funds we are able to raise will be channeled to Ensemble for investment in new ideas.

For Ensemble, we are looking for companies to partner with, companies what want to work with us to design business that will be a part of re-building this community. We are also looking for organizations that share the same vision as us but lacks the people to implement projects with this sustainable business approach. Any individual that want to contribute to the work of Ensemble can donate directly to Falling Whistles and we will channel all donations directly towards the next investment. 

If we want a sustainable society, women need to be empowered. That's why our partner ABFEK is running a program to give vocational skills to women. Mumusho, South Kivu

If we want a sustainable society, women need to be empowered. That's why our partner ABFEK is running a program to give vocational skills to women. Mumusho, South Kivu

Looking Forward to 2016

The past year has gone by so fast. We are thankful for all that has transpired, and also see that there are big challenges ahead in 2016. We can see that the political climate is changing. All over the world. We know the consequences of war, and how important it is to rebuild societies. If we don’t – what is left after war? Destroyed communities and unemployment. We can see that people are in need of retaking power of their own lives. We argue that one important part of that is employment and entrepreneurship. We all know by now, what the type of “us-and-them” rhetoric that has grown stronger the past year, did nearly a decade ago in Germany. Or 20 years ago in Rwanda. Or up until this day, in DRC. We are all born into this world together, and we have to work together towards peace.

Peace can only be achieved if we work together as a coalition. During 2016 we will continue our work towards a sustainable society in eastern DRC. Together, we must gather in defiance.

Thanks for a great 2015. And happy New Year.