I started again from scratch
Her parents met in Congo in the sixties. Ms Sibyl Chalupa, head of the company DPXL in Kinshasa, has Greek, Belgian and Portuguese roots but is fourth generation Congolese.
“I left the country to study in Belgium, but I came back to Congo to work in my father’s printing company.
Among others, we had a contract with Kabila for his presidential campaign: we put up posters all over DRC.
After my father started to show an interest in politics himself, however, the problems began. The company went bankrupt overnight, and after that I decided to take a step back and launch something of my own.
DPXL is a studio specialised in urban signs and design. We have a strong experience as a communications agency and offer our services from concept to production. “Your ideas come to life.”
I was always interested in communications: my parents worked in that domain, it’s part of our DNA.
Ms Sibyl Chalupa, head of DPXL
It was a rocky start since we didn’t have any infrastructure or financial aid. And the political situation in DRC was unstable because of the elections. I was afraid to invest in a project in the long term.
At the time, I felt like Dora the Explorer, with my backpack and my laptop, determined to knock at every door. My son’s father, head of the company JAMBO JUS, told me about XSML, an impact investor. So I went to knock on their door as well. They told me to come back in a couple of years. And so I did.”
In the meantime, Ms Chalupa took on a lot of small jobs as an agency. That’s how she managed to obtain the funds to launch her studio.
The financing was meant for machines, development of other services, for example posters and sales of raw materials, essential in our domain.
Human and artistic resources
"There’s no more creativity in DRC than in Belgium, but it’s different. After having spent a couple of years in Belgium, I had to adapt to Congo again. I’m happy I could establish a network of creatives at DPXL. Of course, I have nothing bad to say about the quality in Europe. The infrastructure and logistics are a lot simpler there and people have higher degrees, which allows them to acquire skills we can’t have here.
Here, there’s a lot of potential for artists and academics, and a lot of young people in Europe want to come here. My goal is for my staff to have an international expertise.
I also make sure to only recruit dedicated people in order to create a solid team. My technicians have been with me since the start and can grow within the company, from assembler to supervisor.
It was essential to turn my employees into professionals from the very start. Now, we have finally arrived at the stage where we can introduce an industrial production. That was impossible before.
We also decided to create a non-profit organisation “fondation Honorable Chalupa” which will offer technical and artistic trainings in design and equipment servicing. A type of “FABLAB” to upgrade the designers in DRC. My father was the first producer of advertising signs and played a formative role in the profession in DRC. In the future, his actions will allow creating a federation of our speciality full of experienced technicians in the field.
DPXL SASU also opens up to the direct sales market for materials with sales stock agreements in the city’s hardware stores to open up those services and offer quality material to all technicians who will graduate from our school.”
“Now, we work for big companies like Total, Decathlon and a lot of banks such as Rawbank, Equity bank, etc. For those companies who believe in us, a good company structure is necessary. We also prefinance, because for big international companies' payment is only due 45 days after the delivery date.
On a technical level, we have created small, easy to change panels which allow us to communicate directly with the population. Our product is based on digitalisation and QR codes. They will be strategically placed, so they are visible by the largest number of people possible. It allows me to communicate in Katangese in Kolwezi and broadcast the same advertising at the same time in Lingala here. Everything is connected and I can target a certain audience. To do so, I work with a French company that worked for JCDecaux in the past. DPXL also works with state agencies to help them communicate, and we will become their production and communication agency.
DPXL SASU opens a branch in Katanga and will be settled in Kolwezi by March 2023, an untouched region of the country, it will help our studio to flourish."
Ms Sibyl Chalupa is the head of the company DPXL in Kinshasa.
DPXL has received financing from the African Rivers Fund, a private equity fund focussing on SMEs in Central Africa, in which BIO is an investor.
ARF is managed by XSML.
This is her story.
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