EoC in Africa, an Economic Response for the Community

 The culture of the Economy of Communion, presented in 2011, is in full harmony with the spirit of Harambee, the life force of being together. And so now the first companies are created.

by Betty Njagi*

from "Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova" n.39 - editorial insert in Città Nuova n.13/14 - 2014 - July 2014

N39 pag 05 Africa Betty Njagi autore ridAccording to the World Bank, with a growth of more than 6 percent per year, Sub-Saharan African countries are among those with greater economic development and attracting more and more foreign investment; however, poverty and inequality remain unacceptably high in them.

The very low level of salaries granted to workers and the high prices of the products of monopolistic situations create a wild type of market economy that is exploiting the poor, who in turn become poorer and poorer.

It is an economic system that threatens to overwhelm the cultures of the African countries and disperse their two great values: community and communion. Africans urgently need to find a model of economic development and business culture that would safeguard these two great values.

The Economy of Communion which is based on building relationships and proposes a model of development that encourages the sharing of resources and profit for the benefit of all, would seem to be just the right answer in this context. In Kenya, the life force of being together and being united - the basis for the propensity to pool N39 pag 05 Africa Impresa Wolfran 02 ridscarce resources for the benefit of all - is called Harambee: when a family is too poor to pay school fees or medical expenses, members of the community organize a Harambeee and all contribute as much as they can. The EoC can be inserted here in full harmony, as it is an economy based on gospel values "chosen" freely by the entrepreneurs, in consonance with the strong spirit of brotherhood among Africans. Therefore, applying the same principles on the workings of the economy does not sound "weird" at all for those with a strong sense of the sacred; and it also increases the value of religious belief.

The Economy of Communion made its public appearance in Africa in 2011 to over one hundred entrepreneurs, researchers and students in a conference at the Catholic University N39 pag 05 Africa Impresa Wolfran 03 ridof East Africa, and in later years there were two university courses offering a deeper understanding of it.

After the course of 2011, in March 2012 Wolfram decided to start his own business making bricks in Kakamega in western Kenya. Despite the challenge posed by the rains, by December of the same year the company had already reached the production of more than ten thousand bricks. Wolfram's enterprise was also a response to the challenge posed by a teacher who would not believe that an EoC enterprise may be economically successful. Actually, we are sure that the EoC will convince many people who are short of financial means in Africa to experience a new brotherhood in which everyone gives and receives, spreading a new perspective and a new meaning in people's lives.

*Betty Njagi is a professor at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi.

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