Why Zidisha doesn’t have an office

37signals just produced an excellent video about the benefits of working remotely:



Zidisha has never had a dedicated office space.  Like 37signals, we have a globally dispersed team who use online tools to collaborate.   Why go office-less?

  • It saves money.  Not paying rent for an office lets us focus our resources on delivering value to Zidisha members.
  • It makes our team more diverse.  We have key staff members in Ouagadougou, Shanghai, Italy and India.  Lifting the location restriction allows us to bring together a much more heterogenous group than traditional location-based organizations.
  • It improves the quality of our team.  With no geographic limits, we can cast our net worldwide.  Those special people for whom our mission really resonates, who can make the world’s most outstanding contributions, find us and join.
  • It improves everyone’s quality of life.  None of our staff waste time commuting to an office, and we are free to work with Zidisha at the times most suited to our schedules.  This leaves plenty of flexibility for other important parts of our lives.

Zidisha is all about making geographic barriers irrelevant.  Collaborating remotely is one way we live that mission every day.

From One Startup to Another

The hot new startup Hatchet and Gear has teamed up with the Zidisha platform to offer their customers a new kind of value.  
Today, Hatchet and Gear owner Lyssandra Allen was kind enough to tell us more in this interview: 
What is Hatchet and Gear?
Hatchet and Gear is a start-up business aimed at standardizing women’s hat sizes and making durable, fashionable hats and accessories available to everyone.

I understand that 10% of every sale you make is going to support Zidisha entrepreneurs – thanks!  Why did you choose to partner with Zidisha?

I chose to partner with Zidisha for two reasons, both of which were posted on your “How it works” page. The first is that, unlike some other microfinance lenders, 100% of the loan goes to the borrower- no middlemen taking their cut of the loan. I wanted to help small businesses, not financiers. The second reason is because the lender- not the borrower- bears the risk of loss due to currency conversion. I know how hard it is to start a business, and when factors beyond your control change to make things harder, it is incredibly frustrating. As your legal note recommends, I consider lending through Zidisha to be philanthropic – a way to help others, not to make money myself.
Like many Zidisha borrowers, you are also an entrepreneurial start-up.  What similarities and differences have you noticed between your experience starting a business in the US, and the accounts of entrepreneurs you have met through Zidisha?
Many of the entrepreneurs that you see on Zidisha are looking to expand their business to better meet high demands for necessary commodities. By contrast, entrepreneurs in the US are mostly focused on technology or fashion- things that are good to have, but not necessary for quality of life demands. There also seems to be less of an issue with marketing or being recognized for entrepreneurs on Zidisha, possibly due to the fact that they live in smaller, more tightly-knit communities.
What is your favorite Zidisha entrepreneur story?

My favorite Zidisha entrepreneur story is one from John Ndafa Nyumu, who went from being a casual laborer to getting training for poultry vaccinations so he can help marginalized groups improve their economic status with healthy poultry. In a world where so many people are just out to help themselves, it is always refreshing to see someone who is willing to help others while improving their own situation.


Thanks so much for the interview.

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of the Zidisha community! 


Visit the Hatchet and Gear online store to shop for beautifully unique hats, satchels and accessories while supporting Zidisha entrepreneurs.

The stuff heroes are made of



By Julia Kurnia

Here is a story that deserves to be shared.

Sammy Kanja is a founding member of Zidisha’s community in Kenya.  He used his earliest loans to purchase a donkey cart and donkeys for his goods transport business.  The proceeds from this business enabled Mr. Kanja to return to secondary school, something that had not been possible in his youth due to financial constraints.  Mr. Kanja has maintained a 94% repayment rate over the course of three years of participation in Zidisha’s online microlending community, using the profits from the loans to grow his donkey transport business and diversify into dairy farming.  Last year Mr. Kanja’s wife gave birth to twins.  Mr. Kanja redoubled his efforts to grow his business assets, looking forward to acquiring high-quality educations for his children with the increased income.

Mr. Kanja also serves as a Volunteer Mentor, assisting other Zidisha members in Kenya to interact with our online community.  This month we lost contact with one of the members he had helped, Mr. Fracis Kiiru.  After several unsuccessful attempts to call, Mr. Kanja went to visit Mr. Kiiru’s home and discovered that Mr. Kiiru had been injured during the Westgate Mall shootings in Nairobi and had been hospitalized.  

Mr. Kanja went to the hospital to visit Mr. Kiiru, and discovered the latter in serious condition with no means to pay the hospital bill.  “I told him i was given only twenty minute to because it was not time to visit them,” Mr. Kanja wrote to us in an email. “He shouted with the lound and started crying saing do not let me sleep here ones again because i have no money to pay for the hospital bill,my wife went away when i reached to the hospital on sunday.My heart beat like a disco becouse i was not expecting to here that.”

Mr. Kanja and his wife decided to sell the two donkey carts and the dairy cow that had been the source of their family’s financial well-being, in order to pay for medical treatment of Mr. Kiiru and of a relative whom they also discovered among the injured.  

“I used the money to tranfer hime to the private hospital for farther treatment,as i am writing to you,he is in good condition and i am expecting to take him to his sister on wenesday as per the doctor,” wrote Mr. Kanja.

Mr. Kanja could have gone home quietly, telling himself that there was nothing he could do to help.  Instead, he traded his business assets, the source of his family’s livelihood and hope for a better financial future, to procure life-saving medical care for others.  

Mr. Kanja may not look extraordinary and he will probably never be on the cover of a newspaper.  For me, though, he is a hero.

You may read Mr. Kanja’s own story in his Zidisha profile page.

You may read Mr. Kanja’s account of his visit to the hospital in Mr. Kiiru’s Zidisha profile page.

Interview – 4 Years Zidisha

P2P-Banking.com, one of the leading blogs focusing on the development of peer-to-peer lending worldwide, has just published this interview to commemorate the fourth year since Zidisha’s founding:

“Interview – 4 Years Zidisha

I have been following and using Zidisha for years. Today I am glad to be able to publish another interview with Julia Kurnia, Director and Founder of Zidisha Microfinance. An earlier interview conducted 2011 is here.

Zidisha celebrates its fourth birthday. What is the current status?

Four years ago, Zidisha launched as the first direct P2P lending platform to bridge the international wealth divide: We linked economically disadvantaged individuals in some of the world’s poorest places directly with individual lenders and allowed them to transact each other directly.

This went against conventional wisdom because it had always been assumed that this demographic could not use web-based services and needed local organizations to serve as a go-between…” Read More

“A great task to achieve”

Most content posted at Zidisha consists of communication between lenders and borrowers.

Here is an unusual example of a borrower-to-borrower message – and a wonderful and not at all uncommon instance of the generosity with which people help each other whatever their means:

New Message: Jane Gaiko

Sally Ndiri comments on Oct 01, 2013 

“Hi Jane, Sorry to hear about you being bed ridden. It is so unfortunate that this had to happen to you when you have such a great task to achieve. I am trying to be a VM and would have loved to try to help where I can as Bahati and where I live in Teachers is not such a big deal. Anyway what we need to do, for those of us that you are our VM need to try and chip in to help you. I would have started immediately but unfortunately I also have a burden on my shoulder as my nephew’s house was burnt down over the weekend and we have to try and help him get on his feet. In fact when i opened your your link I wanted to ask you what I could do to try and borrow some money for him to help him try and get a temporary house put up. But when i have found you in the situation you are in I feel so sorry about it. So I will wait and get in touch at a latter date. I want to wish you the best and quick recovery for your injury. God is with you and will help you overcome your physical problem. I want to encourage you to keep praying so that He may be quick and giving you a quick recovery. God bless.”