The Power of Gratitude

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Emmaculate Ochieng was born on June 26th, 1994 as the first born in a family of 4. She had a good childhood and started school in 1998 where she attended St Augustine Primary School. Unfortunately, she was quickly forced to build her resilience as she had to walk 2k every morning and evening to school as her family could not pay to provide transportation.

Her studies continued to get progressively more difficult as she entered high school. Another burden was that she often lacked school fees which meant that for periods of time she was unable to return to school.

After high school, she became a hawker just to earn enough money for both survival and to save a little to attend college in the future. While this wasn’t an easy season of life for Emmaculate, it did bring her to where she is now.

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With the help of Zidisha lenders, Emmaculate now runs a bookshop where she sells stationery and offers computer services such as typesetting and photocopying. She shares, ‘These goods and services are  essential and therefore they are highly in demand due to the population within the area.’

Emmaculate chose this particular business because in her town there are not any shops that provide parents, schools, and learners with the necessary materials and equipment that they need. She continues, ‘Therefore I decided to take this great opportunity to offer goods and computer services to customers. My daily costs and revenue are estimated at USD 120 dollars per month. Mostly I make a profit of USD 10. Out of this 50% usually goes for food, rent and other basic needs.’

So far, she has been able to raise 4 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $57 to $285. With her first loan of $57 in November 2017, she purchased HB pencils, costing her $1 for one dozen, and then re-selling them for $0.25 each.

Shortly thereafter, she acquired her next loan of $91 in January 2018. As students prepared to go back to school she used her loan to purchase exercise books and Biro pens, allowing her to expand her inventory. She shares these words with lenders, ‘This is going to change my life as I will be able to take care of my daughter.’ She explains that her daughter is in the middle class and with the success of her business she will now be able to pay her school fees comfortably, unlike in previous years.

With her third loan of $137 in March 2018, she purchased 2 cartons of A4 exercise books to keep up with the demand from students. She also expanded her inventory of Biro pens and shared, ‘these goods will help take care of my family, expand my business and pay back the loan since I will be expecting to increase my profit from 15 dollars to 25 dollars.’

Most recently in May 2018, Emmaculate raised her largest loan yet, $285. This loan allowed her to stay consistent with the same products that she’s been selling, but by increasing her quantities and stock, she was able to consistently increase her profits.

On May 30, 2018, she shared this inspiring update with her lenders, ‘Am going to use my loan to purchase cartons of exercise books and since am targeting to supply in a school it’s going to help me increase my sales and improve my living standards. Thank you my dear lenders, I have never lost hope since you gave me this chance from the start and here you prove to me again, once more I do appreciate.’

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Sharing this beautiful quote with the Zidisha community, Emmaculate writes, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

Would you like to help support a borrower like Emmaculate? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of inspiring stories of other entrepreneurs.

A Proud Member of the Zidisha Community

Leonard N 1

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Leonard Ngeno was born in Nakuru, Kenya on April 28 1981 in the provincial general hospital. He began his education at Normain pre unit school. After finishing, he then joined Koinange primary school. When he was in grade 5, his parents transferred him to a boarding school in Kitale called North Rift Education Centre. Afterwards, he continued his education at the Rift Valley Technical Training Institute where he studied Pharmaceutical Technology.

Upon graduating, he received his first job working as a research assistant for a retail census company. Then, he later joined a different company, the Centre for Economic and Social Research before deciding that he wanted to pursue self-employment.

As his entrepreneurial journey began, he divided his time between opening a mini pub, and also buying and selling second hand furniture. He explains, ‘I decided to to delve into this business because of the low start up cost and first flow of goods. I started this business by selling liquor with the start up capital fifteen thousand shillings. And I now rack in around a 1000 shillings profit a day. My profit mostly goes into bettering my current pub business and also buying second hand furniture for resale.’

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So far, Leonard has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans, allowing him to continue to expand his business. It all started with a $7 loan in October 2017 which he used to purchase additional stock for his business. That same month he raised another loan, this time for $16. His intention was to start saving and raising funds to include electrical appliances in his inventory of secondhand merchandise. He shares that his two businesses are quite different as in his pub, product and inventory moves very quickly, and with second hand furniture, it’s a much slower process.

A month later, he raised his third loan, this one for $39. He shared his appreciation for his lenders as he says, ‘This loan will directly be directed into addition of stock to my liquor business. I’d like to thank Zidisha so much since my beer and wines and spirit business is progressive and is a fast moving products business. I’m also a small scale farmer dealing in maize and Irish potatoes planting. Since this is a part time indulgence I’ve been able to invest in grading an planting of potatoes with excesses. That is after the profits from the businesses funded by Zidisha. I have been making at least a profit of about kshs 1000 a day. This has broadened my businesses and my other side hustles. My young family has been able to have a good life since your loans are so flexible and is separated in good installment that is easier to settle than other loans available. Thank you Zidisha again for your help it would have been difficult to reach this level without your help.’

As the year came to a close, Leonard raised his next loan of $66. He shared that he hopes to continue to diversify his pub inventory by adding bottled beer to his stock. He also shared how he hopes to use his entrepreneurial skills to help his brothers and sisters as he details to lenders, ‘I have younger brothers and sisters who I intend to help be self reliant. I have been in business for a while now and I intend to help them start their own business. I intend to increase my profits by adding bottled beer. With my current credit limit it can buy me two crates of beer. I expect to improve with Zidisha. As you can read from my profile I have practiced pharmacy and I intent to leave my current business to my brother when the stock is stable and the business is debt free. I intend to venture into the pharmacy business. Thanks Zidisha once more.’

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In less than a year, Leonard and his family were already reaping the benefits of his Zidisha partnership. Through his businesses, he is able to help financially support his sister who is studying Mass Communications at Mt. Kenya University. While his parents pay for her school fees, Leonard is able to help her with the funds for transportation and books. Through his next loan of $82 in February 2018, he was able to purchase 8 new plastic chairs at the price of $10 per chair to accommodate his growing customer base.

He also shares this update, ‘Hello my lenders, I would first and foremost like to thank Zidisha for their continued funding for my projects. I would like to thank Zidisha because without their help I would be struggling. By funding my business I have been able to make a profit that has helped me be able to help my siblings. It has also helped me to invest other profits in farming. I am now preparing seed nurseries to plant a variety of vegetables.’

Most recently, in May 2018, he funded a loan for $223. As the pub side of his business continued to prosper, he set his sights on improving his guest rooms that he rented out as the mattresses were worn out. With 8 guest rooms available, he predicted that by purchasing new mattresses and blankets, he would be able to receive $3.50 per room per day.

So far, Leonard has successfully shown his ability to pivot and diversity his business efforts. He says, ‘I’m a proud member of the Zidisha family, I have read of many Zidisha success stories and I’m proud to be part of the story. I hope to grow to the level of self actualization with the help of Zidisha and lenders at large.’ Through this partnership, he has also been able to help his family and is hoping to create a legacy and build businesses that his brothers and sisters can continue to operate throughout the community.

If you would like to be part of a story like Leonard’s, head on over to our Lend Page to read about other men and women who are excelling with Zidisha!

Small But Significant Steps

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

“To reach where I am hasn’t been easy but I thank God,” shares Emmanuel Wandiga. As a child, Emmanuel struggled to comprehend why he didn’t have new clothes or shoes like many of his classmates. Even money for lunch was not a given, growing up. The lack of school fees also made it difficult for him to consistently stick with his studies. However, even with all of these factors stacked against him, he was able to grab opportunity as soon as it presented itself. He explains, “I saw an opportunity from a friend of mine who was willing to teach me the trait of Disk Jockey(DJ). That was my breakthrough into the entertainment industry. The difficult part of entertainment is people tend to go for well built brands or established names hence not giving people like us a chance. I live, I eat and dream music.”

As a DJ and event organizer, Emmanuel believes that he is in an industry that is yet to be fully tapped. His philosophy is that a big part of success comes down to creativity and innovation. He continues, “It is a field I have always desired to be in, I can simply say it’s where my passion lies. I can honestly state that the little profit that comes my way is divided into two. One is usually reinvestment and secondly my basic up keeps. I would love for my business to stand on its two own feet in that I get to help others that are either in my position or worse, by creating employment.”

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Emmanuel has done a great job of slowly building momentum with small but well-used Zidisha funded loans. His first four loans were all under $10 starting in December 2016. With his first $5 loan he purchased RCA cables which he explains are used to connect the players and the mixers. His next $5 loan in January 2017 was put towards a new battery for his phone. Since he doesn’t have an office and is always moving around, he considers his phone to be his office. Before this loan, his battery charge was unpredictable which made it difficult for him to reach his clients and vice versa. A new battery has allowed him to keep in contact with clients at all times. Shortly thereafter, he shared that his next loan of $5 would go to purchasing a power bank.

By September 2017, Emmanuel was ready for another loan as he began to plan for the future sharing, “It’s high time I start looking at the future rather than just taking it a day at a time. I really want to buy an external hard disk cable since it is better being prepared. As we know failing to plan is planning to fail. I had gone for an event two months back without a cable, I had to go back home get it and then return to the event hence being late. It wasn’t exciting at all. So to avoid such issues I’d rather have two. One that will be permanently in the bag and the other which will be flexible.”

A month later, Emmanuel was able to secure a $19 loan from lenders which he wisely used to purchase a high quality power cable. After having to borrow or rent them in the past, he knew that having his own would be a smart business investment.

In October, Emmanuel humbly shared, “Looking Back from where I started I couldn’t help but just assuming that everything is okay. Hence the project that I started. Every month I have made sure I visit either a home or a family that is in need of a helping hand. I usually spend a day with them and try to provide some basic items that I might have extra. Expanding my business will really make me do more.”

As 2017 came to a close, Emmanuel raised $45 and shared with lenders, ‘“I am so grateful to the Zidisha family as a whole. I am not where I started that is more than evident and for that I am sincerely grateful. I have come a long way. Truly as it is also evident the music industry is changing. I have to keep up with the industry. Keeping up with it means being hooked and addicted to music every second of the day. For my next loan, I am planning to purchase an mp3 player, Memory Card, Memory Card Reader and Earphones that will amount to at least $50. The main aim for the items is so as to have various mixes of competent deejays all over the world. With so doing I get to learn and keep myself abreast with current music and flow of different crowds, hence maintaining my position and even become a better dj. I am grateful once again for your continued support.”

Emmanuel explained that the extension cable has truly impacted his business as he can now charge his laptop, power his machines, and charge his phone all at the same time. He continues, “I can humbly say the extra cash that used to go to the expense of hiring one is now an addition to my profit. I even got the chance to adopt a child and pay for her school fees. All thanks to the help of Zidisha. We even have a group that is mainly meant for charity cause business has been looking up for me despite the political instability that we have undergone the past four months. Thanks again.”

With his next two loans, he successfully raised, ‘$69 and $83. The first loan was put towards a laptop backpack to help him easily transport his computer and equipment. Then, the $83 loan went towards the purchase of an external hard drive with 2 terabytes. This would allow him to store large quantities of music in a single place.

On May 24, 2018, Emmanuel recently shared with his lenders, “I am the happiest dj right about now. I just got to purchase myself a 2 terabyte external hard disk. I can now download and save a lot of music. I am so grateful to Zidisha and the lenders. I urge you to listen to some of my mixes at mixcloud. My username is Gazza Dj. Thanks again and be blessed.”

For many entrepreneurs, like Emmanuel, the Zidisha and borrower relationship is much deeper than a financial transaction. It’s also about personal transformation and growth as a person. As Zidisha borrowers grow their businesses they also grow as human beings, and as a result of that growth they are able to give more to their families and communities.

Emmanuel embodies this so well as he writes, “I write to Zidisha family and the lenders at large as a very happy man. I can’t finds words to quantify my gratitude. I have to say I have grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined and it is quite a joy since you have played a key part in my growth as a person, as a Dj and also as a brand that I make creating on a day to day basis. I have been so overjoyed that I even started going from one child to another just to offer my services and also have been contributing to their school pocket money. That tends to show how far and much I have grown from the first day I started being part of this awesome family. I am so grateful to the lenders and Zidisha as a platform. I am moving forward. The steps might be small but they do have a significance.”

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Would you like to help other entrepreneurs like Emmanuel make significant changes in their communities? Head on over to our Lend page to read other stories of business owners like Emmanuel.

Planting Seeds and Watching Them Grow

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As the eldest of three children, Rio Dahlil grew up with one brother and one sister in a rural village in Indonesia. Education was important in his family as both of his parents are retired teachers. He shares, ‘My childhood is not really difficult. I passed primary, secondary and tertiary school without financial difficulty. Even though my parents income was not big, we were still considered economically fortunate in our society.’

In his hometown, many people are rubber tree tappers and the economy is lacking development. Rio continues that, ‘Finding a good job and earning a good salary are difficult even though somebody might have high education level.’

While Rio is currently working for a chemical company outside his home province, he has a big dream of returning to his village to become an entrepreneur in order to help develop the local economy.

Slowly and surely, he and his brother are working hard to make this dream happen as they together manage around 17 acres of land. He shares that they plan to integrate farming and livestock and already have a few goats.

For now, Rio has a great balance as he is able to continue his job as a Chemical Production Operator earning a salary of around $446 USD per month, while also growing his business on the side. He is even able to save 50% of his salary!

Rio explains his progress and plans as he shares, ‘We have also planted some fruits and jabon trees, a kind of fast growing tree. I am interested in cultivating this tree since it grows straightly, and rapidly and can be harvested in a sustainable way since a new bud can grow after the main body of the tree being cut down. Currently, we are focusing on increasing our forage production. We plan to utilize the space left between jabon trees by planting indigofera and mott grass. Then we will continue it to space between palm oil tree plantation. My parents have six hectares of palm oil tree plantation. The land is less productive since many palm oil trees are fruitless. I plan to diversify the vegetation within it with indigofera, mott grass and setaria grass. Palm oil trees are planted with a space of 9 m. It means there is still plenty space for forage.’

So far, Rio has successfully raised four loans with Zidisha. In 2017, his first two loans of $77 and $277 were combined to purchase one hectare of land. With this land, he would be able to plant 100 seeds comprised of cemedak seeds, soursoup seeds, and avocado seeds.

Later in 2017, Rio raised his next loan of $515 to be put towards wire fencing for his land. He explains, ‘The periphery of the land is about 320 m. The price of the wire fence is 11.54 USD/20 m. The price of white jabon seed is around 0.38 USD. I plan to grow the seeds with a space of 5 m, so I can grow around 240 seeds in a total area of 6000 square meter (60 m x 100 m).’

As Rio continued to build momentum, he used his most recent loan of $860 in November 2017 to purchase a vast array of seedlings. Then, the remainder of the loan was put towards buying goats, building his shelter, and transportation costs. The seedlings included: jabon, indigofera, and mangrove. He also shares that one goat is priced around 90 USD. A few months later, in February, Rio was proud to share that the goat shelter was completed!

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On May 17, Rio shared this exciting update with some great photos, ‘Hi lenders, these are the latest updates of my project. Planting of indigofera seedlings have been started We will continue on increasing our forage production for several months to come. We will fill the space between the jabon trees with forage and then continue it to an palm oil tree plantation. A total area of 6.6 hectares (around 16 acres) will be planted.’

So far, Rio has made incredible progress towards his dream. With the growth of each seedling, he is able to see his vision come to fruition right before his eyes.

If you want to play a role in helping motivated entrepreneurs reach their goals and grow their businesses, head on over to our Lend page to read story after story of our Zidisha business owners who are both growing businesses and building flourishing communities around the world.