Tell me everything
“I have lived in Belgium for a long time, but keep in touch with what is going on in Congo. And unfortunately, I all too often hear stories of people struggling to survive. An unexpected event such as illness or death pushes them even deeper into poverty. So I wanted to know more about microfinance, because I believe it can improve the lives of the Congolese.
In the European Master Programme of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, I hoped to find out everything there is to know about microfinance. How does it work? What are the possibilities, the obstacles, the challenges, and so forth? And of course I wanted to find out what is happening in the field of microfinancing in Congo.
BRS and Congo
Congo was mentioned in the very first class. With figures that shocked me: no less than 73% of the population lives below the poverty line. That’s an awful lot. I wanted to do something for Congo right away. That is why I opted for a practice-oriented internship and a thesis topic linked to my country of birth. I ended up at BRS because Tom Geladé, one of the BRS lecturers, introduced the Congolese partner organisation CGAT.
CGAT stands for Centre des Gestion des Risques et d’Accompagnement Techniques des Mutuelles de Santé. Through the establishment and support of health insurance funds, this local organisation tries to give poor Congolese people access to healthcare. Because many of them cannot afford the most essential medical care. As a result, they often die unnecessarily early. And that has consequences for the whole family, including for the future of the children.
Health insurance funds
In order to increase the positive impact of CGAT and the mutual health insurance funds, I conducted a satisfaction survey in cooperation with this Congolese organisation, both among the members of the mutual health insurance funds and among the health institutions. Most members appear to be very satisfied with their health insurance. Their responses confirm that they play an important role in making healthcare accessible. Doctors and health centres are also satisfied with the cooperation. And the complaints that were registered - including the late reimbursement of hospital bills - are gratefully used by CGAT to improve its operation.
The commitment and dedication of the CGAT staff in this research were amazing. As I was unable to travel to Congo because of COVID, they personally surveyed no fewer than 345 members of four different health insurance funds and representatives of 50 health centres. An incredibly big job for which I am very grateful to them. I would also like to thank BRS for the financial support and their professional support!
The world I dream of
With my master’s degree in Microfinance, I now want to do my part. To create the world I dream of: a world with less poverty, where everyone has access to health care and people should not be afraid of the future. That is why I want to launch a microfinance project in Congo, encourage women to apply for credit and introduce families to the operation of health insurance funds. The life of the Congolese must become more than a struggle to survive. I want them to blossom and finally be able to enjoy life.”