“Bringing happiness to my family and neighbors”

Fellow zidisha members, the team, and my most profound lenders! Its with much pleasure and cheerfulness of heart that i write this post, wishing to let you know that immediately i received this record holding loan, i wrote a wonderful comment, and as i tried to post it, my laptop lost network, and because it was not saved because i was typing it direct, i lost it. Please forgive me.

I got the loan within four days! This is truly a record time , thanks to the faith and trust you all put into me. As for you Ann, thank you so so much for joining the many people who had enough trust in me to push me through the finishing line.

Surely the school uniforms are the main thing now in my business, and as i am a tailor, i am enjoying the art of sewing plus when i cannot satisfy demand, i go to a wholesale where i buy enough stork for the season.

I have just done my shopping from the money you have sent me, and feel good because my shop is now full of beautiful varieties of clothes and items that attract my customers to the maximum.

The motivation i get from all of your stirs up my mind to a level of creativity i have never experienced.Apart from the fact that you help people financially reach their goals, the trust and encouragement you also give are a source of physical and mental revival which brings happiness to my family and neighbors.

My children are now in their school holidays, and the beauty about it is, they are all eager and interested in my business, and are learning from me how to do business practically as they brake from the art of theoretical learning which does not supply the practical business techniques. So you see, the business is not only good for me, but it extends to my young ones who are learning to be self dependent even at this early stages of their lives.

I thank GOD for you all, Bravo Zidisha, Bravo to you my most esteemed team. Bravo to Jason of Zidisha who rely helped me in my initial application of this loan. To all of you i say i love you and cherish all of you in my heart.

– Posted by Teresa Auma Mpetti, Ololaimutia village, Kenya

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Zidisha reaches $1 million in loans

The critics said it couldn’t be done: That a person-to-person lending community built from goodwill and trust could never bridge the international wealth divide.  
 
That people in the world’s poorest countries would never repay loans without loan officers, collateral and other instruments of coercion.  
 
That ordinary web users worldwide would never advance capital to strangers on the opposite end of the earth.  
 
That geographic barriers are insurmountable: a responsible, highly motivated person who happens to be born in Kenya or Niger will never be connected to the same chances to invest in a better life as a person living in a wealthy country.  
 
The critics said: That has always been the reality of our world, and always will be.
 
When Zidisha completed three years in operation with a repayment rate of 97%, thousands of loans raised and countless lives transformed, the critics said that our achievement is a fluke, an aberration.  They said it couldn’t be done at scale.  
 
Today we overcame that barrier: Over one million dollars in loans raised.  
 
This is your legacy now.  You who have joined us as borrowers, lenders, volunteers and supporters not only lent your time, energy and resources to a noble cause.  You made the leap of faith that made our impossible dream a reality, and the world will never be the same.  
 
Irene Wairimu, a beauty salon owner in Kenya who is using her business earnings to put her three children through school, wrote: 
 
“I don’t know how to thank Zidisha because it has made many people’s life to become better and also help disadvantaged families to provide for their family food to the table. Also Zidisha has done best job of getting people together like in one village in this world.”  
 
This is where we’re going.  We will have reached our destination when her vision becomes reality in marginalized communities worldwide, and geographic location no longer cuts people off from the chance to build better lives.
 
On behalf of each person whose possibilities have been transformed by your support, please accept our sincere expression of thanks.
 
Julia Kurnia
Director, Zidisha

Update from the Terrian Academy

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“Lenders, We as Terrian community are greatly indebted to you for the assistance you have given us. Before the loan was granted to us, the lower classes were sharing a classroom, together with both their teacher. It was the same case with classes four and five. Though the number of pupils were not big, it was very difficult for different teachers, trying to deliver different materials to two different groups within the same environment at the same time. It was a major challenge.

The loan which was given to us has helped solve this problem. We managed to put up two classrooms and a small office where parents can be attended to. The structure, though not complete, is currently being used by classes four and five. Thanks to Zidisha Partners.”

– Update posted on April 18 by Theresia Kabiti in Nairobi, Kenya

From Theresia’s profile:

“I am a Kenyan citizen, married with a boy and two girls. I have government training in early childhood development (ECD). I am currently pursuing my national diploma in ECD. I have worked in several private education institutions (Private School) since 1993 when I completed my formal education. My bitter realization was that many of our children cannot get quality early childhood education because the fees charged by these institutions are out of reach for our poor children. This has led to many of our children seeking refuge in other backstreet informal schools set up by insincere business people whose objectives are to exploit the situation. These schools end up either not even paying its teachers in time or at all leading to very high rate of teacher turn over, there by denying the children the much needed continuity and consistency. This made me quit employment from a private school situated in my current residential place. My main objective was to provide this much needed early childhood education to our poor children who were always being sent out of these schools for lack of school fees. I, in collaboration with other well wishers, set up a kindergarten named “The Terrian School”. We ask parents to pay a small fee (KSH 500 or $5.50 per month) to help sustain teachers, who are more of volunteers. We, however, do not send any child away for lack of fees. Our children mostly come from poor parents who are either house helps or working as laborers around the estate…

Since the Kenya Government is currently not funding early childhood education, we saw it an obligation to work to assist the majority of our society whose children could not get better education. It with this background that the idea to start The Terrian School was conceived. The school is situated in Utawala – Githunguri estate. Our children mostly come from poor parents who are either house helps or working as laborers around the estate. Since inception of The Terrian School in January 2005, we dispatch an average of 30 pupils to standard one in public primary schools every year. The parents suggested that we incorporate lower primary school levels and in January 2009 we introduced standard one. Currently we have Baby Class, Nursery, Pre-Unit, Standards One, Two and Three, a pupil population of about 70, and four teachers. Our teachers are working as volunteers, being given a token of KSH 3,500 to 4,000 [$40 to $50] a month, and are motivated by the fact that they give hope to those who were otherwise hopeless. We have tried our best and our former children are doing very well in whichever schools they join.”

 

Interview with Milepoint Founder Randy Petersen

We’d like to express our sincere appreciation to Randy Petersen and the members of the Milepoint frequent flier community for their generous support of Zidisha entrepreneurs.  

During the month of March, Milepoint Founder Randy Petersen offered to enter all active members of Zidisha Milepoint Lending Group in a drawing to win an iPad mini – with a second iPad drawing if the team reached the goal of $125,000 in total impact.  The team surpassed that milestone, exceeding $150,000 worth of loans made and new members recruited.  In the process, the Milepoint group became Zidisha’s number-one lending group in terms of total impact.  

Today, Milepoint Founder Randy Petersen shared his perspective in this interview:

1. Could you give us some background on Milepoint – why the Milepoint community was founded, and what makes it unique?

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of being involved in starting other resources for frequent flyers and about two years ago was approached by a few of my customers to start a new project—Milepoint, with the express goal to harness the social actions of the frequent flyer and create a new brand for frequent flyers with emphasis on helping others and broadening the description of what a travel community is. We still love our frequent flyer miles and points, but we have grown to sponsor educational sessions throughout the year, private events with leading airlines executives and even chartering an airplane to visit Boeing’s factory.
 

2. The Milepoint community is known for its involvement in philanthropy.  Milepoint members have contributed millions of dollars to Doctors Without Borders, Livestrong, The Susan G. Komen Foundation and Kiva.  With so many worthy causes to choose from, why do you believe Zidisha is a particularly good fit for Milepoint members?

The best question yet. From Milepoint we have learned that direct contact is a gift not only when we travel, but in our charitable endeavors. And Zidisha allows us an even more direct form of communication in helping others. Zidisha for us is a new form of pen pals for the future and with this channel of charity it brings giving to a personal level.
 
3. In just a few weeks, the Milepoint Lending Group at Zidisha has risen to the top of our lending group ranking in terms of total impact.  What do you see as the reasons for the Milepoint Lending Group’s success?
 
This is the easiest questions to answer. First of all, we’re just getting started. We’ll continue to create new and interesting ideas on how to  promote Zidisha to our members. As for the success? We’re blessed with a great team captain and with the same passion for helping others as with our other charity efforts, but we’re competitive. In frequent flyer programs we want our upgrades, we want extra bonus miles. In giving, we want the most for those we help. We’re not here just today to help Zidisha, we’ll be here tomorrow  and the next day. And remember, we’re new as well. As we grow, so will our support of Zidisha. Let’s grow together.
 
4. What are you hoping Milepoint members will gain from their involvement with Zidisha?
 
The same thing we all gain when helping others—respect for our fellow man. Charity with Zidisha has names and faces behind each story we are telling others about. That is enough for us.
 
To learn more, check out the Milepoint Zidisha forum.

“Working tirelessly to ensure this initiative is positively progressing”

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Kenya Client Relationship Manager Traci Yoshiyama presents Zidisha to members of the Fountain Youth Initiative

Hi Zidisha Members,

I take this opportunity to thank the management and the members for working tirelessly to ensure this initiative is positively progressing hence supporting more vulnerable people to expand & support their business.

I also want to thank Traci Yoshiyama the Zidisha client relationship manager in Kenya for attend a business training organized by Fountain Youth Initiative. The training was attended by local young people and women from Githurai community. Traci had an opportunity to do a Zidisha presentation and the participants liked it hence they look forward to be members then apply for the zidisha loans so that they can expand their business.

The local young people and women have been trained on business, vocation and life skills on various occasions hence some of them have started small business while others have not started thus they are interested & ready to apply for the loans and expand their business.

Thanks to Zidisha management and Zidisha members across the globe for economically empowering local people across the globe.

– Posted by Josphat Bwire in Githurai, Kenya

The Ripple Effect

“Hello lenders. my business is doing well and my customers are very happy n satisfied with my services. they are happy because since i received money from zidisha i have been able to stock medicines that i was not able to afford. most of my hypertensive, diabetic and asthmatic patients are very pleased because they don’t have to travel to Nakuru or Naivasha for their monthly supply, they get them at my pharmacy. This has reduced their expenses because no transport fee is needed. 
dental problems are no longer an issue to my community because the dentist i hired takes care if that.thank-you for making our lives bearable.May God bless you abundantly.”

– Posted by Agnes Karimi in Kiptangwanyi, Kenya

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“Hope for tomorrow”

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Hi friends,
Sorry for not writing for along time,i want to tell you that the monies you gave me has helped me buy new books, many people come to buy from me because they dont miss any book the have wanted,am happy about the money you gave me want to say THANK YOU FRIENDS. I will be writing to inform you of the progress,but for this time ASANTE sana.Traci has visited me twice and found me very busy with customers i hope,it was good for her to report on the finding.
Now that students are home for holiday, but the form ones are still reporting in some schools,which gives me hope for tomorrow
BARIKIWA
Ann njeri

– Posted by Ann Njeri in Ongata Rongau, Kenya

Visit to Chreserve Arts and Signs

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By Traci Yoshiyama, Kenya Client Relationship Manager

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in and around Nairobi.

You cannot travel to Kenya and miss stopping by the Maasai market; even tourists that usually avoid souvenirs will have a difficult time averting their eyes from the vibrant colors and beautifully crafted products. Hundreds of blankets are spread along the sidewalk displaying look-alike items while their owners hustle to make a sale. Having bought my fair share of knick-knacks from several markets in Kenya, I have always wondered, where do these things actually come from (aside from those bought from China)? When I found out Zidisha borrower, Joshua Ogutu, made such products, I jumped at the chance to meet him. 

Across the street from his apartment and resting on a rooftop to ensure proper airflow is Joshua and Samson’s (his business partner) workshop, the heart and pride of Chreserve Arts and Signs. Much as I imagined an artist’s den to look like, Joshua’s workshop is brightly decorated with paint-splattered furniture, half finished bowls and plates, wooden giraffes, and an assortment of nude soapstone figurines waiting to be set apart from the rest. I caught Joshua in the middle of making one of his favorite designs, Kenyan women carrying water jugs on their head. Like a true artist, he describes it as “The real Kenya, suffering women.” 

Joshua began his career as a curio painter in 1992, employed with African Heritage, but found himself venturing into self-employment when the organization closed. Although making a name for himself has proven to be difficult, Joshua has managed to earn a living through this hobby turned career, not only selling his products to local clients, but also exporting to Iceland and America. Despite having almost thirty clients (including Samson’s clients) selling Chreserve products in Kenya, Joshua’s profit is very little due to middlemen buying their products at low costs, only to sell them at exorbitant prices (Joshua sells a small bowl for 55 KES, while the vendor will sell it for 500 KES). Having restricted access to selling his own products in the markets, Joshua has no choice but to continue with these partnerships. 

When Dorcas, Joshua’s wife, heard about Zidisha, she did not hesitate to inform him about it. It wasn’t long before he applied and became a member. Joshua was able to use part of his loan to buy more soapstone and materials needed to create his pieces of art. In addition to receiving a loan, Joshua saw Zidisha as a chance for his products to gain exposure globally. His main objective is to cut out the middleman and have the freedom to sell his products right to the consumer.

My visit with Joshua, Samson, and Dorcas was wonderful; I’ve already made plans to return because as I predicted I could not resist making custom orders of his beautiful creations. If anyone is interested in doing the same, please do not hesitate to contact Joshua at joshkoguta@yahoo.com. I will also be returning back to Hawaii in June and can ship products from there. Joshua, Samson, and Dorcas, thank you very much for a wonderful day and I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks! Thank you very much for the beautiful bowl; my husband loves it! I can’t wait to see the other one. 

Please visit Traci’s blog to view many more pictures and Chreserve products: http://talkingstorykenya.wordpress.com/faces-of-kenya/

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Greetings from Josephine Nyang’au, Zidisha member and Volunteer Mentor

HI Friends
Greetings, thanks again for the comment am gladly positive and that i know one day i will see you,my, our organization i fully understand this thats why i always say thank you very much it took an initiative put together to help us which i really a appreciate, I sold one rabbit and paid for a child who comes from a vulnerable village school fees, the teacher appreciated and were very happy, that am able to assist, i will post his photo next.I want to thank you so much because some things we are learning from the way our organization conducts thing am happy to emulate you.my mam is recovering taking medicine,and now she can walk a little bit,but i can say that she is strong. I will be traveling to see her on 15 that whole week i will be home.i will also take two rabbits male and female.am excited.
God bless zidisha
Josephine (Ongata Rongai, Kenya)

Zidisha Microfinance in Benin: Spotlight on Nathalie Tchoukada

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By Mien De Graeve

Hi everyone, 
My name is Mien, I am West Africa client relationship manager at Zidisha and I am currently visiting Parakou, in the north of Benin. Benin is a new country for Zidisha and till now there are only a few Zidisha borrowers. Let’s hope there will be many more people applying after my visit!
Yesterday I had the chance to meet with Nathalie Tchoukada. She’s a hairdresser in Parakou and I found her amidst chatting women and hair extensions. Her work is clearly appreciated by the women in her town. She used her first Zidisha loan to buy beauty products and hair extensions and she’s doing well. I spoke with her about the importance of not only repaying her loan (which she’s obviously doing as she promised) but also communicating with lenders and updating them on the development of her business. She promised to post a personal update soon. In the meantime I post some of the pictures I made yesterday during my visit. 

To view more comments and photos about Ms Tchoukada’s business, visit her Zidisha Microfinance Profile Page.

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