Printing Campaign Brochures in Kenya

Here is another great update from Vivien in Kenya!

Hello Lenders,

My name is Vivien Barbier and I’m one of the Zidisha current client relationship interns for Kenya. Today, I visited Obed Njuki in Ongata Rongai. We had a long talk about his business and its future development.

After studying graphical design in college, Obed went to work for different printing company to put in practice his theoretical knowledge. He spent two years learning what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur in this industry. He has now quit his former job to open his own printing business and is determined to make it work. This is why he asked Zidisha for a loan to buy the printing machine that you can see on the picture. When I was visiting him, he was about to sent to a senator candidate a brochure about his products. The election that will soon take place in Kenya is a big opportunity for Obed’s business. Candidates will need to print tract, banners and T-shirt. This is why Obed is trying very hard to convince them to do business with him. One of the challenges that Obed is facing here is to make sure that these candidates will remember him when it comes to select who will print all the campaign material.

He also told me that this is Zidisha’s loan that made the brochure for the senator candidate possible. After repaying this loan, he plans to apply for a bigger one that will allow him to buy machine able to print up to 5 colors on the same T-shirt. 

We had a very interesting discussion about what he could do to grow his printing business. He was thinking to send samples to potential customers so that they can see the quality of his work. I hope that some of my ideas will help him to launch new products. 

28th June 2012
Nairobi, Kenya 

Plans for College

Samuel Mburu

Check out this great update from Vivien when he met up with Samuel Mburu:

Hello Lenders,

My name is Vivien Barbier and I’m one of the Zidisha’s current client relationship interns for Kenya. Today I visited Samuel and his business. 

The loan helped Samuel to increase the profitability of his business. With the money he was able to buy more spare parts, so that he can repair radiator and fan more quickly. Samuel told me that Zidisha helped him a lot and that he should be able to repay the loan before what is scheduled. 

Samuel has three children, two of them are going to public school and the first one recently finished Elementary school and is trying to go to college. The college education is not free so Samuel is trying to earn enough money to allow is first born to study. I hope that his business will continue to grow so that he can make sure all his children can have a good education. I’m convinced that Samuel will manage to do it. His business seems to be working well and Samuel had a lot of work to do when I visited him.

27th June 2012
Nairobi, Kenya 

Capitalism is Alive and Well in Kenya

Another great update from Traci in Kenya:

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently residing in Mugaa, visiting Zidisha borrowers in nearby villages. 

A borrower’s profile captures a tiny portion of the life he or she lives, rarely painting an accurate picture of their hard work and perseverance. Nicholas Munyua describes himself above as a businessman in Miti Mingi, but having the opportunity to visit him today, I see he did not do himself justice. I meet Nicholas in front of his store, Munyua General Shop, but soon find out he also owns a boutique two doors down called A to Z Boutique. Among the various items stocked on his shelves, Nicholas is most proud of the grains he is able to sell, making a profit of 500,000 Ksh a year. This was made possible through his first Zidisha loan. He explains how Zidisha has allowed him to “elevate to another level”. Along with buying items for his stores, Nicholas was able to repair his vehicle with his second Zidisha loan. As essential to his business as the store itself, his truck allows him to transport his stock from the faraway cities of Nakuru and Nairobi. 

Businesses aside, Mr. Munyua is also the deputy teacher (VP) at Elementita Primary School. This paying only 800 Ksh a month (less than $10), he also relies on his two-acre shamba. His shamba, situated next to his home, is ripe with pumpkins, bananas, oranges, potatoes, beans, maize, and much more. With a kindness that I am unable to express in words, he does not let me leave Miti Mingi without giving me a bag filled with oranges. 

Also worth noting is his role as a father, for although I have met many fathers during my stay in Kenya, Mr. Munyua may be the proudest. As we sit in his living room and enjoy a steaming cup of tea, he reminisces over a stack of photos documenting birthday parties, school visitation days, and family get-togethers. As he tells me more about his eldest daughter, who now attends Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, he picks up his phone and calls her. Being as kind and personable as her father, Susan makes plans to meet me the next time I am in Nairobi. 

Being poor as a child, Nicholas recounts the many instances where he went without food for as many as two days. He remembers promising himself that this would not be his fate or that of his family. With the help of loans and a man who knows what he is striving for, Mr. Munyua and his family have managed to own two blooming businesses, send all their children to boarding schools to get the best education, and build a new home equipped with all the modern conveniences. With all this determination, does it come as a surprise that this all started with a little kiosk selling mangoes and vegetables? 

A Barber Shop is Born

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently residing in Mugaa, visiting Zidisha borrowers in nearby villages. 

“I’m very hard working,” says Jane Wambui without a tinge of boastfulness, but rather a sense of pride. Rightfully so, Jane is 27 years old and already a successful businesswoman, not to mention a mother of two. Jane and her husband own a kinyozi (salon) and a produce stall in Miti Mingi. As Jane and I speak from her stall, we peer across the street at the kinyozi where we can see her husband cutting the hair of a young gentleman. In another minute, Jane gets a customer wanting to buy bananas, evidence that their two businesses are thriving. 

Jane is an experienced Zidisha member, already repaying her 2nd loan. She comments on how she finished repaying her first loan 4 months early, and she anticipates following this example for her second. The creation of her family’s kinyozi was possible because of Zidisha. Through her first loan of Ksh 50,000, Jane was able to rent a space, buy all the necessary machinery (i.e. shavers, razors), stock her store with hair products and shoes, and even buy two batteries that enable her shop to stay open during the frequent power outages. While her husband is in charge of styling the men, Jane takes care of the children haircuts when not working at her produce stall. We have all heard of children being fearful of haircuts, with scissors too close for comfort and strange noises and smells permeating the air. Jane gestures towards her face, implying this is the answer to their haircut jitters. Although both Jane and her husband have no formal training in barbering, she explains to me that, “some courses come from the heart”. To further prove how hard working she is, Jane speaks about her two cows, one of which was bought with her second Zidisha loan. With the milk from her cows, she is able to make Ksh 15,000 a month, which then assists in paying for school fees (both boys are in boarding schools) and rent for her kinyozi. 

Upon leaving, Jane reaches for a banana, the ripest of the bunch, and gives it to me as a gift. Refusing to take my money, she makes me promise to visit again, even extending an invitation to her home. As I make my 6km descent home, I think about Miti Mingi, one of the smallest villages I have seen in Kenya, but filled with people possessing the biggest of hearts.

Lessons we can Learn from Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born 94 years ago today in the small village of Mvezo, South Africa. As we reflect on the world’s most renowned freedom fighter and peacemaker on his birthday, we should also reflect on the lessons that he has taught us.

When confronted with the challenge of changing the status quo of an entire nation Nelson Mandela showed unshakable leadership. When the decision was made to move from peaceful demonstrations to armed confrontation he knew that he should be the one to lead the armed wing of the ANC, known as the Spear of the Nation (Umkhonto we Sizwe). It was only the trust of his people that allowed Mandela to successfully convince the ANC leadership that the move was right. By putting himself in a highly visible position he inspired his people, and altered the course of history.

When Nelson Mandela won the presidential election in 1994 white people across the nation were concerned about the policies that he might enact. Instead of punishing his enemy, he made them his friend, and thus earned their respect and devotion. It is a special man that can forgive the people and regime that imprisoned him for the better part of three decades. If a man who lost so much can forgive, than the rest of the nation could certainly find a way to forgive, as well.

Mandela’s actions involving the armed wing of the ANC ultimately led to his long imprisonment. During the Rivonia trial it was apparent that the Apartheid regime was going to try to have Mandela executed on the basis of terrorism charges. Facing death, Mandela did not refute what he was being condemned for, quite the contrary in fact. Nelson used the trial as a pulpit to talk about the Apartheid regime’s actions against his people. He took pride in his decision, and explained that Apartheid had pushed the ANC into a corner where peaceful demonstrators across the nation were coming under fire. He argued that the ANC could only fight successfully by employing the use of equal force. Mandela’s life was ultimately spared, and he was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island.

Hybrid models and Zidisha’s role

It might seem complicated but one can link a for-profit and non-profit together. In such a model, it is important to put forth the distinction between these two forms of organizational structures. Nonprofit leaders are more adept at creating programs than they are about managing their finances, whereas for-profit businesses possess greater astuteness in their financial dealings. The nonprofit is generally held not to engage in conversations about the long-term sustainability of its organization, in contrast to a for-profit, which generally allows the customer to act as its major source of revenue.
Where does Zidisha fit in within the hybrid scheme of things? Many non-profits do possess lucrative funding approaches, thus creating a hybrid model. One such example can be found through the activities of the Susan G. Komen Foundation that uses a funding model known as the Heartfelt Connector. Nonprofits using these models grow large by focusing on causes that resonate with the deep concerns of a large number of people at all income levels and by creating a structure method of connecting these people when none had previously existed. Heartfelt Connectors tend to establish connections between volunteers through fundraising ventures. The Komen Foundation works through a network of 125 affiliates to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by funding research grants, by supporting education, screening, and treatment projects in communities around the world, and by educating women about the importance of early detection.  Zidisha rests within this spectrum, where it is creating a platform for advancing entrepreneurship for low-income individuals in Kenya and Senegal. We are offering lenders the ability to sign up for a free membership on our website and providing quick and easy access to different loan opportunities, choosing the ones that are most fund-worthy. The greatest aspect is that once the borrower’s bid is complete, he/she is in business! The lender can even keep in touch with the borrower and ask questions and progress updates about their business.

The current economic climate can set some nonprofit leaders off course and Zidisha is looking to avoid such a track. Society is looking towards nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to solve the world’s most pressing needs and it is important to understand how hybrid models function in this confusing landscape. Zidisha is hoping to make its clients understand its aspirations and its level of outreach as it continues to grow within the hybrid space.

Entrepreneurship of a Compassionate Kind

Paul in his shop

At age 22, Paul Musembi held a diploma certificate in information technology and is currently working as a computer technician at Mugaa secondary school. He clearly possesses great ambition since he also operates a retail shop. The retail shop was a product of his collaboration with his own mother back in 2009 and it serves to provide customers with goods such as foodstuff, clothing and utensils. When the shop was first initiated, he had injected 10000 Kenyan shillings as his contribution to the business. Overtime, the shop started generating substantial profits and although Mr. Musembi’s mother would conduct its day-to-day affairs, he would relieve her after work and during the weekends. With his Zidisha loan, he is looking to expand into offering computer services. Below is an account of his recent financial journeys through the words of our Kenya Client Relationship manager, Traci Yoshiyama:

Hi, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager.
When the staff of Mugaa Secondary School heard of my visit to Munanda, many asked, “Have you met Musembi?” Purely by coincidence and the inevitability of living in a small village, who do I meet but the one and only Paul Musembi during my visit with another Zidisha borrower in Munanda,
Without hesitation, Paul graciously welcomed me to his shop called Innocent. When asked why he chose the name Innocent, he simply replied, “Because I like that word.” With a savings of 40,000 KES, Paul started his shop in 2008. At this time it was a small kiosk selling fruit, but with the income from his farm and his first Zidisha loan, Paul was able to rent a space right in the heart of Munanda Trading Center. Not only did Paul have his own shop and sell fruit, he was now able to add another item to his stock, plastic shoes.
Some of Paul’s goods

Paul successfully paid back his first loan and is in the midst of paying back his second. As seeing in the photos I have posted, Paul’s shop has come a long way. Through his second loan he has been able to increase his stock by tenfolds, now selling what Kenyans refer to as mali mali. Paul, having a challenging time explaining what this means in English, finally settled on describing mali mali as items sold at a low cost. These items can be seen sold by many of the street venders in Kenya. Fruits were a thing of the past, for although my photos do not capture the plethora of items sold at Innocent, you can be sure to find what you need; locks, snacks, drinks, clothes, toiletries galore, cleaning supplies, jewelry, and of course, plastic shoes. The Zidisha loan has also enabled Paul to purchase a motorbike, which helps him acquire items needed for his store. This has proven to add efficiency and convenience to Paul’s life, for Munanda is quite remote and getting to Nakuru through public transportation can fill your entire day. Now, Paul can come and go as he pleases. In addition to his booming business and new mode of transportation, Paul was able to buy his own plot of land.

It came as no surprise that Paul has also been a spokesperson for Zidisha, often times introducing Zidisha to entrepreneurs in Munanda. I left Innocent happy to have met the infamous Musembi, a client with strong ambition and a love for Zidisha. He wishes all his lenders well and gives a big thanks for all they have done.

Social Business Day 2012

Created in 2010, the Social Business day is a unique occasion to connect people all over the world, around innovation, empowerment, social entrepreneurship and other creative topics.It was held on June 28, 2012, which also happens to be Dr. Yunus’ birthday (no coincidence, this was intentionally chosen!). I remember being a part of the prestigious audience last year, which consisted of social business leaders in the globe today. I was only able to attend since I was working at a nonprofit organization in my country, Bangladesh for the summer but frankly, I was amazed at the passion and ardor these folks had in creating sustainable and effective social activities.
First off, it is imperative to digest the true meaning behind running a  ‘social business.’ Dr. Yunus coined the term in his book, ‘Creating a World without Poverty,’ where he explained it as the new kind of capitalism that would serve society’s pressing needs. Such a business is distinct from a non-profit due to its profit generation methods that are mainly used to expand the company’s outreach, improve the product or service in ways that will enhance the social objectives. This groundbreaking theory was essentially conceived by Dr. Yunus who thought that capitalism was narrowly defined and failed to capture human worth within its financial undertakings. Hence, a cause-driven business such as a social business will address these gaping issues where the purpose of the investment would be to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, since no personal monetary gain should be wanted by the investors.
One of Grameen’s most successful social businesses have come in the form of Grameen Danone, that creates subsidized yoghurt called Shokti Doi. This product basically contains numerous nutritional elements such as protein and calcium and is designed to fulfill the nutritional deficits of children in Bangladesh. Its overarching aim is to reduce poverty and to empower the local people with employment opportunities. Grameen Danone yoghurt was also rated by Businessweek to be one of the 25 products that might change the world. Such is the power of a social business that originated from a simple, thoughtful idea.
It was unfortunate not to have been able to attend this glorious event this year. For the 2012 edition, the Yunus Centre organized a 2 day conference in Dhaka with great speakers like Pr. Yunus, of course, his friend from NASA Ron Garan, Eric Lesueur from Veolia Water. The speeches that took place on Social Business Day 2012 have not been put up yet but this an amusing video created for this special occasion:

Tailoring in Munanda

Stephen in front of Irungu Modern Tailoring

Stephen in his shop

Stephen Irungu is one of our Kenyan borrowers living in the town of Munanda. At 25 years of age Stephen is quite busy running a tailoring business to support his young family. Stephen designs pants, shirts, skirts, and alters them as needed. For all of his hard work Stephen earns a profit of about $2.38 per day. While Stephen is a tailor by trade, he also farms to make money on the side (like many other Kenyans do). If his loan is funded (this will be his second) then Stephen will be able to stock his store with clothing during the upcoming harvest season. One of our Client Relationship Interns was able to visit Stephen last week. You can read about their meeting below in her own words:

Thursday, July 4, 2012

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. 

I was welcomed into the town of Munanda today by Stephen Irungu, the proud owner of Irungu Modern Tailoring. It’s hard to miss his quaint shop, even amongst the many businesses blooming in the Munanda, for hanging on his door is a brown all-leather suit created by Stephen himself. 

In 2005, Stephen started Irungu Modern Tailoring with only one sewing machine. With this flourishing business, he now has three sewing machines, an iron, and also employs three people. It is also a family business, for his wife often times assists with the ironing.

This is his second Zidisha loan and he plans on creating a boutique for the people of his village, the first of its kind in Munanda. With the funds, he hopes to buy clothes from Nakuru and sell it in shop. His passion for fashion is evident, as he describes his store not merely as a job, but a hobby and his happiness.

After my visit to his shop, Stephen kindly took me around his village, showing me various shops and introducing me to friends. He even assisted me in finding some much needed supplies that cannot be found in Mugaa, the village I am residing in. 

Best of luck with your loan Stephen. It was a pleasure meeting you.