10 Creative Ways to Get Involved

Are you looking to do more to grow our community and advance our vision of a connected world where geography no longer holds people back from achieving their dreams?  
Here are ten ideas:
1.  Donate your birthday.  In lieu of traditional gifts, ask your friends to join in making loans to commemorate your next birthday or holiday celebration.  View our new Donate Your Birthday page to learn more.
2.  Start a lending group.  Your group can be for others in your company, family, lending philosophy, or any other area of common interest.  Invite like-minded friends to join.  Check out ourexisting lending groups for inspiration!
3.  Find a loan that is about to expire, and use the Promote This Loan bar to raise awareness of it via email or social media.
4.  Create an account in our new Member Forum and join the conversations about how best to advance our mission.
5.  Use your French or Indonesian language skills to translate a new loan application or member comment.

6.  Join our Virtual Volunteer Team.  Our volunteers collaborate on a flexible schedule from any location worldwide, assisting our applicants, borrowers and lenders to interact with our online lending platform.

7.  Help us bring Zidisha lending services to a new country.  If you reside in or have expertise in a country that could benefit from access to Zidisha loans, talk to us about working together to establish a lending program there.

8.  Share Zidisha’s story with your favorite newspaper, magazine or blog.  Check out our previous press coveragefor ideas.

9.  Read our ebook collection of entrepreneur stories, or gift a copy of our ebook to a friend.

10.  Share a candid review of Zidisha at GreatNonprofits or in your favorite online discussion forum.

“Make this a peaceful day.”

Posted by James Thuo in Nairobi, Kenya

“Despite the recent occurrence of terrorist attack in our country where close to 100 people lost their lives, I feel upbeat because of increased funding for my loan. I call it a silver lining. The bids are an array of hope in all the gloom hanging all over Kenya…

As we were seated with my wife thinking of what we were going to write to you, my wife made a very curious observation. She asked why the world has different kinds of people; here we were trying to ask people whom we have never met to fund our project, a project that we expect to profoundly change our lives, and at the same time mourning the killing of our country men and women by people whose ideologies we don’t even understand. I told her that that is the nature of God. Those helping us are good people meant to touch our lives positively; they are gifts from God and we ought to cherish and honour them. Those killing us are a lesson as to the extent of human rot in the society. We ought reciprocate good with good and pray that the bad people will come back to their senses and stop the bad way. Goodness will triumph over evil.
Make this a peaceful day.”

The Launch of a Career

By Julia Kurnia, Director Zidisha

Our longest serving volunteer staff member, Kara Kaminski, began an exciting new job this month: designing and leading a massive poverty intervention project for Dare to Dream, a leader in developing promising technology-based financial products for low-income communities.

Kara began volunteering with Zidisha in 2011, before we had raised our first $100,000.  Though she was working at a paid job while completing a graduate degree, she gave generously of her time and energy, taking responsibility for preparing loan disbursements and entering repayments in our website each day.  She also took the initiative to design quarterly performance reports, which allowed us to track our growth and portfolio quality statistics over time.

Through her work with Zidisha Kara came into contact with Seva Mandir, a solid community development NGO in India, which had hosted my first internship in a developing country many years ago.  Over the summer of 2012 Kara joined Seva Mandir in executing a vast study aimed at improving the seasonal targeting of food aid in famine-prone areas, teaching herself Hindi to facilitate household interviews.

Despite a rigorous travel schedule and many late nights analyzing data, Kara continued her Zidisha responsibilities while in India.  Day in and day out, loan disbursements were sent and repayments recorded in our website with unfailing accuracy.

Upon her return to the US, Kara leveraged her rapidly growing expertise in household interview and statistical analysis to design an impact evaluation study for Zidisha’s Kenya program.  This project became the subject of her graduate thesis, and Kara continues to supervise it to completion.

I’ve always been amazed by Kara’s extraordinary dedication and generosity.  She has spent her graduate-school years building a level of analytical skills that few others possess, and giving freely of that expertise to (as she puts it) “tackling the world’s poverty barriers one project at a time.”

I don’t know where exactly Kara’s career will take her, but I am sure she will continue to leave an oversized mark on the world, and on the communities that benefit from her work.


Many of the posts from our members elicit the sting of a tear… this one is different than most.

Bornface Omallah in Kisumu, Kenya posted today:

“The county council of Kisumu yester night demolished our business stalls arnd the avenue hospital newly built. The demolition occured in the early morning. our equipment were vandalized and stolen with thieves who took advantage of the situation. I managed to get my printer n table while my computer was stolen. for this reason I request a two months grace period to bring myself back to my feet. I also undrtake to still try and make my repayments even earlier than my due date. thanks so much for your understanding.”

The point here is not the injustice done to this man, but his resilient attitude and determination to keep his commitment.

– Member Forum post by mewesten, 18 September 2013

All in a day’s work

Posted by Karen Gakii in Nakuru, Kenya

“Dear Zidisha team and lenders. I am overly excited to write to you. My business has flourished behond my expectations. Today I am looking foward to a very buzy day at my vegetables farm. I have some vegetables at the nursery, they are ready for planting and I will spend the day planting them with the help of one casual worker.

After I am through with the vegetables I will join my local youth group for a tree planting exercise which is a community based project aimed at environmental conservation. This tree planting project is an initiative of youth in my area. We have formed a group of 25 young and energetic people with the aim of empowerment both socially and financially. We meet once a week to organize our activities and plan our finances. We make money contributions and later bank it in our group bank account as savings. Members are allowed to borrow the money and repay in 5 weeks with 10% interest. This venture is aimed at advancing and strengthening the group financially and also bringing members together. Eventually, we will start a money generating project which will bring profits to the group and also create jobs for youths in my area.

After the tree planting exercise, later in the evening I will go back home to sell my vegetables. Today I am expecting to sell about two bags of spinach at 500 shillings [US $6.25]. and two bags of kale at 400 shillings [US $5.00]. I also have 20 kilos of cucumber which i will sell at 40 shillings [US $0.50] a kilo. After I am done with the vegetables I will go to my clothing business to do stock taking for the day. I will meet up with my business partner to discuss ways of improving the business and also to share the profits for the day. We will also need to plan our next trip to buy stocks from our neighbouring country which is where we usually purchase our stocks in bulk ,

Have a great day ahead.. God bless you.”

Why I became a Zidisha Volunteer Mentor

By Martin Luganji

“This week in my business, has been really hard. It’s that time when, I have to pay my rent .we usually pay quarterly. I have always been prompt in my rent repayment, but this time round, I got a family emergency thus I had to spend the rent to sort that issue. I was expecting to recover the money by the weekend, but it did not work well. Finally the deadline come and past. This has been a challenge, but likely is almost through with the repayment. I have learnt my lesson; I will avoid paying the rent quarterly and start paying it monthly. I did not plan well and got punished instead.
Business, when assessed, over a period of time, one is able to predict the outcomes of specific actions. This is why, you will hear of a certain businessman having experience, to the extend he is able to offer advice to the upcoming business people. This becomes so important for zidisha organization to have a business advice section , to help some of the upcoming business people.
Having said this, I offered myself to become a Zidisha Volunteer Mentor , and am happy to report , I was granted my wish. Thank you Zidisha for acording me this chance to serve fellow business people, so that we can help and develop ourselves and others who depend on us. I and others in this Organization, we are really encouraging each other, and also helping each other . I thank Zidisha for giving or showing us the light . it’s a believe to most of us , that , bigger and better things are coming our way . Indeed one friend of mine , joked/said , maybe we are being prepared for bigger and better things to come, kind of I agree with him.
Thanks and bye for now.”

“Keep on keeping on”

By Lydia Mwebia, Kiptangwanyi, Kenya

“Its always said that do not close the envelope before you proof -read the letter and to my fellow entrepreneurs keep off the pessimists and those who say a thing cannot be done because they we will make you believe you cannot.Refuse to give away your hope until you do it better. once, twice, or thrice is not enough.l know enough is when l accomplish my task,repay the loan and borrow again and again until l smoothen what l say is rough even though it will take time but l am encouraged that zidisha is my partner in this journey…

The darkest part of the night is always the closest to the day,after the darkness there is light and after hard work there is a big pay.each time l have not closed a business deal at times am attempted to give away my hope and l feel l can not fight but when l remember what Zidisha can do for me or what l can attain with Zidisha am motivated to fight back the discouragement,because l am certain that if l keep on keeping on another door to my success will open.i take pride in Zidisha because its my reliable financial partner.God bless you.”

Another Burkinabé Entrepreneur

This month will mark one full year since Mien De Graeve left a comfortable job in Belgium and boarded a plane to Ouagadougou to become our first Burkina Faso Client Relationship Manager.

Back in September 2012, we had only five members in Burkina Faso. A landlocked desert country in West Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest and most isolated places. Literacy rates are below 20% in many areas, and only a tiny percentage of residents use the internet. Experienced humanitarian workers were skeptical that a web-based P2P microlending community could take root in such a place.

Mien had no office, staff, vehicle or even a stipend to cover expenses. Undaunted, she began crisscrossing the vast desert nation by bus and bicycle, using the tiny handful of early Zidisha adopters as a springboard to recruit new members. Each time someone joined, Mien performed a careful background check and thorough orientation – and often sampled their business products, met their family and shared their stories and photos with potential lenders back home in Belgium.

Twelve months later, we have gone from just five loans in Burkina Faso to over 150. An impressive 95% of these loans are repaying on time – the best repayment performance of all of our large lending programs. The social impact of these loans has been immeasurable – especially on the children of the entrepreneurs who are eating better food and going to better schools as a result of their families’ greater earning power. 

Mien’s achievements go beyond the borders of Burkina Faso. Late last year, she began laying the groundwork for our newest lending program in neighboring Niger, ultimately making two trips to the country to negotiate the opening of a bank account and build relationships with early members and volunteers. 

We at Zidisha have an immense admiration and gratitude for what Mien has built, and that is why I was pleased to learn that she has decided to launch her own enterprise in Burkina Faso. Starting this month, Mien is leasing a property owned by the Atelier Théâtre Burkinabé in Ouagadougou, and partnering with a Zidisha member to turn the location into a unique restaurant and entertainment hub. Fortunately for Zidisha, Mien will continue to work with our members in Burkina Faso after hours, while joining their ranks as a genuine entrepreneur.

Please take a moment to visit the Atelier Théâtre Burkinabé Facebook page, check out some pre-restoration photos and share your support for Mien’s new enterprise! 


The new house Zidisha member Siaka Toure built for his family in Banfora, Burkina Faso, using proceeds from his Zidisha loan.

“As we walk this journey together”

“Hi Zidisha Family,
Its yet another vaccination week for my chicks as they turn 3 weeks. This Friday August 6, I shall be administering the second round of vaccine. This time its vaccination against Newcastle disease which is very common in poultry and highly lethal. I will be away in the farm for this crucial exercise for the next few days. I will keep you posted as we walk this journey together.

– Posted on September 4, 2013 by Ngunjiri Ngunjiri in Ndenderu, Kenya

“I will keep you posted as we walk this journey together.”
   This really captures what Zidisha is all about.  People in the world’s most neglected places are no longer walking alone.