“Everyone would like to see the Economy of Communion project expand in Africa, out of love for Africa, in order to understand its cultures and practice reciprocity and communion,” said Luigino Bruni, international coordinator of the EoC project, as he looked ahead to the upcoming international gathering in May. That gathering will take place in Kenya, Nairobi, with international representatives from the EoC who will share ideas, innovations and production, but also work, microcredit, inequality and poverty. The African businesses which, from this year, have begun to share their profits with the poor of the world have grown to ten businesses, while twelve businesses are heading in that direction. This is all thanks to a growing spreading of a culture of economy of communion in Africa.
This was demonstrated with the recent international conference (February 9-13), which was hosted by Cameroon University, the Catholic University of Buea (CUIB) at the request of the university’s Rector, Fr.. George Kkeze, and by the Bishop, Emmanuel Bushu.
Speakers included Benedetto Gui, currently a professor at Sophia University Institute (Florence, Italy) and Brice Kemguem, National Director for Central Africa in the international ngo named AHA (African Humanitarian Agency). They were accompanied by Steve William Azeumo, from the EoC Commission of the Central African area, Winnifred Nwafor, from the EoC Commission of Fontem, Cameroon, Isabel Awungnjia Atem and Mabih Nji, both graduates of the Sophia University Institute in the role of local facilitators at CUIB.
The topics included in the programme have ranged from contemporary economic issues that are dear to the Social Doctrine of the Church and that we find in the values and principles of the EoC, to the great economic and social problems of our time and the shortage of drinking water, epidemics and armed conflicts with weapons of mass destruction.
Thanks to the video conference connection, it was possible to get to know experiences from around the world. A connection made with the Sophia University Institute facilitated an exchange between the students of the two institutions. After that, two EoC entrepreneurs shared their experiences: Alberto Ferrucci, managing director of a company that produces software for refineries emphasized various aspects of an economy of sharing, a new proposal to solve the economic problems of our age. Teresa Ganzon (manager of the Philippine Rural Bank Bangko Kabayan) reminded participants of the principles of good corporate management that led her to resume her studies in adulthood in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to manage the bank, helping the increase of activity of rural microfinance (micro-credit to farmers and small traders) in the area.
Some Cameroonian experiences were also shared, such as that of chief Fobella Morfaw and his wife, who founded a school in the town of Dschang in 2003 which today consists of a kindergarten, primary and secondary schools; or that of the Civil Engineering Studio at BSE (Bridge Structure Engineering Consulting) that thanks to the great experience of a ‘senior’ partner has now got to the point of getting by and managing well in the midst of a very fierce competition. The studio benefited from the financial and moral support of the Gimou couple; in the days immediately preceding the school Mrs. Marie Madeleine Gimou left this earth and this has deeply moved the participants of the conference. Her husband M. Victor Gimou who has been an engineer for over 23 years continues to support the young studio and to offer access to his library collected throughout his more than 30 years of work.
An important part of the program was composed of the workshops in the afternoon, aimed to discuss cases of companies and to prepare projects of micro-enterprises: these had a high attendance and caused amazement because of the quality of the papers presented in the plenary sessions; the best EoC business plan was awarded in the concluding session.
If we want to make a small balance: we were treated to a very fruitful week, thanks to the preparatory work done by the University and the very positive attitude of the young people who volunteered to participate, also encouraged by a recognition of university credits in exchange. There was a very sympathetic register and a cheerful atmosphere throughout the conference: the intervals were often filled with fun activities, a little dance or music. The evening of celebration was simply breathtaking, with songs and dances organized by the young people, with that “little extra atmosphere” that was created by the light of the phones, because there was a sudden blackout.
Participants had very positive impressions: many of them admitted that, in addition to proposing a style of enterprise management, the EoC is also a “proposal of life” that you can put into practice immediately, and many declared they wanted to follow it. In short: a lot of positive vibes and desire to do and work for a better world.
Video of the Conference: