‘Kicking Away Poverty, One Chick at a Time’

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Edwin Gitene was forced to drop out of his electrical engineering program in 2010 when we could no longer afford to pay the school fees. However, changing paths turned out to be a hidden blessing as he found a true passion for poultry farming. He says, ‘I was selected to be one of the youths in my county to pioneer a poultry farming project dubbed ‘kicking away poverty one chick at a time’. The project, aimed at alleviating poverty among young adults in my county, involved donating one hen, one cock and two chicks to selected youth.’

Edwin is so proud of what he has achieved since first starting and when he discovered Zidisha he has grown his business to 200 chickens. He is able to supply chickens and eggs to a local school and also supplies eggs in local shopping centers. His expenses tend to include: chicken feed and veterinary services. He is also able to supply local jobs by employing three members of his community. His greatest dream is to be a model poultry farmer in his country and to inspire as many young adults as possible so consider agribusiness as a viable business undertaking.

Through his partnership with Zidisha, he has been able to continually expand and grow his business and has even been able to return to school where he is studying in the school of business management.

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Edwin requested his first Zidisha funded loan for $150 in July 2014. The purpose of this initial loan, was to expand his chicken structure. He notes, ‘I wish to expand and modernize my structure. I currently have a traditional structure that more nor less just serves as a shelter for my chicken. My veterinary consultant has also advised me to do this so as to minimize the risk of the chicken contracting diseases. The new structure will be raised from the ground to reduce  the cold as well as make it easier for cleaning.’ Some of the costs included: iron sheets, cardboard, poles, wire, timber, and labor.

For his second loan of $147 in October 2014, he was ready for two big changes. The first, was a modification to his existing shelter to accommodate his increasing numbers of chickens. He had been advised by his veterinarian that this would be wise. He also needed to purchase a back up generator so that his chickens would receive adequate lighting as his area had frequent power outages which can distort the feeding regime and in turn, limits their growth.

By December, Edwin was in need of another loan for $145. He shared with lenders, ‘I will use the loan to purchase advanced electric brooders. Currently I have been using bulbs which blow frequently and they had been costing me a lot replacing them. Not to mention that I have been losing on average, 20 infant chicks every two weeks due to the cold. With the purchase of the brooders I will be able to contain this situation and increase my productivity.’

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In July of 2015, Edwin requested his next loan and asked for $268. With this loan, he was in need of a chaff cutter. He was confident that this would cut down on the recurring costs of chicken feeds. The machine would allow him to grind maize and cobs mixed with different nutrients for his chickens. In addition, he knew that he could also mill for his community neighbors for additional business earnings.

With this loan, Edwin thanked lenders for, ‘helping me realize more success and improve the living condition of my family and society as a whole. With your help hope is always reborn in me. Thank you great guys.’

As his business continued to grow and expand, Edwin found that it was time to invest in a better record keeping system. Therefore, his next loan, in November 2015 for $400 was for a computer, printer, and internet modem. He predicted that the computer would cost around $300, and $100 for the printer. Before this, he had to travel several miles to access internet services so he knew that this was the right next step in his business.

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As Edwin prepared for his next loan, he shared with his lenders, ‘I take this chance to once again thank you for the number of loans you have helped me raise ever since I joined this wonderful organization. The loans have helped me realize much success and I owe it all to you lenders.’

By January 2017, Edwin was ready to make some big changes in his business by adding a greenhouse. Therefore, for this loan he requested, $776. He found that it was time to diversify his business and while he had already started planting onions, kale, and bananas, he was ready to venture into growing watermelons. He predicted that after four months, his watermelon crop would see a profit of $500.

The cost breakdown for this loan would include: Ultra Violet treated polythene paper for $400 ,a 500 litre water tank for $80, a drip irrigation kit for $70, steel bars at $90, labor at $50, nails at $20, seeds at $5, fertilizer at $30, and transport and miscellaneous costs for $70. Always wise with his money, he opted to cut on the cost of posts by using less metal and more trees that were readily available.

Most recently, Edwin requested another loan in July 2017 for $1,211. He was happy to share with lenders this great update, ‘As planned, things are working out well and indeed I have experienced a good harvest.’ He was able to sell this first harvest of watermelons to both retailers and in a nearby market directly to his community members.

He continues, ‘I have realized that I can still supply more greenhouse products to help feed people in residential places within my hometown. I am planning to extend the greenhouse to measure 75 meters by 30 meters, that is roughly triple the current size. Apart from watermelons I will also plant tomatoes and onions that have shown a significant rise in demand with a rising population within my hometown. I will have the greenhouse subdivided to three sections for each of the horticultural crops I will venture in.’

Lenders and community members alike are excited to see how this growth will allow him to serve his community and neighbors on an even larger scale in the coming months and years.

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Would you like to read more about our inspiring entrepreneurs? Head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories about other business owners who are transforming their communities.


Purity at Work

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Purity Mwirigi is a woman who wears many hats and roles in her life. She is first and foremost a single mother of a son. She is also in her mid thirties, graduated from Katheri High School, and worked in a supermarket for 6 years before starting her first business. Initially, she started a cosmetics shop in Katheri Market while her son was still a baby. She says that later on she noticed that there was a high demand for stationery and textbooks in her market, which is how she conceived of the idea for her current business.

She is proud of her home and shares with lenders that, ‘The uniqueness of my land is that I was born on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and near the Mount Kenya Forest there are so many game parks and game reserves around.’

Right now, her business consists of photocopying, printing, and typing services. She notes that each of these services are in high demand because there are many schools in the surrounding area, and she is the only shop in the market that provides these services.

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With her profits, she is able to pay fees for her sons’ schooling, he hopes to be a pilot when he grows up. In addition, the remainder of her profits are put towards upkeep for her home and re-invested back into the business. It’s through re-investing that allows her to add to her stock of textbooks. She says, ‘I chose this business since it’s easy to run and is in high demand. Education will always remain the main factor in our societies; therefore books will always be needed.’

Since joining Zidisha back in 2015, Purity has now successfully funded 6 loans. She received her first loan of $100 in April 2015. All $100 of this first loan was used to buy textbooks, which she predicted would turn a profit of $70 in the span of 3 months. She has found that the textbook business is a good market to be in because she can receive almost double the buying price in a short period of time.

For her next loan, she raised $189 in June 2015 in order to purchase a printer that she could use for printing, scanning, and photocopy services. She expected the printer to cost around, $133. With the rest of the loan, she would have money remaining to buy printer paper and ink cartridges. Purity was excited by this loan because she knew it would open the door for her to better serve her current customers as well as the potential to acquire new customers as well.

By September 2015, Purity was once again ready to make some improvements to her business. With this next loan, she raised $367, $180 of which she used to purchase primary and high school revision booklets. Afterwards, she would have $180 remaining to purchase additional printing ink and 26 reams of printing paper.

For her fourth loan, Purity requested $550 in February of 2016 to start expanding her business. In addition to her current services, she was ready to add money transfer services. She predicted that this would benefit her business in a few different ways. First, this would allow current customers to access their cash through their phones to pay for their services in her business. In addition, including this in demand service would allow her to retain new customers as well. Purity was able to penetrate a growing market and serve her community in a much needed way. She says, ‘In fact mobile money services are in high demand in my home area since the nearest service is quite far, so my services will help ease the distance one has to travel to access this service.’

The first part of this loan was put towards acquiring an agent number. She would also need additional cash on hand for when clients need to withdrawal money. Thirdly, Purity would need to purchase a mobile phone hand set for the agent sim card. Finally, the last step would be to re-brand her business to include this new service. Going into this loan, she was able to use some of her savings in addition to her requested Zidisha loan.

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In September 2016, Purity kindly shared with her lenders, ‘Hi, may I take this opportunity to say thank you Zidisha family for the continued support you have afforded me. My son and I will forever be grateful for this support.’

For her next loan of $829 in September of 2016, Purity was in need of more stock, including, supplies of stationery, pens, textbooks, etc. With this loan, she also needed to expand her credit line for the money transfer part of her business. The remainder of the loan, combined with some of her own savings would go towards, purchasing memory sticks for mobile phones, renewing her business license, and obtaining more cash on hand for clients that want to withdrawal money.

On April 17, 2017, Purity shared this inspiring update on her discussion page, ‘You have made my dreams come true my dear lenders. With the loans you have given me my lifestyle has changed. I have taken my son to a good school, and I can donate at charity homes. l also encourage youth to start up their own businesses so that they can be dependable. May almighty God enlarge your territories my Zidisha family.’

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Most recently, Purity requested her largest loan yet, for $1,218 in July 2017. At this time, she experienced a large demand for her printing services, particularly, as her country prepared for their general elections in August. She used this loan to purchase, ‘printing paper and ink cartridges, textbooks and stationery, M-pesa cash, 6 months rent, re-branding, annual license, 2 months salary for her assistant.

On July 21, Purity shared with lenders, ‘My assistant is one of the those who is benefiting from my business. She comes from a poor background and she has enrolled for food and beverage courses through savings from the salary I pay her. I have promised to support her tuition, thanks to Zidisha.’

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With this loan, she is optimistic that by the end of 2017 she will be able to expand her business and create more jobs for the jobless youth in her community.

Were you inspired by Purity’s story? If so, head on over to our Lend page, and make a difference in the life and community of other Zidisha entrepreneurs.


A Budding Businessman


‘I still consider myself as a budding businessman but I hope to start competing with the big boys in business very soon.’ As one of Zidisha’s younger borrowers, Ian Ndirangu has now proven himself as he balances his growing business with his academic studies. In addition to running his business, he has also been taking business management courses in order to learn more about record keeping and managing cash flow.

When Ian first joined Zidisha back in 2015, he had a business selling small items such as handkerchiefs and trinkets which was a great side business as he was also busy with his college studies. He was able to gain a loyal customer base of clients as his main source of business.

Regarding this business he said, ‘It is a tough business but I am glad that it brings food on the table, pays for education and even supports my family (my mother and sister ) in a small way. I make an average net profit of about $180 per month since I have few overheads.’

So far, Ian has had 6 Zidisha funded loans ranging from 2015-2017 and has maintained an impressive 93% repayment rate. His first loan was a request for $100 back in January 2015. Ian used this first loan to boost his inventory by adding more variety to his inventory including sunglasses and watches. He felt certain that this addition of inventory would make his business more profitable and would positively impact his life and family.

A few months later, in April 2015, he was ready for a second loan of $198. Because Ian does not have a storefront he must travel to his customers. Therefore, with this loan he chose to purchase a bicycle to increase his mobility. He predicted that the bike would cost $150 and he could then use the remainder of the loan to increase his stock of inventory.

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By August of 2015, while Ian had found success with his mobile business, he was ready to invest in his own storefront. This way, he could refer his steady customer base to a central location. This would require an investment of $359, with $80 in monthly rent, $130 for shelves and other fittings to customize the stall, and finally, $120 for a business permit.

His vision for this next stage of business was to continue with the mobile sales himself, and to hire a member of his community to run the store. He was excited about this because of the great need for job opportunities in his town.

On August 10, 2015, Ian shared his gratitude for the Zidisha community when he said, ‘Hello, Zidisha and all lenders. I am grateful for your kind contributions towards my loan. You have shown how much you are committed in making sure I succeed, I won’t let you down. You have made me the way I am today and I give God all the Glory. I will keep you updated of my progress.’

A year later, in August 2016, Ian said, ‘My business has grown big and I am grateful that Zidisha has been a big part of this growth. I now need a bigger store to accommodate my growing number of customers.’ At this point, he requested another loan for $540. He noted that $250 would be used for leasing a new store and $150 would be put towards renovations and branding. The remainder of the loan would be used to purchase additional stock.

On August 26, Ian shared, ‘Hello all, I am fine and doing great in business. I owe credit to you all Zidisha and the lenders you have transformed my life and a lot of youths like me.’

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With each loan, it became clear that Ian was growing in confidence in both himself and his business. In December of 2016, he requested a loan of $809 to travel to Uganda to increase his inventory of fabric and shoes which are much cheaper in Uganda compared to Kenya. With the end of the year approaching, he knew he would soon see a surge in sales. He also mentioned, ‘My business has grown by leaps and bounds. I have managed to increase my income three-folds in the last year. This is largely attributable to the Zidisha loans which have given me an edge over the competition. Thank you very much for your continued support.’

For his most recent loan in July 2017, he requested, ‘$1,190. Ready to combine his academic knowledge and practical experience, he said, ‘My business is doing well and I now feel confident and ready to diversify it. I want to add sales of electrical items such as installation cables, wall sockets, bulbs etc. I have done my feasibility study and this is one area that is growing very fast due to rapid urbanization of my region.’

He planned to use $650 to purchase an assortment of electric cables and $350 to buy sockets, bulb holders, and bulbs. The remainder of the loan would go towards other items including: wire clips, insulating tapes, etc.

Last month, on July 15, 2017, Ian shared this inspiring update on his discussion page, ‘Hello to all, lenders and Zidisha family. I am always grateful for you have made my dreams come true. I am doing great and my family too, it is my pleasure to inform you that the profits I make through my business have enabled me to pay college fees for my young sister..who is pursuing her studies..and feeding other siblings..Thanks and GOD bless you all.’

Would you like to support another millennial entrepreneur like Ian? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other young innovators.

Riches of a Nation

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

David Kamau Waweru began his career in the private sector after finishing college. He had received his diploma in Agriculture and worked for 8 years before venturing out on his own. Once becoming an entrepreneur he supported himself through dairy farming and general agriculture. While running his business, he was also employed by the government as the area chief in the Boror location.

Through his business, he is able to support his wife and children, including 1 son and 2 daughters. He mentioned that the milk in his area is in high demand as are other farming products. He typically sells his products at retail but when the harvest is good he prefers to sell wholesale because this allows him to receive all of the profit at one time. David says, ‘My customers like my products because they are of great quality and fresh from the garden.’

Since partnering with Zidisha, David has received 4 Zidisha funded loans. His first was in August 2012 where he obtained $500. He decided to use one third of the loan to improve his zero grazing structure with another third towards improving the pasture farm. The remaining amount was put towards artificial insemination. He was certain that these improvements would allow him to improve production and the overall standard of living for his family.

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A year later, in August 2013, he found himself in need of a second loan. This time he borrowed $1,325. With this loan, he purchased a heifer and also built a zero-grazing unit with a vision for the future of constructing a bio-gas unit. He shared with lenders, ‘Let me start by thanking the entire Zidisha team and for my previous loan which propelled my project. My previous loan gave impetus to my diary project. I owe this success to my lenders for faith in my project. Looking forward to my new loan.’

By August of 2014, he was ready for a new project in his business that would complement the previous loans. With this loan of $1,977 he used 58% of the loan to invest in poultry including: chicks, chick feed, drugs, and the construction of a chicken coop. The remaining 42% was put towards the construction of a calf’s pen and the construction of a perimeter wall and slab of zero-grazing. David noted that, ‘Security of animals is important due to increase of stock theft.’

By March of 2015, David was pleased to share that he and his family were all doing well. His children were all boarded at school and he kept busy preparing the land for planting. He mentioned that his hen project was doing well and that he had sold his first birds and was selling eggs weekly. Even with the prolonged drought, his farm was prevailing.

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On August 30, 2016, David shared this inspiring update with his lenders, ‘Hi Zidisha team and lenders. I take this moment to thank Zidisha. The loans I have received previously have transformed me and my family tremendously. These loans, given their low interest, have enabled me to fund my projects. I am looking forward to more loans. I salute Zidisha.’

For David’s most recent loan in September 2016 he requested $2,580. He chose to put this loan towards a half acre of land along the river. The remainder of the loan was used to purchase a water pump and seeds such as lucerne, sorghum, and legumes. He said, ‘My passion is skewed to farming, more so in dairy. This is an area I am comfortable doing, again and again. It is said agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.’

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David knows that life is full of ups and downs, but regardless of the struggles, he remains optimistic about the future. Recently, on April 7, 2017, he shared on his discussion page, ‘Hi lenders. Time has really passed without saying a word. l am well, and hoping you too are well. Here we’re facing the longest drought, many have lost their animals and human food is in short supply. Rivers have dried. Nevertheless I’m very optimistic that the situation will change.’

Were you inspired by David’s optimism and persistence? If so, make sure to head on over to our Lend page to find other incredible Zidisha entrepreneurs.