A unique, sustainable approach to grassroots development.

The Congolese already have the ideas and resources they need to thrive. Mavuno trains them to unleash that power and create their own vibrant future. We see abundance and opportunity in one of the most difficult places on earth.

Our process is designed to place local interests and ingenuity at the center of a community’s development. We co-create businesses and strengthen regional value chains.

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What is extreme poverty? Can it actually end?

We like to say it’s a lack of opportunity to access basic human rights. It is the threshold beyond which people cannot make substantive choices about their own lives; it’s a complete inability to determine your future.

Extreme poverty can end. We’re not interested in alleviating this problem; we’re out to solve it.

This is how we do it.

Reach Out

We reach out to some of the most poor, fragmented, war-torn communities in the world. Our target communities are at the bottom of all major poverty indices. Households live well below the internationally accepted thresholds for extreme poverty (whether we use the monetary definition of $1.90 per day from the World Bank, or more holistic definitions).


We believe in the capacity of the poor to guide and implement their own development. So what’s the first thing we do? We listen.

For any new partner community, roughly two months are set aside for the purpose of listening, relationship-building, and collaboration.  During this period, a baseline survey is conducted to assess the current state of the community prior to Mavuno’s interventions.  Mavuno uses its questionnaire to gather data on primary indicators, conducts a statistical and qualitative analysis, and co-creates a report with the community to inform all follow-on activities.

A series of community workshops are held to gather the ideas of local community members, and to identify local leaders and leadership talent.  Relationships are also built informally through sharing meals, playing sports, etc. By the end of this phase, Mavuno’s field staff have been welcomed as part of the community, and an initial foundation of trust has been established.

We respect and follow local leadership, and continually listen to our community partners throughout the lifecycle of our programming. This affirms their dignity and value, and it’s the reason Mavuno works.


The communities we work with often exhibit little social cohesion. They are fragmented, and made up of people displaced or affected by war.

We train these communities to organize into locally-led “Grassroots Organizations,” or GOs.

  • They elect and appoint their own leaders – a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and more.
  • They create their own structure, usually dividing into subgroups of about 3-5 households each. These subgroups provide a mechanism for accountability, foster teamwork for greater productivity, and often double as savings groups.
  • They write their own rules and establish bylaws. The GO registers with the government as its own legal entity, which gives it a seat at the table during regional meetings.
  • The GOs hold meetings an average of three times per week, and once per week with the Mavuno staff. GO leadership teams from neighboring communities often meet with one another as well.


Once these structures are in place, we pour everything we have into these community leaders until they no longer need Mavuno. We advise them, train them, and equip them with resources. They go through Mavuno’s leadership development curriculum, which covers transformational leadership theory, financial literacy, agribusiness, economics, ethics, and more. Leadership development underpins all of Mavuno’s other efforts.


Identify Opportunities

Mavuno works with the newly formed GO to identify community assets. We conduct an “asset mapping” drill where they identify all of their local resources (fertile land, supplies, skills). Our goal is to optimize the assets a community already has to generate wealth.

We then conduct training on financial literacy and market research. Community members survey local and regional markets to identify demand, and they work with the Mavuno team to identify the best opportunities.


To make these business ideas a reality, community members require access to capital. Mavuno works with the extreme poor, a population not often reached by the vast majority of microfinance institutions.

Mavuno provides flexible financing based upon the needs of the venture, ranging from in-kind microloans to blended investments for small to medium enterprises.


We provide access to quality agricultural inputs and equipment, including seeds, fertilizer, and machinery. Quality inputs have a significant effect on farming yields, allowing the rural poor to “get ahead” and rise out of extreme poverty.


Our team of expert Congolese agronomists, livestock supervisors, veterinarians, and business advisors provide ongoing training on best practices. These are not one-time trainings. Our team is in relationship with communities, walking with them day in and day out for years. This significantly increases productivity, and the ability of families to achieve long-term success independent of our team.

Connection to Markets

Finally, we connect products to markets at competitive prices. Whether it’s roadside vegetable markets or international markets, Mavuno creates market access for our talented friends. This bolsters family income levels in dramatic ways and puts them on a sustainable pathway out of poverty.


“We could tell Mavuno was different because they actually listened to us.”

-Paluku, village leader, Bunzi, DRC

Mavuno’s combination of human and economic development is our formula to end extreme poverty. For us, successful economic outcomes are the manifestation of great relationships and social cohesion.

Increasing incomes alone does not necessarily correlate to improvements in multidimensional poverty. That’s why our Grassroots Organization structures and community development efforts are so important. They result in families investing their new incomes into shelter improvements, healthcare, and education. To ensure that we’re actually achieving this impact, we use the Multidimensional Poverty Index from Oxford as our primary metric of success.

Extreme poverty in eastern Congo and other fragile states can actually end. This is a measurable outcome that we can reasonably achieve. What we are doing is working.

Join us, and together we’ll change the world.



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