By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Paul Hodji shares, ‘I was born in an area where people do not value education but I managed to educate myself to an average level.’ Nevertheless, Paul was able to use his natural curiosity to continue learning as much as he could on his own. This eventually led to him using everything he’d learned about marketing to teach in a technical school.
Like many other Zidisha entrepreneurs, he jumped into entrepreneurship out of a desire to create an additional stream of income for himself and his family. He says, ‘Having realized the need to create additional income, I decided to go into distribution of health products. With the proceeds, I am able to pay children’s school fees as well as feed my family.’
In his business, Paul is a distributor for health products. This means that he is able to buy health products such as, vitamins, garlic, calcium, spirulina, etc. at wholesale costs. Then, he is able to distribute these products directly to his customers. He’s also found that he’s been able to keep his costs at a minimum. Aside from the cost of inventory, transportation, and basic bills, he has been able to streamline and keep his costs low.
Through his business, Paul is able to maintain a profit of about 40% and uses his earnings to take care of his family needs. With the remainder he is also able to continually re-invest into his business. Paul explains that, ‘The demand for health products is high and my customers respond favorably with repeat orders.’
Paul is now a seasoned member of the Zidisha community, as he received his first loan back in July 2015, raising $100. With this first loan he was in a great position to increase his inventory of, ‘ginseng, spirulina, omega 3 capsules, and calcium.’ Throughout 2015 and 2016, Paul raised two additional loans, allowing him to stay on top of his inventory levels.
To share his thanks and appreciation, Paul shared this message on his discussion page on October 17, 2016, ‘Dear Lenders, I joyfully received the loan I requested for this evening. I appreciate your kind gesture and do my best as usual to use it to purchase and supply the health products for my customers.’
As Paul continued to receive loans from the Zidisha community, he was able to see a transformation in his business and life, ‘With the Zidisha loans I have been receiving so far in purchasing and supplying of health products, I can clearly see that I am able to stand the test of time and making steady progress in my business venture. The profits I derive enable me to take care of the household and other social responsibilities such as helping the less privileged in my community such as obtaining the national health certificate to children.’
Paul has also discovered that his business has allowed him to build credibility with wonderful people throughout his community. He says, ‘It makes me lead a satisfied life also. There are some occasions where some other health products are demanded that are not my normal supplies but with availability of funds l am able to cope with the demand hassle free. By this the customers increase and then increase in profit also.’
Like others around the world, Paul is currently witnessing the impact of Covid-19 in his local community and country. To continually be part of the solution, Paul raised $1,065 from the Zidisha community in June, 2020 to purchase liquid soap, hand sanitizer, paper napkins, thermometers, and face masks.
Most recently, on June 14, 2020, he shared this update with lenders, ‘The Zidisha loan has been a lot of help to me in that l have been able to evolve in my personal progress and my dependents and prompt delivery of goods to my customers as soon as they requested for supply of health products that l deal in. With the change of situations the world all over, l was able to withstand the changes as what they required since they are health related products. As money is available l quickly go for the required items and supply. What is in demand now is Digital Thermometer, Hand sanitizer, paper napkins, liquid soap and few others. In effect, the previous loans keep me going despite the challenges.’
Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Paul, helping his community during Covid-19? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners around the world.