One Brick at a Time

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Betsy Ramser Jaime

Billy Ndolo leads a busy life, as he balances his work as a Lawyer and also builds and manages rental properties in his rural town. When he started with Zidisha, he shared that in the future he hopes to expand into other businesses such as hardware and also large scale farming.

For his work as a lawyer, Billy is employed within a law firm and also does some personal cases as well to supplement his income. As he started with Zidisha in December 2019, he began the first phase of his building project and predicted that he would be ready for stage two starting in March, 2020.

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In his short time with Zidisha since 2019, Billy has raised 9 Zidisha funded loans, with 5 total loans in December. With these initial loans he found himself in a better position to build up his credit and to begin purchasing building materials.

His vision for his rental houses was to build homes with three rooms each, and four doors. In December he found himself with 90% of the materials purchased and continuing to raise funds to put towards labor and materials.

On Dec 31, 2019, Billy took to his discussion page and happily shared this update with his lenders, ‘The foundation of the houses I’m doing is already done. Walling will start in due course. Thank you.’

Shortly thereafter, in January, Billy was able to raise $55 to begin construction and almost finished up to the roof level. The following month, in February, Billy made impressive progress with a loan for $79 and one for $115, allowing him to continue purchasing materials such as doors, windows, plaster, and paint. This loan also enabled him to complete phase 1 of construction and also begin making bricks for phase 2.


Enthusiastic about his progress, Billy shared this update with his Zidisha lenders on February 2, 2020, ‘ I thank you all for granting me the loan and I’m looking forward to fully complete construction of the house by April. Thank you.’

As Billy approached lenders for a $416 loan in April, he shared, ‘I have already built and completed phase one of the low cost houses and now in the process of concluding phase 2 of the houses. I have bought most of the materials for phase 2 and I intend to start in May God willing. Zidisha has been with me through the whole journey and I thank them for that. We are still going to work but in two shifts for purposes of maintaining social distance. Our employer still intends to pay us for the next three weeks as I do work in an motor insurance company and motor vehicles are still moving around.’

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Materials for phase 2.

As of May 1, 2020, Billy shared on his discussion page that the bricks are completed and he is hoping to start construction in one month.

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Completed Bricks!

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Billy? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about incredible Zidisha business owners around the globe.


Switching Things Up

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Born in Mwea Gategi, Kenya, Daniel Maingi attended school in his village and later  managed to join Lenana school before going on to Jomo Kenyatta University. During his university studies, Daniel focused on expanding his skillset in Information Technology, as he says, ‘I love technology and it’s my dream that one day I will have a big venture that empowers other youth in terms of job creation to enable them to also earn a living.’

For the first 4 years of Daniel’s entrepreneurial journey, he operated his own shop selling mobile phones. Between 2014 and 2015, he was able to to successfully raise 3 Zidisha funded loans to expand his business. Starting with an initial loan of $50 in November, 2014, Daniel explained, ‘when I get the loan I will add more phones to the shop thus customers will be able to get a variety of products as I look forward to adding more stock in the future since I have to start small and build up the shop to a big venture in the future. I have been tying a get a loan from local lenders but they need security which is hard to get as a youth with a small business venture. Mobile phone is a good business venture considering everyone need the device to communicate. If I buy one phone at $5.7 I will buy approximately 8 phones.’


The following year, in 2015, Daniel raised two additional Zidisha funded loans, one for $49 and the other for $48, allowing him to add additional inventory to his shop. After seeing success with his first Zidisha loan, he shared, ‘After the 1st loan, I have made a big profit which is almost 20% of the loan amount as profit and I bought more phones. I would like to stock more variety for my customers since with many brands. I believe I will be a one stop shop for phone and also phone accessories.’

A few years into running his shop, Daniel decided to sell his business and move into a different type of business, running a taxicab business. Since making this transition in his business, he has found success as he bought one taxicab, employed a worker, and was later on able to purchase a second cab, allowing him to double his weekly income.

Since starting the taxicab business, Daniel has raised 4 additional Zidisha funded loans, to help him take this business to new heights. In November 2019, he was able to raise $173, which he put toward purchasing new tires for his taxi.

The following month, he raised, $251 from Zidisha lenders, allowing him to buy seat covers for his taxi. He determined that this would be a smart business move as it would allow him to easily clean the seats, especially during the current busy season when he was experiencing a higher number of customers than usual.

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So far in 2020, Daniel has raised funds both in January ($326) and March ($565) and these loans have enabled him to purchase new tires and lights for his second cab and to do some paint work on his first cab.

Sharing his pride for his business and gratitude for the Zidisha community, Daniel says, ‘Dear lenders thank you so much for the loans that have boosted my cab business tremendously and managed me to be competitive in the market. Tires are all fine and lights works super well. Thank you so much.’

Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Daniel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners around the world.

Becoming A Better Person

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I am really grateful to Zidisha and all the investors because I have knocked on a lot of doors without success,’ shares Aisha Musah. As a child, Aisha learned a lot about resilience and overcoming challenges, as she lost both of her parents at a young age. Aisha says that later on, ‘I finished secondary school with lot’s of difficulties from family to family and couldn’t go to university because of school fees.’

Aisha eventually got married and had two beautiful children, but sadly, her husband couldn’t help with the children and he ended up leaving the family. While she certainly has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, Aisha is determined to create a better life for her children, sharing, ‘I don’t want my children to face the same suffering I faced.’ As Aisha dove into entrepreneurship, and the support of the Zidisha community, she found a way to provide an education and better future for her herself and her children.

With the backing of Zidisha lenders, Aisha has been able to raise 8 Zidisha funded loans since she joined the community in 2017. Within her business, Aisha operates a shop in the Medina market where she sells a variety of goods such as, ‘disposable chairs, plates, cups, and other items like liquid soap and antiseptic.’ As a new Zidisha borrower, she raised $115 in September 2017 and was able to grow her supply of tables and chairs for her business.

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With each following loan in 2017-2020, Aisha continued to purchase additional stock, continually expanding her business. As she grew her business, Aisha found that plastic chairs have become her biggest seller and now that is the product that she is best know for and that she focuses on most in her business.

Throughout her time with Zidisha, Aisha is proud that she is now able to feed her children, and send them to school. Plus, she can also clearly see the personal transformation in her own life as well, as she continues to grow into a new version of herself.

Recently, on February 5, 2020, Aisha took to her discussion page and shared this update with her lenders, ‘With this loan I am going to fulfill all the orders I have taken. It will help me a lot make some profit. I thank you all for your generosity. And putting smiles onto our faces.’

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Aisha reach her dreams? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects page to read about other Zidisha business owners all around the world.

Boosting Morale

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Alex Ndiema is a Kenyan entrepreneur, husband, and father of two children. Growing up, he attended Mt. Elgon Primary School and successfully passed his KCPE examination, but was unable to continue his education because of a lack of fees.

During that time, he was already cultivating his entrepreneurial mindset as he borrowed a camera from a friend on a commission basis until he could purchase his own, and began earning money taking photographs. And today, he still holds onto that camera as a great memory of that time.

The following year, he was able to start secondary school at Mt. Mary’s and upon completing his studies, he did some computer coursework. Afterwards, he received a job offer in the industrial area where he gained experience and worked for 5 years.

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Along the way, as Alex got married and had a child, he found that the money that he was earning was not enough to support his growing family. Using the little money that he had saved, he chose to delve into entrepreneurship.

While starting up and getting some traction, Alex started as a Mandazi (fried bread, sometimes called an African donut) business and also did shop keeping, and cyber cafe services. Starting out, he had two computers and one printer, offering scanning, copying, and printing.

Alex shares the beginning of his journey as he says, ‘The business had little or no competitors, so I grew up very fast, I had a lot of customers but few computers, it was not late to re-organize myself since I got introduced to Zidisha by a friend (Abigael), from there Zidisha took charge of my finances as far as business expense and assets are concerned. Right now I have a full Cybercafe, an equipped Photo Studio, an Mpesa and lastly, I have started doing supplies. Glory be to God and much thanks to Zidisha and my lenders.’

From the time that Alex joined Zidisha in August 2017, he has been able to raise 12 Zidisha funded loans. His growth is unbelievably as his first loan was for $7 and his most recent was over $1,000. With his first 3 loans in 2017, Alex utilized the funds to purchase photocopy materials and a printer.

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As 2017 came to a close, Alex was determined to add a color printer to his shop. Not having a color printer of his own, he’d have to hurry to a neighboring business to use their color printer each time a customer required color services. He knew that having his own would allow him to offer swift service and would also please his customers. In addition, a color printer would allow him to print photographs, and assist with passport photos, increasing his services. Alex excitedly explains, ‘people tent to go far to get their pictures printed, by getting that printer, I would have made it easy for the surrounding customers and community at large. That will also spell an expansion of my business and can also bring about employment to the future generation.’

In his business, 2018 was an extraordinary year of growth as he purchased a copy machine for large volumes of printing, bought studio lights, a new camera, and he even changed his location.

For Alex, obtaining the studio lights was especially important as his poor lighting had been hindering his ability to offer high quality passport photos for his customers. He even set out to do his own research, traveling to other shops and paying for their photo services to gain ideas for improving his own lighting and backgrounds.

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Throughout 2019 and so far in 2020, Alex has been able to raise 3 loans from Zidisha lenders. The first loan allowed him to venture into another business, offering supplies such as, photocopy papers, and detergents.

With his most recent loans, Alex has been able to keep adding funds to his Mpesa business and also purchasing stock for the cybercafe.

Proud of himself and how far he’s come, Alex shared this update with lenders on March 22, ‘The previous loan that I took was for my business expansion. It really helped me a lot since I pumped the cash into my Mpesa and Cooperative agent in form of float and cash rotation. This enabled my business to run smoothly without the hiccups of running short of cash or float to serve my customers. As a result I missed no transaction and resulted in high commission and my customers were guaranteed of service and were 100% sure when they come to my shop. To my employees, it boosted their morale since there was enough capital and they knew very well that what ever they were doing will earn them a salary at the end of the month.’

Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Alex? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about inspiring Zidisha business owners all around the world.



Learning To Be Self Dependent

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Philip Kibiwott Chelilim was born and raised in the small town of Turbo, Kenya, not far from the city of Eldoret. As a young adult, he was educated at Moi University and earned his degree in Finance.

He vulnerably shares, ‘I overcame hardship through learning to be self dependent through looking for other avenues of earning income and I managed to achieve this through being self employed; starting my own business.’

Using his own personal savings, Philip decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. More specifically, he earns his living making wood furniture which he then sells to a large customer base consisting of: individuals, schools, offices, hotels, restaurants, and hospitals.’

Catering to such a wide variety of customers has been a great strategy for Philip, allowing him to spread his brand awareness throughout his own community and serving many customers and businesses in the process.

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Philip succinctly explains, ‘I started my business in 2014 when I was still in the University. These goods are in huge demand because institutions and individuals cannot do without them and are part and parcel of their daily lives and operations. I chose this kind of business because of its feasibility and sustainability economically.’

In terms of monthly typical business costs, Philip typically spends about $1,000 on timber, $100 on electricity, $300 towards labor, $20 for business permits, $100 on logistics, and about $100 for other miscellaneous costs. In general, he brings in a gross revenue of $3,200 dollars a month.

Through his business, Philip is able to continually reinvest in his business, as well as support his siblings by paying their school fees.

Outside of running a business, Philip enjoys spending his time reading novels and making new friends, and truly loves the sense of unity and togetherness that his culture exemplifies.

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While he might be fairly new to the Zidisha community, he is off to a great start with an impressive 100% repayment rate for his loans.

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $15, Philip shared his goals for the funds as he explained, ‘With this loan I am going to buy a CNC router machine for 3D wood carving. This will enable me to make quality and durable furniture thus making better items readily available to the customers.’

Shortly thereafter, Philip was able to raise a second Zidisha funded loan, adding more timber to his business. Through this he hoped to increase his profit margins by 2%.

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Recently, in March and April, 2020, Philip was faced with the problem that most business owners dream of, a surge in customers! With an increase in demand, Philip was able to utilize two additional Zidisha funded loans, for $175 and $297 to purchase additional timber. This included a huge order from a local hospital for 15 hospital beds.

On March 5, 2020, Philip took to his discussion page and shared with his lenders, ‘With the loan I received, I bought timber for my furniture. This made me increase the items in my shop and made more products available for my clients. My earnings increased by about 1.6%. I plan to use the profits to buy more timber.’

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Would you like to help a business owner like Philip boost their inventory and business? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read above dozens of other hardworking entrepreneurs all around the world.


Against All The Odds

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

While a disability might be enough to discourage some young adults from pursuing their dreams, that’s not at all the case for Hagan Golo. He shares, ‘I am 39 years old and the last among eight siblings. I was born in Dambai a farming and fishing community along the Volta lake. At age six I suffered a polio attack and therefore had been with disability on one leg till today. Even with my disability and being the last with my aged parent, I supported my parents in farming and fishing.’

Hagan is nothing short of an inspiration as he often trekked long distances with the use of crutches in order to receive an education. He continues, ‘Against all the odds I was able to complete my basic education and passed Basic Education certificate Exams successfully. Since most secondary schools within the area lack facilities for kids with disability, I stayed home for two years without going to Secondary or Technical School. The fear for my parent was that I can’t cope with secondary school alone in the boarding house where washrooms, classrooms etc. were not disability friendly.’

After being at home for two years, he then successfully entered a technical and vocational school to gain additional skills. With an impressive performance in his classes and on his exams, he then was accepted to Ghana Technology University to study Telecommunication Engineering.

For Hagan, joining the Zidisha community has been an excellent opportunity to continue his studies and pay his school fees, as he hopes to finish his Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and possibly even a PhD.

In his own words, ‘With this assistance from Zidisha, finances are no more headaches to me any longer and I can get more concentration on academic work with practice on problem solving engineering practicals that can add more value to myself. I believe strongly that with my creativity, innovations and skills, I can use my engineering background to liberate my community from the shackles of poverty, and then make a meaningful living for my people for the years to come. I have a strong conviction that by the time I complete my study at the university; I will come out with some work using Science, Technology and Innovation for Poverty Reduction in my community and beyond.’

In the future, Hagan envisions being able to help other schools in expanding their science and engineering courses in rural communities where these subjects are often overlooked.

In his time with Zidisha, since the beginning of 2018, Hagan has raised 8 Zidisha funded loans ranging in size from $113 to $486. These loans, from Zidisha lenders all over the world, have enabled Hagan to pay his school fees, support his housing costs, and purchase course materials, books, and school supplies such as, pens, pencils, drawing papers, and photocopies.

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Recently, on Mar 27, 2020, Hagan wrote on his Zidisha discussion page to share his gratitude for his lenders and the Zidisha community at large. ‘Can’t imagine how my world would have been without Zidisha loans. Thank you to all my lenders for supporting my dream. You made me forget those difficult days when things were so bad for me financially. Thank you for your rescue, God richly bless you all. You made my study on campus good for me.’

Would you like to support the education of an inspiring student like Hagan? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about Zidisha students and entrepreneurs around the world.



Zidisha Has Really Improved My Family

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

“It has been a long journey and challenging especially when it comes to limited funds to sustain a consistent supply to my client,” shares Madesto Waswa. Like many entrepreneurs, Madesto has experienced his share of struggles and ups and downs in his life. Going back to his younger years, Madesto was educated at Strathmore University where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree and attended college from 2010-2013.

Upon receiving his degree, his gained real world experience working as an Assistant Manager at Tristan Marketing. Following that experience, he moved on to MBSI where he obtained a position as Operations Manager. After these two work experiences, he was ready to go out on his own and start his own venture.

To describe his current business, Madesto says, ‘My business deals with supply of vegetables fruits and cereals in massive quantity to schools and hotels on a daily basis. Then at the end of the month I get paid in cash or cheque.’ His office and stalls are in the Bungoma area and he’s found that the goods that he offers are in high demand in his community. Today his business is performing so well that it is the sole source of income for his family.
As a member of the Zidisha community for over 3 years, Madesto has found his stride in successfully raising funds to grow and expand his business. Since joining, Madesto has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $11 to $1,380.
Upon becoming a Zidisha member, Madesto saw the potential that these loans would have to allow him to pay suppliers on time, purchase extra packaging materials, local transportation for the farmers to travel to and from his shop, and airtime for communication with clients. In addition, he also saw this as an opportunity to add to his existing working capital.

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With his second Zidisha funded loan, in October 2016, Madesto found himself able to purchase an HP flash disk for his laptop as he says, ‘The memory for the flash will be 4GB. It will benefit me for that because I will use the new flash disk to replace the lost one so that I can use it to keep files and documents of my business.’

Shortly thereafter, with a loan of $82 in December 2016 and a loan of $389 in March 2017, Madesto greatly expanded his current stock of products buying fruits, vegetables, cereals, and other items. He was also able to set aside part of the loan to cover his rent for his business as well.

Reflecting on his experience with Zidisha, Madesto took to his discussion page on July 12, 2017 and humbly shared, ‘I would like to take this chance and appreciate my dear lenders for the support they have given me and even the basic financial experience I have learnt from Zidisha. I duly appreciate by continuing working with you and your financial support. Thank you.’

The following year, in 2018, Madesto successfully raised a $641 loan with the intention to purchase two laptops to make data entry easier for his staff. He explains, ‘This will enable proper book keeping of gross turnover sales of my business.’

Since then, he has also raised loans of $995 in January 2019, and $1,380 in March 2020. With these, Madesto was able to purchase a television and also expand his shop and add additional household items to his business inventory.

Over the past few years Madesto has come a long way in his business and says, ‘Zidisha has really improved both my family and my lifestyle. Everything is going on right. Because of you, I have never thought of taking a loan from another financial institution other than Zidisha. God bless you all.’


Would you like to impact the life of a business owner like Madesto? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read dozens of inspiring stories of entrepreneurs all around the world.