Baking Up a Storm

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

David Maina grew up in a small village in Kenya called Mahiga. As a child, he reached grade 8 but was then forced to withdraw because of a lack of funds for school fees. He soon after left home in order to work and make a living in a selfless act to leave space at home for his other siblings. He also knew that if he found a job he would be able to assist his parents financially and help his siblings to attend school.

For his first job, he worked for big farm owners and consistently worked and saved for three years and at that point, had saved enough money to purchase a bicycle. Upon acquiring the bicycle, he was able to sell local vegetables door to door. Later on, as sales started to dwindle during the dry season, he switched things up by cooking half cakes called Kangumus.

In addition to running a business, he is a devout family man, as he is married and also has seven children. Five of his children are currently in school. He and his wife are also raising three of his sisters children as well. When he’s free, he loves reading the Bible with his kids. He also shares that, ‘Through Zidisha lenders I have a house for my family.”

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Currently, in his business, David bakes cakes, teascorns breads, buns, and doughnuts. In addition, his kiosk also offers beverages such as, ‘teas, coffees, juices, and sodas.’ He holds a huge competitive advantage in this area because the nearest competitor is at least 10 km away, allowing him to offer the service of convenience. He explains, ‘I trust and believe people must eat to live. So I decided to bring a unique product. I usually make 1500 to 1700 kes daily and save a third of my daily profit. I use my profit in food supplement, to pay school fees for the children and to buy small sheep and goat and rear them to sell when they are big enough. I also used to give 2000 to 3000 kes to my old parents to cater for their household.’

So far, David has raised six Zidisha funded loans, starting in July of 2010 when he raised $392 to increase his stock of maize and beans. The following year, he obtained a second loan of $710 in June of 2011 to once again boost his stock of beans.

By 2012, David was excited to share his big plans for expansion within his business. In August 2012, he shared, ‘As business is booming in this harvesting season, I am intending to upgrade my retail shop to a wholesale shop for some domestic items such as sugar, rice, varieties of flour, soaps and detergents among others to the customers satisfaction. My premises has enough storage capacity for the new venture. I anticipate to broaden my customers base to include those having small kiosks in the locality since there is no any other wholesale business in the area. Currently, all business people rely on wholesalers in Nakuru town which is about 50 km away. Going by the current trend of businesses around and the growing demand for general domestic items, am sure a stock worth sh 90000 will generate a profit of about sh 15000 within at most two weeks. A second purchase of a similar worth leaves me with a profit/ income of sh 30000 per month. Am confident that I will service my loan comfortably.’

In August of 2013, David returned to Zidisha lenders with an entirely different venture in mind. This time, he was ready to combine his own savings and a Zidisha loan of $1,082 to build a house for his family.

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With a thriving business, family, and a new home, David set out to improve the quality of his equipment in his business. With his following two loans of $945 and $1,217 in August 2015 and April 2018, he purchased a mixer machine and electric ovens. David explains, ‘I want to buy a mixer machine that costs 980 dollars. With this machine, I will be able to mix flour/dough and I will be able to produce more baking products of high quality. The machine will be quicker and will save time, and it will also reduce costs incurred in hired labor. I will be very grateful for I will promote my business to the new era of Digital from analog. For as for now I am doing it manually.’

He also knew that the addition of the ovens would be a smart move for a number of reasons. First, it would allow him to stop using charcoal which badly affected his wife. In addition, the new ovens would be more environmentally friendly. Finally, the price of electricity would allow him to save about 40% compared to what he’d been spending on charcoal.

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David is always at work to make positive and incremental improvements and changes to his business. Taking advantage of new innovations and opportunities has allowed him to excel and become a leader in his local community. In addition to leading his business and community, he is also leading his family well as he recently shared this exciting news, ‘My Ecd young girl was leading in her class, losing only 15 Marks out of 500. That really made me proud of her.’

As one of many change makers in Africa, make sure to check out our Lend page to read about other Zidisha entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo around the world.

A Business Power Couple

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Abigael Nyapela attended Ebusybui Primary School and as she got older, moved up to Ebusyubi Secondary School. Upon graduation, she helped her mom sell vegetables until she was able to save up the money for her own shop.

She shares that in her area most people are poor peasant farmers and that they struggle to make ends meet. However, she continues, “and through all these problems, they still make it in life.” In her business, Abigael sells both food and household items.

In addition to her responsibilities as a business owner she also is a wife and mother to a little girl who dreams of being a doctor someday. She notes that she and her husband try as hard as they can to make their daughter’s future dream come true. Her daughter is currently in nursery school. And while she has free time, Abigael enjoys reading novels and educational materials.

Her husband is also a business owner and has a local computer shop where he offers computer and photocopy services, video shooting and editing services, and computer repair services.

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They’ve even started an additional business together where they have a tree seedling nursery where they sell trees to people and institutions. This has also been a great venture that has helped them to add additional capital to each of their respective businesses.

So far, Abigael has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans and has also maintained a 99% repayment rate. With her first two Zidisha loans of 2015 for $100 and $197, she was able to purchase bulk quantities of food items for her shop including: ‘Tropicana, Jambo, sugar, rice, and flour.’

A few months later, in October 2015, she shared with lenders, ‘You have been so wonderful to me and since I joined Zidisha I have been working towards my set target goals which I never set before I joined here. This has made me to work so hard and keep my promises to myself and trustful with your funds always. Today I am making my 3rd loan request and I promise to repay back in time. When I receive the loan funds I will use the money to buy these items for my retail shop.’ With this loan, she was once again able to increase her stock of sugar, rice, cooking oil, flour, exercise books, vaseline, and bread.

By 2016, Abigael was once again ready for her next loan to increase her shop stock. This time, she successfully raised $613 and purchased some new items such as, ‘bar soap, teal leaves, salt, spices, soda, and cooking oil. Then, in April 2017, she was able to raise her largest loan yet of $916. This loan allowed her to substantially increase her inventory of item such as, ‘Jambo, sugar, salad, rice, bar soap, Toss, Afia, Nuvita, Tropicana, and tea leaves.’

As she prepared for her loan in February 2018 she shared, ‘To all my lenders and Zidisha team, I want to thank you so much for funding our loan proposals hence uplifting our living standards. Through this loan we have been able to learn so much including, how to be truthful, obedient, and responsible person in re-paying back the loans that we have been granted. Thanks so much and be blessed.’

As Abigael has been able to grow and expand her business, she has also diversified her offerings and has been able to stock new and different items. However, what has remained consistent is her passion for helping her community members with the everyday items that they need in their homes.

To update her lenders, Abigael shared, ‘Thank you so much and may God bless you all my lenders for trusting in me and my business by funding me. Your loan funds have brought a great impact in my life as a whole. You have changed everything around me. My business is booming because of your assistance. You have taught me to be a very hardworking person in my life. My retail shop is one of the few that all my customers depends on because of availability of goods which has increased my profits and customers at large. Be blessed so much.’

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Would you like to help empower another entrepreneur like Abigael? If so, make sure to check out our Lend page to read about our other amazing Zidisha business owners.

Outworking the Competition

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Doris Wanjama is a humble, hardworking, Kenyan. Without the advantages of a higher education, she has had to rely on hard work, perseverance, and a keen eye for business. In addition to being a business owner, Doris is also a wife, mother of two children, a member of the PCEA church, and a lover of Gospel music. With the help and support of her husband, she started small with a little kiosk, and over time she has been able to expand. She shares, ‘most people in my area are very social and hardworking.’

In terms of her business inventory, she sells household goods including: ‘sugar, flour, bread, milk, soda, eggs cooking oil, books, etc.’ Doris has found that she has a strong product selection because these are items that her community members use frequently and on a regular basis.

Since joining Zidisha, Doris notes that her business has grown by over 40%. She now spends about $150 each week to add new inventory to her shop. More importantly, her business has allowed her to pay rent, bills, and school fees for both of her children. Then, she also uses the remaining profits to continually expand her business and purchase household goods. As she continues to grow her business, she dreams of employing more workers. She says, ‘Thank you Zidisha and my lender for this great trust you gave to me and your support since everything is running well BE BLESSED RICHLY.’

Since joining Zidisha, Doris has successfully raised 4 loans ranging from $200-$874. With each loan, Doris has gained confidence and has been able to increase her loan amount. With her initial loan of $200 in May of 2016 she was able to purchase eggs, flour, and sugar, which seemed to be fast selling products.

A few months later, in August of 2016, she doubled her first loan, requesting, $397 to purchase, ‘eggs, bread, soda, flour, ugali flour, oil, soap, salt, rice, pampers, tissue paper, blueband, weetabix, milk, and colgate.’ With each loan, it’s clear that Doris has been able to expand and add a lot of variety to her product mix.

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On August 1, 2016, Doris shared this encouraging update on her discussion page, ‘I thank you Zidisha team and my lender for this great chance to significantly expand my business and am earning good return in terms of profit that am able to provide for my family, pay school fees, rent and bills on time. BRAVOOOOH! Zidisha be BLESSED.’

Her following two loans of $595 in November 2016 and $874 in April 2017 were also used to expand and grow her inventory. Some of the new items that she continued to add included: ‘maize, beans, and peas.’ Doris explains, ‘this is to meet the current demand from my customers who have frequently asked me to bring these commodities so that they can buy them as there is available cereals shops and with this demand my profit will have to rise.’

In addition to the inventory items, she also used her April 2017 loan for something bigger, a new fridge! With this loan she used half of the loan ($400) on the fridge and the other half ($400) on food and inventory for her shop. Additionally, she also used $50 towards a business permit paid to the local government.

After requesting this loan she explains, ‘The amount will boost my profit by 44 percent, and enable me to pay my weekly loan as well as catering to my family needs successfully.’

This spring, 2018, Doris continued to update her lenders, ‘Thanks Zidisha team. With the loan I managed to increase the stock of the shop whereby it helped me to increase the flow of the customers thus more returns. This return has also helped me to venture in other investments whereby I have purchased my own plot with partnership with my husband and which I’m intending to finish. This will help in terms of flow of money because all the rooms are rentals. Thanks Zidisha team for the loan, it has helped me to cater for the education of my children through the same business. I’m looking forward to the day when I will become a lender after the continuous growth of the business!’

Through her own success and work ethic, Doris has been able to serve as an inspiration to her children and to also stand apart as a business leader in her community.

Do you feel inspired after reading about Doris? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of similar stories of success.


A Student of Success

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ekirah Kariuki was born and raised in a family of six with her parents and 3 brothers. She attended a local primary school as a child and moved on to Mumbi High School where she graduated in 2007 before attending the Kenya Institute of Management.

In 2010, she decided to start a small business of her own and that is when she started to dip her toes into farming. However, the struggles of capital and access to financing proved to be stressful. Fortunately, she discovered Zidisha, and this partnership has allowed her to continually grow and expand her business while also studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Nairobi.

In the future, Ekirah would also love to get married and hopes to have 3 children someday. She also dreams of purchasing a piece of property as an investment for both herself and her future family. When she has the opportunity, her favorite hobby is traveling. She shares, ‘I would travel over and over again without tiring.’

To describe her business she says, ‘My business entails simply rearing chicks to be specific day old chicks, I usually buy them as young as a day old and take care of them accordingly until the sale time. The reason as to why I chose this business is because I found it amazing that my parents were able to bring us up comfortably using the income from the business. The typical cost incurred in these businesses is buying of feeds since they are usually very expensive. I use my profits to pay for my school fees and cater for my basic needs but mostly I would like to grow my business by expanding and also buying a car for doing business in and and out of town with much ease.’

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Ekirah has had a total of 7 Zidisha funded loans between 2015 and 2018. With the support of her first two loans in July of 2015 and April 2016, she was able to buy more chicks and bags of feed to expand her business. For Ekirah, her business is also a big part of her life because it allows her to continue her studies at the University of Nairobi.

By March of 2017, Ekirah had grown her chicken farm to 700 chicks! At this point, she also received her third Zidisha loan of $287 to purchase 300 additional chicks. She noted that she would be able to use her previous profits to pay for the feed for these new chicks. In addition, another exciting addition was that she was able to employ a man in her community to help with her farm.

A few months later, she requested her next Zidisha funded loans of $437 and $756 in June and August of 2017. With these two loans, she continued to purchase additional feed for her chicks and also used about $400 of the August loan to pay her university fees. Ekirah shares, ‘This loan will really enhance my financial growth therefore making me to be more stable and by so doing I will manage to help the less fortunate for them to be able to grow themselves as well and also expanding employment opportunities to the unemployed. I expect my business to grow so that my profit margins will enhance from  70%-75% this will be like a margin of around $40-$45 and by so doing I will be able to grow myself and I will be grateful. God bless all of you my lenders.’

With her next loan of $857, Ekirah was able to continue expanding her business by purchasing 300 more chicks, additional feed, and with the remainder she was even able to pay her school fees. Most recently, she received her largest loan yet, in March 2018 for $1,133. After receiving this loan, she purchased 300 more chicks bringing her total up to 2,000 total chicks! Slowly and steadily she has been able to create a great business for herself and her family as she continues her schooling. She explains, ‘This will create a good benefit to me as I will manage to cater for my family basic needs and pay for my school fees and to the society I will add an extra employee to make 2. If my profit margin increases I will increase from KES 40,000 to KES 65,000.’

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For Ekirah, 2018 is looking to be a big year! In March, she shared a few updates on her discussion page as she said, ‘Being part of the family achievements and also paying for our mother’s medical bills especially because she is suffering the lifestyle disease diabetes and pressure. Despite all that I have managed to go on vacation with my colleagues so we went to Mombasa for a weekend to relax and have a bit of fun thanks to Zidisha. I am hopeful that my loan will be fully funded so that I can be able to grow to the next level. Thanks Zidisha lenders and may God bless you.’

A few weeks later, she continued, ‘This loan will bring so much growth in my business and also in my personal life as I will be able to cater for my personal needs and also the community at large as I create more and more employment for various individuals. Thanks Zidisha lenders may the good God keep you and bless you as you continue touching lives in various parts of the world am honoured and am grateful. Be blessed.’

Would you like to invest in the life of other female business owners like Ekirah? If so, make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read hundreds of encouraging stories!


The Public Health Ambassador

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Christian Golo was raised in the town of Dambai, a farming and fishing community. His parents both worked in farming, fishing and petty trading and he helped them with this work to help pay the family bills. Christian shares that, All children of school going age have to trek for long distances to the Dambai Township to be able to get access to formal education. Many colleagues dropped out of school due to the long distance.’

However, Christian was not one of them! He excelled with his basic education and continued on to secondary school. Unfortunately, in his last year of secondary school, his father passed away, and the cost of tuition was a significant burden for his mother to carry alone. Miraculously, his mother managed to support him and Christian continued to excel in his studies. On vacations, and outside of school hours, he was also able to help his mother on the farm.

After graduating, he was accepted to Koforidua Polytechnic where he graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Marketing. He then completed his national service in the Ghana Education Service, where he taught in a school. Once completing his service, he gained admission to the University of Cape Coast and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Management Studies. Always a hard worker, Christian still managed a fishing canoe on the side to generate income for his family while completing his degree.

In terms of his current business and interests, he shares, ‘Currently, I have an interest in providing quality health service to people in my community, hence my decision to pursue further education in public health science, where I moved from both rural and urban poor communities to educate them about the dangers of some bad health practices such as open defecation etc. I also, introduce them to some food supplements that can make a healthy and strong life at an affordable fee and also toiletries, sanitary pads & diapers.’

To combine his education, experience, and passion for health in his community, he has opened a one stop shop for people to purchase toiletries at affordable prices. He continues, ‘This business involves buying a variety of toilet rolls, soaps, diapers. Also buying and selling of water, (both bottle and sachet). I initially started with one sales girl, however at the moment, I have four people working and I am paying each a monthly salary. Two of them supply shops in nearby towns and villages and two are in the shop selling to walk in customers. We also supply pads to schools and educate adolescent girls how to use pads at affordable prices.’

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As his business continues to grow, he is able to both reduce unemployment by hiring more members of the community as well as improving the overall sanitation conditions and health.

So far, Christian has raised 4 Zidisha funded loans and with his first loan of $250 in 2016, he was able to take a continuing education course. A few months later, he was successfully able to raise a second loan, this one for $718. This loan really helped him in a variety of ways as it allowed him to pay his school fees, invest in food supplements, and also purchase credit cards and tissue inventory that he could offer for sale. He also shares, ‘I will continue doing my community education and training of our local people about bad health practice, so as to reduce cholera in our towns and villages and other water related diseases. Educating the local people about good hygiene practices. I also intend to buy tissue paper from the manufacturing companies and sell this to communities at affordable prices to let people practices a hygienic lifestyle. During this education I also educate the people to clear weeds in the surroundings to ensure they live in a tidy environment, to prevent mosquito bites so as to avoid malaria.’

His next loan was for $1,122 in July of 2017 to purchase bulk quantities of items for his shop. More importantly, he was excited to increase his staff to six people by the end of the year. He explains, ‘This can help reduce unemployment in my community. Those employed are paid a monthly salary and are also able to provide food, and education etc. to their family. It is my vision to expand my personal business on a large scale within the next two years, by adding different item lines to the products I sell and supply. Currently, I supply toiletries to 15 communities on average with about 1200 pieces of toilet rolls per week.’

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Most recently, in November 2017, Christian secured a loan for $1,580. Through this loan he was able to purchase new inventory for his shop including: toilet rolls, sanitary pads, soap, and detergent.’ He knew that this influx of inventory would be essential as he prepared for the Christmas season.

To start the new year, 2018, Christian shared these words with the Zidisha community, ‘In life if you want to go fast, you have to go alone but if you want to go far you must go together. I am thankful to all those working with me. Your team spirit, teamwork and thoughtfulness keep us going. I am grateful to you all for your support.’

Christian is a natural encourager and uplifter and does a great job of supporting both his fellow borrowers and Zidisha volunteers. He can clearly see the future and his place in allowing his community to thrive. In February, he shared this inspiring vision with the Zidisha community and fellow borrowers, ‘Zidisha offers the greatest opportunity to young entrepreneurs in this part of the world to help them grow their business and pay school fees (educate or train themselves) for the future. Remember it is very important to make regular payments and never default. Even if the repayment amounts are small it is still better than having past dues. In this way you can continue to borrow from Zidisha. With the presence of Zidisha in Africa and in Ghana, in the next ten years, I can see that, there would be more successful entrepreneurs in Africa and in Ghana more than ever before.’

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Were you moved by Christians heartfelt words? If so, make sure to head on over to the Lend page to help other entrepreneurs to thrive in their communities.