Business in Booming in Senegal

Mr. Diouf

Meet Massamba Diouf, one of our borrowers from Dakar, Senegal. Mr. Diouf is in the stationary business where he has two printers, two computers, a fax machine, and internet at his disposal. In additional to his printing business, Mr. Diouf also sells office furniture and school supplies. Mr. Diouf sought a Zidisha loan to by a machine which he can use to add print to t-shirts, hats, and mugs. One of our volunteers recently met with Mr. Diouf in Dakar. Read what she had to say about their meeting in her own words:

Hi Lenders,

As a Client Relationship Manager intern in Dakar, I visited Massamba at his business last week. His shop is full of office supplies and other everyday use products. With printers, scanners, computers and an internet connection he can provide other business support services as well. He says, business is continuing normally but Massamba is anticipating with the presidential transition, an improved economic environment in the near future. 

With the loan money he received, he has purchased a hot press to print words and images on t-shirts, hats, and mugs. Through Youtube videos and friends who have similar machines, Massamba has mastered the technique required to use the hot press. The next steps are to first, advertise his new services and attract clients to order in bulk. Lutte match fans (Senegalese traditional wrestling) and informal soccer teams are both target customers, Massamba says. Second, an additional machine must be bought to cut the letters and symbols that are pressed on the products. Currently, Massamba is using a friend’s on contract. 

Picture to follow with Massamba and the new machine.


Dakar’s Apple Store

Monsieur Pouye

Meet Zidisha borrower Djibril Pouye. Dijibril is from Dakar, Senegal, and is in the electronics business. He sells everything from mobile telephones to laptops (even iPads!). However, because his stock is costly, he needed some additional capital to purchase stock. That is when the Zidisha lenders gave Djibril a loan that helped him reach his goals!

Our very own Madeline met with Djibril in Dakar this past week. Check out her impression of Djibril and his shop in her own words below:

Hi Lenders, 

I was able to visit Djibril (Djiby) last week at his electronics business. He and his brother own a small shop located in a bustling indoor electronics market. They sell cell phones, but also secondhand laptops, iPads, and other specialty electronics. With many other vendors surrounding them, Djiby’s business differentiates itself from competition by selling higher-end electronics. Currently, Djiby says the iPhone is their best seller. 

They are currently paying back their first loan and are eager to finish the payments quickly in order to take out a second, bigger loan to support their growing business.

To Reuse or not to Reuse

Meet Recheal Wairimu from Nakuru, Kenya. In a region robust in agriculture, manufacturing and tourism sectors, Recheal decided to employ a different methodology of conducting business, where she has been retailing second hand clothing, specifically in the production of beddings and towels. She attributes the success of her business to the high quality items she provides at relatively reasonable prices. The Zidisha loan has assisted her enormously, allowing her to expand her business further and in reducing the risk of finding non-retail-able items in bales. Little did she know that undertaking such a risk would lead to the prosperity of her business.
In the month of February, Recheal’s lender left a comment on her loan profile page, suggesting that she could perhaps convert the unsaleable bale materials into quilts or other items to generate greater profits for her store. On seeing this comment, Recheal decided to try out her lender’s idea and the results were surprisingly positive! She took some of the unsalable material to a tailor and eventually converted them all to bags for kindergardeners. She even diligently decorated the bags in order to render them beautiful! Her innovative techniques are definitely commendable and should inspire other retail store owners to pursue such tactics.

The Best Laid Plans….

Mr. Mwathi in his barbershop

Meet John Mwathi from Nairobi, Kenya. John started his transportation business in order to provide for his family. Because of the rough terrain in John’s area, donkey carts are one of the only viable methods of transportation. John accredits his businesses success to his affordable prices, efficiently, and speed. John planned to use his Zidisha loan to purchase a motor bike, with some additional money from his personal savings. This would allow John to offer faster service to his customers. However, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

The sausage kiosk

Mr. Mwathi met with our Client Relationship Manager recently. Learn what our own Achintya Rai had to say about meeting Mr. Mwathi below:

Hello lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’s current Kenya Client Relationship Intern. On 24th March I met John Mwathi at his shop in Utawala, Nairobi.

John used to live in Nakuru earlier. He took his loan to purchase a bike, which he intended to use as a taxi (boda-boda). The bike did not give him the returns he expected so he sold it and moved to Nairobi. Now he has a small barbershop. He uses the front of his shop to sell shoes and also has a small kiosk to sell steamed sausages and boiled eggs. 

John is just 23 and he has already experimented with a number of jobs. After finishing school he did a small course in IT. He then did a course in driving a lorry. He started work by buying a donkey and a cart, which he used to supply water. He also did manual labor to supplement his income. Later John bought his bike.

I found John to be a very pleasant person. And even though he seemed a little shy in my presence, he was constantly smiling. He told me the economics of the sausage and eggs business. John’s future plan is to open a snack shop where he can sell hamburgers, cakes, biscuits and chips. 

After hearing John talk about hamburgers and cakes I was obviously hungry so I decided to buy a sausage. John asked his friend, who was manning the cart at that moment, to move and prepared the sausage for me himself by slitting it and filing it with a salsa like preparation called kachumbari and sprinkling it with salt. It was delicious. 

John was having trouble making his Zidisha payments because of shifting to Nairobi and starting a whole new business. I helped him reschedule his loan. Having talked to him I feel sure he will be now able to meet his loan commitments.


1st April 2012 

Looks good!

"The Fish in Kenya Are Not Educated"

Pastor Joseph Ndungu is one of our most active borrowers on Zidisha. Pastor Ndungu is from Rongai, Kenya where he lives with his wife and 10 children. Besides running his ministry, and helping with his large family, Pastor Ndungu also creates canvas bags for school children and seat covers for motorcycles. Pastor Ndungu wanted his Zidisha loan so he could purchase the material needed to make the Boda Boda (motorcycle seat covers). Our in country Client Relationship Manager Achintya Rai recently met with Pastor Ndungu. Read about their encounter below:

Pastor Ndungu creating his bags

Hello lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Intern. I recently met Pastor Joseph Ndungu in Rongai town of Nakuru.

Pastor Ndungu’s main business is making seat covers for bikes from a material called Rexine (a Wikipedia search reveals that Rexine was a British trademark that has now become the generic name for this leather like synthetic material). He also makes school bags and he used his Zidisha loan to buy canvas for making these. The Pastor told me that he got the loan at the right time because he had just then received an order for 280 school bags

Pastor Ndungu is a very very jovial and interesting man. He seems to be very popular in his area and is full of life. He is also a dynamic businessman. He has designed fishing hooks that look like live insects. When I asked him if there was much demand for such hooks, he said “the fish in Kenya are not educated enough for this kind of bait” so he mostly looks for exporting these. 

Apart from designing these hooks/bait, he also designs jewelry. He says that while the fishing hooks are for husbands, the jewelry is for the wives. He explains- “what’ll the wife do when you go fishing?”

Pastor Ndungu’s workshop is the railway station of Rongai. No trains stop here any more so he rents the place (the small railway station), which also serves as the church on Sundays. He also makes covers for bibles. When I asked him how he learnt to make all these things, he told me that he trained to stitch clothes and everything else is “just from God”

Just before I was leaving someone tried to pull the Pastor’s leg and said, “now the pastor will show us his tie”. Pastor Ndungu replied, “First good Christians have to PAY FOR my tie!”

Pastor Ndungu told me that on Sundays his church is full of people. Looking at his energy, charm, great wit and charisma, I’m not surprised. I had a great time talking to him and I wish him the best of luck for his future.

1st April 2012

Some of Pastor Ndungu’s fishing lures

Another lure

Borrower Posted Pictures!

Vitalis Opondo is one of our borrowers from Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Opondo supports his family of four children by working in metal fabrication. He originally requested his loan to buy some materials for a cart and a grinding machine. Check out his comment in his own words, plus some great pictures he uploaded!

I wish to thank my Zidisha sponsors.The loan i got has enhanced my business greatly.Now my hand cart is helping me to transport finished goods at a small fee.The stock i bought with 40,000/= has increased to kshs 60,000/=.
The attached photos are some of the goods we do fabricate at fox farm workshop.
I hope to contact you again in the near future,
Vitalis Opondo

Paying for School

Peter and his family with the chickens

Peter  Wambui, one of our borrowers in Kenya, has recently updated the lenders on his progress. Mr. Wambui originally planed to use his loan to purchase a van so he could deliver his poultry goods to market. Here is what Mr. Wambui had to say in his own words: 

Zidisha family we are okay with my family, our Shop is doing well and well stocked with the money we received from Zidisha. My Customer are very happy because they can get most of the merchadised goods they need from the shop. The two hundred chicks are doing well and will be sold soon where I expect to make good profit. My family is very happy because my Children can go to school without any interaption because through Zidisha investment I can pay all the school fee for the whole term without fail. 

Full House

Our Client Relationship Manager recently met with Eunice Ngetha in Embakasi, Kenya. Eunice runs a detergent business where she sells her products to the public and institutions. They are dangerous chemicals but Eunice is experienced. With three children of her own, and an additional 5 she and her husband adopted, you could say she has a full house!

Check our what Achintya had to say after meeting Eunice:

Dear lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’s current Kenya Client Relationship Intern. On 7th March I met Eunice Ngetha in Embakasi area of Utawala in Nairobi.

Eunice was part of a Self Help Group that taught its members to make detergents and disinfectants. Eunice later started her own business of making these and selling at prices lower than the market. The detergents and disinfectants Eunice makes are used by hospitals and schools to wash floors, clothes, utensils and lavatories. 

The chemicals Eunice uses are dangerous to store so she buys them only after she has received an order. And she receives many of them. She said to me “Even if I go to America I’ll find an order!” I have no doubt she will because Eunice is one of the most confident persons I have met here. 

Eunice told me about an incident which confirmed to me that she is a great marketer. To transport drums of detergents to faraway places, she loads them in public buses and the customer unloads them at his location. She once lost 25,000 Kenyan Shillings worth of detergents when the customer told her he never received it. But she never complained. And now she has very good relations with this customer.

Eunice found Zidisha on her own. Her earlier loans were very costly so when she needed capital for her business she ‘googled’ it and found Zidisha. When I met her she had not yet received the disbursement of her loan but she planned to use it to buy chemicals for this big airport contract she had recently got.

Her husband is the principal of a school in Machakos where Eunice also used to work as a matron. She left that job and shifted to Nairobi when the business picked up.

Eunice has three children, two of whom are studying. She has also adopted five children. Three of these are orphans in her village and the other two are bright students from a school she went to sell her products to. The principal told her that these students couldn’t afford their school fee and Eunice readily decided to sponsor them. This is one trait I have found common in many Kenyans, this incredible desire to share their wealth.

Eunice’s dream is to build a school. She told me that she has already bought 3 acres of land in an area called Embu for this. I expect great things from Eunice. With her energy and her desire to help others, I wish she succeeds in whatever endeavors she undertakes.

9th April 2012 

Grace and her Donkey

Grace Wanjiru

Meet Grace Wanjiru, one of our borrowers from Nairobi, Kenya. Grace is a mother of three children, and one grandchild. After the death of her husband, Grace was forced to leave her home by her in-laws. Because Grace still needed to pay for her youngest son’s education, she decided to start her own business! Grace ran a shop where she sold various household items and foodstuffs. Grace applied to Zidisha so she could purchase more items to sell in her shop, and increase her profit. However, because of high rent and low profit margins, Grace sold her business and started a new endeavor!

Our Client Relationship Manager met with Grace recently. Read about his meeting with Grace and her new business:

Grace with Joyce and her cart.

Dear lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’a current Kenya Client Relationship Intern. On 10th March I paid a visit to Grace Wanjiru in Utawala area of Nairobi.

Grace took the loan from Zidisha to increase the stock of her shop. But the rent she was paying for her shop was quite high and the returns were not enough. So she sold that business and used the money to buy a donkey and a cart. She uses this to transport water to construction sites.

The day I visited Grace it was quite hot. She told me she transports about 20 drums of water in each trip and she is able to make 7 to 8 trips in a day. This is hard labor, especially in that temperature. But Grace seemed happy with her new business and was quite thankful to Zidisha.

Grace has three children, two of whom have finished their education. Her youngest son stays 
with his maternal grandmother in Naivasha where he is studying (Grace pays the school fee). He recently cleared the form-1 exams well and Grace was very hopeful about his future.

On my way to meet Grace, I saw a man at a bore-well (place where donkey cart owners like Grace buy water from) beating his donkey. My first impulse was to shout at him, but I resisted, being in a foreign land. He stopped when he saw me looking but it was an upsetting site. To be fair though this is very rare in Kenya. In fact this was the first time I saw someone mistreating an animal. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that Grace was extremely nice and kind to her donkey Joyce. She patted Joyce affectionately many times and unconsciously caressed her neck while talking to me. Joyce contently closed her eyes. When I asked Grace she told me that’s how Joyce caught on her sleep between breaks.

With her next loan Grace wants to buy a knitting machine to knit pullovers. These are in high demand as part of school uniforms and with many new schools coming up in the area, Grace sees this as a good opportunity.

As a last note I must inform the lenders that Joyce is pregnant and will be expecting a baby donkey in Jan next year. I hope Grace posts pictures.


9th April 2012 

Joyce the Donkey

Fueling the Fire!

Mr. Wambugu with his gasoline pump.

Benedict Wambugu is a Zidisha borrower from Kiptangwanyi, Kenya. He runs a business where he sells kerosene, diesel, and now gasoline (thanks to his Zidisha loan!). Mr. Wambugu has a great location for his business because many of his customers do not have electricity, so they require fuel for cooking and lighting.

Read what our Client Relationship Manager Achintya had to say about their recent encounter:

Hello Lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai.

I visited Kiptangwanyi on Thursday (2nd Feb 2012) and had the chance to meet Benedict Wambugu at his business premises. Benedict has a small store from where he sells Petrol, Kerosene and Diesel to people here. Before taking his Zidisha loan, he used to sell only Diesel and Kerosene, but with the loan money he started selling Petrol as well. He buys petrol for 112 shillings a liter and sells it for 130 shillings. He sells about 10 liters of petrol in a day. Most of his sale is of kerosene, which people use for lighting lamps. 

He has a mechanical, hand operated pump that he uses to fill kerosene. This pump is connected to an underground tank, which the company truck comes and fills up. Benedict seemed very proud of his pump and volunteered to demonstrate to the camera how it operated. Even though I told him not to because I was taking still pictures, he insisted. I hope some of his energy spilled over in the images.

With the next loan, Benedict wants to buy a motorbike. He now uses a bicycle and this limits his reach greatly.

Benedict is 23. He is married.

Mugaa Village, Kenya

4th Feb 2012