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Why Do We Exist

The women of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are among the poorest in the world.  They must rely on their own ingenuity and support of trusted friends to provide for their families in a land with very little infrastructure and few jobs.  Civil war, disease, famine and sexual violence are facts of daily life.

First Step Initiative gives the women of the DRC a helping hand. We are a nonprofit dedicated to empowering the world’s poorest women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We provide small grants to women’s collectives – called “merry-go-rounds” – to enable women in the city of Lubumbashi start or expand their small businesses so they can earn a living while providing valuable goods and services to their communities.

Our History

Chingwell Mutombu began sending small amounts of money home to the DRC in 2004 to help women in the area where she grew up create ways to support their families. From that small effort, First Step Initiative was born. Over the past decade, we have helped nearly 1,000 women rise from poverty – making better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

Learn more…