The Future is Very Bright with Zidisha

Stephen A

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Stephen Appiah Karikari was born and raised in Ahenbronoso, Ghana, where he had to work incredibly hard to earn an education. As the son of a peasant farmer, he had to ride his bicycle to nearby towns to attend school. After completing secondary school, he passed his exams with distinction, and moved on to Prempeh Senior High School. In addition to his studies, he engaged in trading and selling to ease the financial burden that his family carried to pay his fees and purchase his textbooks. Eventually, he completed his high school education and passed his exams. After graduating, he purchased two acres of land to start his own farm in order to help support the family and raise funds for his university tuition.

Stephen A 11

He shares, ‘It wasn’t easy at first where I had to wake up early sometimes as early as 4 am dawn to prepare for farm work. I had no means of transportation and I had to walk on foot before I could get to the farm. This was my justification for waking up early at dawn because I had to start farm work before sun rise because farm work really becomes more difficult when the sun is up. Sometimes I don’t go to my farm but instead visit other farmers farms and help them in their farm work. By doing this, they also in turn visit my farm and help me with most of the very difficult work that I can’t do alone by myself.’

He has a vision for the future of becoming an educated agriculturist, researching crops and being well versed in the best and latest farm practices to boost his yields. He’s found that most farmers in his community use old, traditional methods, and thus, many of them are unable to make a profit.

Stephen A 7

Right now in his business he sells farm produce including: tomatoes, pepper okra, garden eggs and onions. On specific days of the week he visits market days in nearby towns and villages selling his produce. He decided on vegetables after doing some research on various products. He concluded that vegetables would not require large plots of land and would be simple and easy to grow. In addition, he has also started to establish a small cassava to gari processing unit to help address the problem of cassava spoilage in his community.

Stephen A 7

When he’s not busy learning or working he loves going for walks in the woods and listening to the birds chirping.

In November 2016, Stephen secured his first Zidisha funded loan of $20 which he used to supplement his income to to pay his university tuition.

Several months later, he was ready to start the new year well. With a second loan of $29 in January 2017, he purchased some simple irrigation tools. He noted that these tools enabled him to continue farming vegetables during the dry season. In Ghana, the prices of vegetables are very high during the dry season due to low rainfall and overall production. He predicted that these tools would allow him to remain competitive.

For this third Zidisha funded loan of $139, he purchased a mechanical sprayer, an NPK fertilizer, and farm boots. Stephen mentioned that the sprayer would be extremely helpful with pesticide and herbicide application for his crops. In addition, the fertilizer would be beneficial in boosting his vegetable yield.

In June of 2017, he requested his most recent loan of $227 to purchase a piece of land. Additionally, he purchased cement building blocks, plywood, wooden boards, and metal nets. With these materials he was prepared to venture into cassava processing.

On November 22, 2017, Stephen proudly shared on his discussion page, ‘my cassava farm is doing very well and ready to provide raw materials for my processing unit.’ He also stated, ‘this is a picture of GARI, which will be the end product of my cassava processing. it a very widely consumed food across Africa. it has a high demand and people who are involved in gari business are very successful.’

Through his hard work and the assistance of the Zidisha lenders and community he confidently shares that, ‘The future is very bright with Zidisha.’

Stephen A 2

Stephen and his sisters.


If you would like to help empower another entrepreneur like Stephen, make sure to check out our Lend page to read about our other resilient borrowers.

Meeting the Needs

Yaa 2

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Yaa Agyapong Agyeiwaa was born and raised in a small village in eastern Ghana. Once she finished secondary school, she was forced to learn a trade because her parents couldn’t afford to continue her education. However, she used this as an opportunity to open her own business, an internet cafe. Within the business she operates 5 computers, and a photocopy machine. She also sells stationery items as her shop is located near a local school. She notes that students often frequent her shop to purchase books, do research on the computers, and use her photocopying services.

While Yaa is not busy operating her shop or spending time with her 9 year old daughter, she loves watching movies, listening to the news, and watching football. She excitedly shares, ‘This business is helping me take care of myself and my daughter. I am also planning to continue my education at the appropriate time.’ She is also doing her best to save for her daughter’s education as she has already decided that she would like to be a lawyer someday.

For Yaa, Zidisha has been a huge catalyst in allowing her to expand and grow her business. Back in April 2016, she acquired her first Zidisha funded loan of $150 and set out to buy a new generator. Because of the power crisis that Ghana was experiencing, prior to purchasing the generator, business had slowed. She was also aware that some of her competitors had generators of their own and she knew that in order to remain competitive, a generator was a necessary next step.

Shortly thereafter, she requested her second Zidisha funded loan of $318 and set out to expand her business by adding books, pens, mathematical sets, crayons, exercise books, and pen drives to her inventory. She also decided to purchase small snack and food items including: milo, sugar, Nido, biscuits, and toffees. This would allow her to be a one stop shop for many of the students that frequented her business.

Yaa 1

For her third loan, she obtained $302 in January 2017 to restock her shop with many of the items that she purchased in her previous loan. A few months later, in May 2017, she requested a $422 loan to purchase textbooks and beginner reading books for the local students to purchase. She enthusiastically shares that, ‘The benefit I will get from this is interest and the opportunity to serve my customers well.’

In May, Yaa was proud to share this update with her lenders, ‘This has really help me to save little by little towards my daughters education and expansion of my business in the near future by selling in wholesale. In fact my family is very proud of me for the changes Zidisha has brought into my life. My little girl is also happy that her mother’s business is growing big eventually. My earnings have increased unlike the previous days. I have been saving little by little towards my child’s education. Thanks to Zidisha.’

Most recently, she obtained her largest loan yet in October 2017. She requested $715 to expand her inventory of both large and small notebooks. She also set out to purchase boxes of blue, black, and red pens, additional mathematical sets, paper for photocopying, and scientific calculators.

Yaa 3

On November 6, Yaa shared this message on her discussion page, ‘This is to thank my lenders again for this privilege. In fact with the help of Zidisha I have seen great changes in my life especially concerning my little girls education.’

Would you like to positively impact the life of a Mom and business owner like Yaa? Head on over to our Lend page to read about other incredible entrepreneurs who are building both successful business and thriving families.


Raising a Family

Mathew Osilo 1

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mathew Ogombo Osilo was born in Mutumbu, Kenya and was given a great deal of responsibility from a young age. Born as a the second child into a family of six children, his parents struggled to support their large family. He completed two years of high school but was then forced to drop out because he needed to work to help support his mother and younger siblings.

It was during this time, that Mathew experienced his first taste of entrepreneurship as he started his own vegetable garden. He openly shares that, ‘My dad’s failure to provide adequately for our young family led us to lead miserable lives.’ Then, beginning in 2004, tragedy after tragedy seemed to strike the family. First, he lost his parents and then in 2006 his elder brother passed away, leaving Mathew as the eldest member of the family. Since then, Mathew has been responsible for being the sole financial provider for the family.

Mathew Osilo 3

Knowing that his vegetable garden alone would not be enough, Mathew began to brainstorm other ideas to help supplement his family income. He decided on a bodaboda (motorbike transport) business. Fortunately, he discovered Zidisha and through the help of Zidisha lenders, he has been able to expand and grow his business.

Last year, in October 2016, he acquired his first loan of $22 to improve the appearance of his motorbike. Since he had been borrowing a motorbike, the owner was not willing to pay for any improvements and this was something Mathew had to do himself. With this Zidisha loan he was able to purchase a nice leather cover for the bike. He hoped that this would make the bike more attractive and comfortable for customers.

A few months later, he was ready for his next loan of $44 in December 2016. This time he set out to purchase new tires for the bike as well as an umbrella to shield his customers during hot or rainy weather. Then, in February 2017, he required a loan of $43 to keep the bike in good running condition through the purchase of a new battery and tubes.

By April 2017, Mathew was ready for a new loan of $76 to purchase rims for his bike. He noted that this would allow him to ‘operate smoothly without breakdowns hence increase my income. At the same time avoids delays when needed by customer. Our roads are in bad conditions so we need to do maintenance every month.’ He was also excited to say, ‘I congratulate the Zidisha family for their continued support to the vulnerable in society. Since I joined my family has benefited a lot.’ He also found that after adding the rims his income tripled!

Mathew Osilo 4

In July, Mathew asked for a $146 Zidisha funded loan to assist him in the farming side of his business. He shares, ‘I intend to buy a chopper machine for cutting and milling Nappier grass for my livestock. From the little income I bought some cattle for milk and domestic use such as ploughing, transport etc. The machine will make my work easier and also increase production hence make me able to pay back the loan. It also helps in the drought season you prepare the hay in advance to avoid low production during the season. It’s also cheap and less time consuming.’

In September 2017, he requested his most recent Zidisha funded loan of $314 to purchase a sheller machine to help him remove maize from the maizecobs. He knew that this would save him an immense amount of time. For example, he shared that the machine can shell one sack in 20 minutes while this would take 10 hired people a whole day. He also predicted that he would be able to rent out the machine to other farmers in his community.

Mathew Osilo 2

Recently on November 7, Mathew enthusiastically shared on his discussion page, ‘Dear lenders I take this opportunity to thank you for the great work transforming our lives through financial support. I did buy sheller machine. It helped me to do my work faster and finish in good time waiting for market. I also hired it to other farmers and made little income while helping the community. From the income and sales of the produce I managed to pay my loan. Be blessed for your continued support.’

Would you like to provide a loan to an entrepreneur like Mathew? Head on over to our Lend page to help business owners thrive all over the world.

Selling an Experience

Evans Omari 2

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Evans Omari is a twenty-seven year old Kenyan with diplomas in Sales and Marketing, Graphic Design, and Computer Applications. He previously worked as a Marketing Executive for an insurance company and later joined a workshop company as a Marketing Manager. After two years in this position, he was ready to break out to work for himself full-time. While working his previous jobs, he started his business on the side and used his income from his job to help fund his business venture which his wife managed.

In addition to running his business, he is also an elected official for the Embakasi District. He won the position in 2010 and while it has had its ups and downs, he is excited about the work and programs that they are implementing to help the youth in his community with issues such as, ‘drug abuse, the importance of peace, rights, and becoming self-reliant.’

In his business, he offers a variety of computer related services including: computer classes, photography, computer maintenance and mpesa services. He is also continuing to expand his IT and Resource center as well. He chose this particular business both because of his background in computer science, marketing, and design but also because he felt a real need in the community for these services. His typical expenses include: electricity, food, rent, clothing, maintenance, salaries, and stock. With his profit he is also able to re-invest in the business to purchase better computers and offerings. He says, ‘I also believe that a customer will only buy a satisfaction but not a thing.’ Rather than just a service, Evans is offering his customers a great overall experience.

In January of 2015, Evans secured his first Zidisha funded loan of $50. With this initial loan, he purchased two webcams which would allow his customers to connect with their friends and relatives via skype. He predicted that this would also result in an increase of 20%-25% in profit.

Later that same year, Evans was ready for his next Zidisha loan. With $48 from lenders he purchased one CPU. Having a Zidisha loan to fund his business growth also alleviated some of the fear and worry that came from using all of his personal money to fund expansion.

A month later, in September of 2015, he discovered another need in his community, an increase in demand for passport photos. To make this happen, he raised $126 to purchase a Nikon camera. In terms of profit, he found that taking passport photos would require minimal effort on his part, and would still provide a nice return.

Evans Omari 3

As 2015 came to a close, Evans remained full of inspiration and ideas for growing his business. His next move was a $282 Zidisha funded loan to purchase an Epson printer for his photo services. While he already owned one printer, he knew that securing a second would allow him to take one with him while shooting wedding or Church photos, keeping the other printer back at his cyber cafe for customer use.

Evans Omari 7

In March 2016, he was ready to take the next step in his cyber cafe by adding 5 new computers. For this purchase he raised $658 in Zidisha funds. This would benefit his customers by allowing them to access a computer immediately rather than waiting in line for one to become available. He also decided that it would be helpful for his customers if his cafe carried resource materials such as the local paper to stay on top of events and opportunities.

Most recently, Evans raised his largest Zidisha funded loan to date of $1,659 in July 2017. With this loan, he was able to purchase an A3 printer which would be used to print posters, programs, and brochures. In July, Kenya was preparing for their election season and many candidates were coming to Evans to print their posters and materials.

Evans Omari 1

On July 11, 2017, Evans enthusiastically shared on his discussion page, ‘I can proudly stand before anybody and confess that Zidisha has really uplifted my financial status. Currently am earning good profit that enables me to meet all my expenses and pay my loan back. Thank you great lenders and Zidisha team.’

Evans recently shared with lenders, ‘I purchased A3 printer which has really seen me grow financially. Currently am able to print all types of documents for churches, schools, colleges and many events hence making a lot of profit. The increased profit have started plans of opening another branch by buying more computers and also securing the room where I will run the branch. My family is doing well, and my first son just graduated to class one. Many thanks to my lenders and the Zidisha team for trusting me.’

Evans Omari 8

Never afraid to share his gratitude with the Zidisha community and lenders, he continues, ‘I must confess to everybody that the steps I have made financially are because of my lenders and the Zidisha team.They trusted me and agreed to uplift me. Everything is working well. It is through Zidisha that I am determined to achieve what God has planned for me. My business is doing well and am earning good profit that has enabled me add more services in my business hence earning more profit. Am happy that my children are schooling well without any fee problems. Thank you’

Were you moved or inspired by Evans story? Make sure to head over to our Lend page to read about our other incredible entrepreneurs all over the world!