“I Hope This Loan Will Change My Life….”

Lucky 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Lucky Nguna is living a life that is reflective of his name, Lucky. However, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had his share of challenges along the way. He worked his way up to high school, but like many students in Kenya, when we could no longer pay the school fees, he was forced to withdraw. Fortunately, leaving school was not going to disempower Lucky from pursuing a great life. Shortly after, he moved to Mombasa, and secured a job as a cleaner in a cybercafe. In this position, he was able to work hard and train in computers. His hard work and dedication evidently paid off as one of his clients gave him a used photocopier machine and one computer. This generous gift was what allowed Lucky to start his own business.

He shares, “First, I operated in a small bureau, in my bureau I did photocopy and typesetting but the competition was high due to many and well equipped bureaus around. The profit that I got from the shop was very low, couldn’t cater for my life expenses. That’s why I was seeking a loan to upgrade my bureau with more computers and stationery.”

Lucky 8

And through that pain point of needing additional capital to pivot and upgrade, he found Zidisha. With his first two Zidisha funded loans of $50 and $93, he was able to purchase an Epson printer to print high quality pictures.

A few months later, in November 2015 and May 2016, Lucky combined his next two loans of $179  and $361 to purchase a computer. Then, the remainder of the loan was used to pay his son’s school fees for both terms. Optimistic about his potential and the generosity of his lenders he say, ‘I hope this loan will change my life..’

Lucky 7

In May 2016, Lucky shared with lenders, ‘Dear lenders, thank you very much for your support in my life. I also thank God for giving you this clean heart for helping people worldwide. The other loan I have completed it was for my Son’s school fees and to buy a new computer for my bureau, I managed to pay for my Son’s fee but I didn’t manage to buy the said computer because my Daughter was sick and I used the money for my Daughter’s treatment. Am very sorry for this but I hope to make it you fund me with this loan. God bless, regards.’

On July 11, 2016, Lucky professed his gratitude as he shared, ‘Dear Lenders, I thank you very much for your support towards my loans, the loan I received I bought a bicycle for my Son and I will buy a computer as I said when I was applying for the loan. You can have a look at the picture I took of my son with the bicycle.’

Lucky 6

In 2016, Lucky made the decision to diversify his business ventures as he pursued an additional business, sugarcane juice. He is able to crush 50 pieces of sugarcane in one day. Lucky explains, ‘One pc of sugarcane is sold at kshs. 35 at our nearby market (Kongowea). 50pcs = Kshs. 1,750/= and when I sell the juice I get Kshs. 5,000/=.’

Lucky purchased his sugarcane juice machine on credit and requested a $538 loan from Zidisha lenders to finish paying for the machine. He shares, ‘I have seen a potential opportunity in this business because it is giving me weekly profit of Kshs. 3,000/= (USD 29 ) after selling 100pcs of sugarcane. My dear lenders please assist me to make my dream true.’

Fortunately for Lucky, his lenders continued to pull through for him as he successfully raised his next loan in March 2017 for $796, using this loan to purchase an electricity driven machine. This would make his work easier and would allow him to make more money. With this loan he also employed a young boy to help him in his business.

Lucky 4

Most recently in February 2018, Lucky raised $525 from lenders as he explains the need for this loan, ‘Am requesting for a loan to buy another Sugarcane crusher machine. The machines costs Kshs. 50,000/= that is equivalent to USD 497 for the current rate, the machine is made in Thailand / China and it is good. I got another place though it is open place same like the other place I operate this business, at old place I do crush 70 pcs a day because the business is doing good in this hot climate, and I hope a new place I can crush like 40 to 50 pcs a day, that can give me a good profit. I hope after opening this small business can help me take care and educate my kids and also 3 orphans of my late brother who died in 2016. The kids are in high school and I am the one who pays for their school fees. So I hope extending this business can help me manage to educate those children.’

It’s hard to imagine the feelings, emotions, and pride that must come up for Lucky, being able to support his family and furthermore, to support his brothers children in pursuing a high school education. The same education that two decades before was taken away from him, because of a lack of funds. Lucky’s life has certainly come full circle and whether it’s pure luck, his name, hard work, or a combination of all three, I think Lucky would agree that these loans have indeed changed his life as he dreamed they would.

Would you like to be a part of a story like Lucky’s? Head on over to our Lend page and find out how you can contribute to a loan that will change someone’s life!


Laying a Solid Foundation

Wahyu 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wahyu Setiawan is an entrepreneur in the field of brick making for building materials. He has now maintained his business for 4 years. He learned the skill of brick making from his father and eventually was able to open his own brick factory.

He shares that, ‘since graduating from school I worked in an automotive company as an administrative staff, but I prefer to work outdoors so I have been learning how to produce bricks from my parents. My business initially experienced many obstacles such as failed production because of the inadequate composition of brick-making materials to the weather factor, but I have learned from those experiences and give me the spirit to try to correct the mistakes that happened and got better. Besides that I also want to earn my own income as an entrepreneur and as the head of the family should be able to meet the needs of my family because now I’m married.’

The area and land around his home is surrounded by hills which provides the perfect ingredients for brick making. In addition, there is currently a high demand for bricks in his city as new infrastructures and buildings are constructed. An additional advantage is that his business even allows him to play an important role in protecting the environment as his business is able to use the waste from other factories such as ash from plywood factory waste as raw materials in making the bricks.

One of the most significant ways that Zidisha entrepreneurs are able to help their own community members is by employing them to work in their businesses. And in fact, this is exactly what Wahyu is able to do. He notes that this is helpful because this way his community members are able to work locally rather than traveling long distances to bigger cities to find work.

Wahyu shares, ‘Until now I have 4 employees to help make bricks, on average I can produce 1500 – 2000 pcs of bricks per day and after going through the combustion process sold at a price of IDR 500 per piece, in 1 month I can sell 25000 – 35000 pcs of brick with a net profit of around IDR 7.500.000 per month, I am grateful because of this effort can meet the needs of the family, pay the salaries of employees and pay the Zidisha installment on time. With more demand for bricks it will require me to work harder to meet market demand and to provide more jobs. My full time employees work from Monday to Saturday each week and are off on weekends so they can take time out to rest and get together with their families. I want to create a comfortable working environment so they can work well.’

With his first 5 Zidisha funded loans between November and December 2017, he was able to buy basic brick making ingredients such as, ‘soil, sand, and firewood to burn the bricks.’ These loans allowed him to meet the ever increasing demand as new buildings went up in his city.

He then successfully raised 4 more loans beginning with a $58 loan in February 2018 through a $321 loan in April 2018. Each of these loans were similar in purpose as he continued to purchase more raw materials including: land, sand, and ash, with the remainder of the loan being used for daily operating expenses. During this time, he was also able to use a portion of his Zidisha funded loan to employ one other worker to keep up with the increasing demand. He was even able to re-pay his April loan faster than expected because of the influx of unexpected orders!

It’s clear that Zidisha and lenders have truly impacted the lives of Wahyu, his family, and community as he says, ‘An infinite thank you to Zidisha and the lenders who have funded my loan. I will use this loan as best I can on my brick business so that it grows well and can pay Zidisha’s installments on time. Thank you for your trust, your help is increasingly motivating me to continue to work better for the happiness of my family and our employees. God bless you all.’

Then, less than a month later, on May 1, 2018, Wahyu shared another update and also detailed part of the brick making process as he explained, ‘Greetings Zidisha and lenders, to continue my previous business update, the brick that has been cooked after the burning process is not a hot temperature anymore so it is ready to be dismantled and sent to each consumers. Bricks that are not ripe perfectly (blackish color) or that are still raw will be re-burned in the next combustion process so that it can mature normally again (reddish color), in this way then no bricks are thrown away.’

Would you like to help a hardworking entrepreneur like Wahyu? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories about similar business owners and the big changes that they are creating in their communities all over the world.

The Solo Poultry Farmer

Owusu Bismark 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Bismark Owusu was raised in a town in the eastern region of Ghana called Suhum. Born in 1988, he completed secondary school as his highest level of education. After finishing secondary school, he chose to start his own business. Initially, he had planned to start a poultry farm, but due to financial restraints, he put that goal on hold and started rearing snails instead. He continued to rear snails for 5 years before moving on and fulfilling his dream to pursue poultry farming.

He shares, ‘People here are respectful. The main occupation in my town is marketing. I really like learning so I used to do personal studies about agriculture.’

Rearing fowls, when Bismark started, he had 100 chicks and found he had a problem. As a solopreneur, he had too many customers and not enough to offer them. Thus, through his partnership with Zidisha he has been able to raise the necessary funds to expand and grow his business over the past two years. Bismark also shared that he chose to enter the poultry farming business because no one in his community was currently doing this which gave him a significant competitive advantage.

Owusu Bismark 3

Through Zidisha, Bismark has been able to raise 3 loans so far, starting in June 2016 as he raised $200. At the time, he was ready to expand his poultry farm from 100 to 300 chicks. By tripling his number of chicks, he was aware that he would also need to significantly increase his stock of feed, drugs, equipment, etc. to keep his farm functioning efficiently.

A few months later, he requested his second loan for $399 which allowed him to continue purchasing feeds, vaccines, a trough, a feed box, and other important items. Then, the following year, in June 2017, Bismark successfully raised his next loan of $557. He was able to use part of the loan to continue purchasing additional feeds, vaccines, and equipment. Then, with the remainder of the loan he was able to purchase a wheelchair and clothing for his disabled father to help care for him. At the time, he also shared with his lenders that ‘my fowls are in good shape now due to that I have got many customers.’

Over the summer, Bismark was proud to update and thank his lenders as he wrote on his discussion board, ‘I really appreciate the way you care about me as your brother for lending me this loan to continue my poultry. I will use it to buy feeds, vaccines, equipment which will help my birds from diseases and put them in a good shape. May God bless you all Zidisha lenders. My poultry is ongoing successfully thanks to Zidisha lenders.’

Then, at the end of 2017, on December 20 he excitedly shared, ‘The loan help me to buy 20 bags of feed for my poultry.’

Would you like to impact a family or community like Bismark’s? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read about other business owners in Africa  and around the world who are using entrepreneurship to change their communities.


Playing the Long Game

Elizabeth Raya 3

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As the youngest child of Joseph Raya and Rachael Umazi, Elizabeth Raya started her education at Mazeras Primary School in Kenya. Afterwards, she moved on to continue her education at Mazeras Polytechnic where she studied dressmaking and tailoring. Once she graduated, she began her working life as a machine operator in a textile company in her hometown of Mazeras, where she continued working from 2003-2009. During that time, she conceived of her current business which is selling fish.

Elizabeth saw a clear hole in the market with this business opportunity as she shares, ‘Many people here at Mazeras are working in companies so they have no time to fry fish for themselves so when they come out from their job they just pass buy buying fried fish and go home for lunch or supper.’ In addition, she saw this as a business that would do well because of the high population. With this business, she is able to make a nice profit that allows her to support her family and pay school fees for her children, as her children would like to be doctors when they grow up! Even as a busy entrepreneur and mother, she still loves to ride her bicycle when she gets the chance.

One of the amazing aspects of Zidisha is that some entrepreneurs choose to raise funds to not only grow their existing businesses but to also pivot or to try starting a second or third business as well. As our world continues to change, many people find that relying on one single income stream can be both stressful and often unrealistic. This way, if one income stream is either seasonal or has a poor month or period, you are not completely reliant on one source of income to pay your bills or feed your family.

And this is exactly where Elizabeth’s story continues. In addition to operating her business selling fish, she also envisioned building a house that could serve as a rental property creating a steady stream of income. While she knew that there would be a significant amount of upfront costs and work, she had a vision that the long-term benefits would outweigh the initial costs.

So far, she has raised seven Zidisha funded loans to assist her in the building of her rental property. These loans range from $22 to $1,523 and span from October 2016 through April 2018. With her first three loans, all under $65, she was able to start the building process by purchasing building sand, building stones, building chips, cement, and iron sheets.

By the summer of 2017, she was making steady progress with the house and raised her next two loans used to purchase 30 pieces of iron sheets, timbers for roofing, additional cement and building stones, nails, and money to set aside for labor costs. Shortly thereafter, in August, with a Zidisha funded loan of $1,120, she was ready to purchase doors, windows, and more cement.

Then, on August 27, she excitedly shared, ‘Tenants are asking for rooms meaning that immediately after the house is finished I will get tenants.’ Then, a few months later, in November she also commented that, ‘My business is doing quite well.’

In March 2018, Elizabeth was proud to share this update with her lenders, ‘Dear lenders, l purchased windows and doors for my rental house. I now want to fix them and do the finishing for my rental house. I expect to get 60$ per month. I also used part of the loan to my business and I used the increment to pay school fees for my children. My family is now happy to see the house is almost complete and they are not missing school because of school fees. I say thank you to all lenders and the entire Zidisha team.’

Elizabeth Raya 1

Most recently, In April 2018, she secured her largest loan yet, $1,523 to purchase additional building materials, build a pit latrine, connect water to the house, and connect electricity to the house.

Often in life, people are looking for a shortcut, or the fastest path to success. Unfortunately, it’s often the long game that is the most fruitful. While it’s been a long journey for Elizabeth maintaining a business and her building project with her rental property, it appears that all of the work and dedication will soon be paying off for her.

Elizabeth Raya 2

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Elizabeth? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read about the rest of our inspiring borrowers!