Job Creation in the Village

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Simon Munyua has always been able to distinguish himself from others, through his impressive work ethic. As a young boy, he would work for his neighbors during school holidays and would cut grass and do weeding. Thinking towards the future, he would set aside 10% of his earnings into a cash box because he was too young at the time to open a bank account. He continued to save until he was 18 years old. By that time, he had saved enough money to purchase his first computer. With the computer, he was able to start a work from home business typing assignments for his classmates. He continued his process of saving 10% of his earnings and was eventually able to replace his first computer with a new one.

So far, he has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans and he shares, ‘So far with Zidisha things have been looking good. I am very grateful and thus would request for funding to continue with the farming business as we head to the rainy season.’

Simon has been able to carry his work ethic into adulthood as he now simultaneously runs two businesses, a cyber services business as well as a farming business.

In his cyber business he sells photocopy services, computer repairs, and stationary items. He is able to provide these services to the local schools, which means that they can access these services close to the schools rather than traveling long distances.

Within the cyber business, Simon’s typical expenses are: water and electricity bills, the cost of internet, salary, and rent. As a child and young man, Simon had used the saving of 10% rule to invest in himself and his future. Now, he has carried on that habit to invest in others as he donates 10% of his profits to his local church. In his limited free time, he loves swimming and watching motorsports.

Simon first began his journey with Zidisha in November 2015, which started with a loan of $150. This loan was used to purchase a new computer and additional stock of stationary. He was able to combine this loan with some funds that he already had in savings. He was excited about this new computer, as it would allow him to better serve his customers.

His second loan of $150 in January 2016, was put towards the farming business. He used this loan to pay for, farm tilling, purchasing tree seedlings, fencing, and transport costs. Simon was also excited about expanding his farming business as it would create new job opportunities for members of his community.

In 2016, Simon was able to raise two Zidisha funded loans, totalling $757. To expand his farming operation, he was abe to inject funds towards trench digging, buying seed and fertilizer, spraying, bags, purchasing land, and expanding his workforce. Simon proudly shared, ‘There will be job creation in the village.’

For 2017, Simon was once again, thinking big, and ready to make changes as he shared, ‘I want to expand the farming of potatoes to fruit farming as well. I have identified the fruits to plant being tree tomatoes, plums and apples as they do well in cold regions where the farm is located. Each seedling goes for 100 each and  I would like to start with 10 seedlings of each plant. This shall directly increase income into the farming business in a few years once the trees mature since the demand for fruits is high and a ready market awaits in local shops and supermarkets. After buying the fruits I shall need to pay someone for sometime for daily maintenance of the fruit trees to take care of them to water and regular pruning of the trees. I shall also be required to setup a chain link fence in order to keep of trespassers out of the farm completely.’

He also shared his upcoming plans for his cyber business as he explains, ‘For the cyber cafe business I want to finish up renovations at the cyber cafe as well as increase the number of computers from 6 to 8. I would also purchase a small digital camera to allow me to be taking passport photos and printing for our customers. I expect an increase of cash flow from both ventures of about 70-80 percent as both streams of income shall complement each other.’

As things continued to go well for Simon throughout 2017, he continued to dream big for 2018. With his most recent loan of $2,156 in June 2018, he is ready to double his farming business to 2 acres. This includes purchasing: ‘additional seed, fertilizer, labor, land preparation, fruit frees, and spraying and top dressing.’ Once again, he was excited that by expanding his farming operation again, he would be able to employ even more locals.

Earlier this summer on June 23, Simon shared this beautiful update with his lenders. ‘Dear zidisha lenders, Thanks for the previous loan, My project was a success. I managed to harvest over 25 bags of potatoes. The income I received from the project I have been able to expand the venture up to 2 acres of potatoes. I am getting the land ready and I know the loan shall come in handy to buy farm input supplies such as fertilizer and to buy additional potatoes seed.

The expansion of the business has also helped the community as I have added more workers from the neighbouring community.’

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If you were inspired by Simon’s story, make sure to head on over to our Lend page to find other lenders like Simon who are using their businesses to see their communities thrive.

The Future Looks Bright

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Angela with her mother

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Angela Warui was the third born in a family of six, attending a girls boarding primary school and later secondary school and then Egerton University – Njoro Campus. She graduated with a BSc. in Natural Resources Management. Four years after graduating, she was fortunate enough was to be employed in an Environmental Consultancy Firm. This was a great opportunity for her as she gained skills in using MS Word, MS Excel, photocopying, binding and lamination. She also developed the ability to type at 50 words per minute.

To describe her work, she explains, ‘I am registered by the National Environment Management Authority to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments and Environmental Audits for proponents who would like to start any kind of development.’ This job has been an amazing stepping stone for Angela as it has allowed her to save some money to start her own business.

In her business she offers both printing and photocopy services. To get started, she was able to purchase a desktop computer and printer from her savings and through the help of family and friends. She also has two young children, and she hopes that through watching her, they are able to learn from her example and become independent adults when they grow up.

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In her business, she has also been able to to hire a young man to assist her with the business, thus creating an employment opportunity within her community. He is able to help her with errands, delivering reports to clients, and Angela has also been teaching him banking and other office duties.

In addition to her business, she also has a passion for talking with and helping women, especially in the areas of management environmental issues.

Since starting with Zidisha in 2016, Angela has successfully raised 9 loans ranging from $10 when she first started to $1,569. With her first $10 loan, she bought 3 reams of photocopy paper. Then, three months later, with her second loan, this one for $20, she purchased more printing papers. She also shared that with the profits from the first loan, she was able to buy a binding machine, binding covers, spiral binders, tape, and a big stapler.

By the time she was ready for her third loan, in June 2016, she was prepared to save. She shares, ‘I will save save save the proceeds in order to buy a photocopy machine. Currently I have to turn away clients who want to photocopy in bulk (more than 10 pages) because I have to use my EPSON L210 which is slow. Very very slow. I also wish to employ an assistant as I am sometimes overwhelmed with the work that I get.’

By saving and putting aside money, by October 2016, she was finally able to purchase her photocopy machine, along with the help of a $321 Zidisha funded loan. Things fell into place perfectly as her friend wanted to upgrade her photocopy machine and was willing to sell the old model to Angela.

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Angela’s Family

In April 2017, Angela found herself ready for a larger loan, of $649  and then another in August, $1,322 to make some big changes in her business. First, she decided to start purchasing her paper in bulk, as this allowed her to get a much better price. She also knew that she needed to start saving for an upcoming school trip for her children. Third, she wanted to purchase a bigger computer CPU with more memory to help handle the work that she had been doing. Finally, she was also excited to purchase a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). She explains, ‘due to frequent and unscheduled power outages I wish to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) that will enable me to at least save my work before the computer goes off (quite a horrible experience when I lose my work when  the power goes off suddenly).

Many Zidisha entrepreneurs find it helpful to diversify their incomes by creating multiple income streams. Some businesses have slow seasons and knowing that you have income coming in from more than one source can provide a needed sense of security. This is exactly what Angela was doing as she requested her next loan in November 2017 for $1,580. She shares, ‘I would like to buy a dairy cow and sell the milk to our cooperative society for monthly income. The cow will be kept in our rural home in Kinangop. I will also use part of the loan to buy dairy meal, salt and minerals, feeding troughs and a tank of water. The income will help me offset the loan and probably buy another cow from the proceeds.’

In June 2018, Angela used her most recent loan of $1,569 to purchase a color printer. She also planned to use a portion of the loan to purchase a variety of color toners. With the remaining funds, she also set aside money to pay the school fees and field trip fees for her children. Then, she also used a portion to buy additional animal feed for her dairy cow.

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Angela serves as such an inspiration as she is able to both build a fulfilling career for herself and also be an involved mother for her two children. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a female business owner like Angela, make sure to head on over to our Lend page.

Plotting a New Path Forward

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Georgina Ansere  was born in 1979 and lives in Techimantia, Ghana. She shares that she is tall in stature. As a child, her education was halted at the primary level. Fortunately, she continued to believe in herself and says, ‘Even though I was not academically good, I did not allow that to serve as an obstacle in my life because I knew there were other opportunities that would come on one day. So immediately a friend recommended Zidisha to me, I told myself this is an opportune time for me.”

Georgina explains it beautifully as she shares, ‘The name of my business is Georgina’s cocoa seedlings farm. This is located 1km from Techimantia along Techiman to Kumasi road. The main aim of establishing this cocoa project was to nurture seedlings for local farmers in my catchement area. The proceeds from the sales, I believe will cushion me and lesson my financial burden. Cocoa is a tropical crop and usually grows well in climate with high humidity and rainfall. Cocoa is a major cash crop cultivated in my area. I started this project after the death of my husband. He was the principal bread winner of the entire household. I started with only 2,000 and subsequently, have increased to 30,000. In fact, the outcome had been very encouraging and surprising because, I at times, cannot supply all the farmers. Some of the farmers even place orders in advance before they are supplied. Truly speaking, the nursery project has been of great significance because it has lessoned my financial predicaments. I want to increase the production of the cocoa seedlings from 30,000 to about 40,000 yearly. However, this vision cannot be achieved without access to good source of funding such as Zidisha.’

She is able to nurse about 30,000 cocoa seedlings yearly and wants to increase her production by buying more cocoa seeds and employing more workers so that she can sell more seedlings.

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So far, Georgina has successfully obtained 5 Zidisha funded loans, beginning in July 2016, with a $136 loan. With this first loan she was able to purchase more cocoa pods (seeds) and also hire some workers to help her prepare the nursery beds.

A few months later, in October, she requested a second loan, for the same amount, $136, and this time used the loan to buy fertilizer. She explains, ‘The application of fertilizer would help me a lot as my seedlings become good. This will definitely raise my income. Thank you.’

By the end of 2016, Georgina was almost able to double her loan amount by requesting $254 in December to purchase more organic fertilizer. In April 2017, Georgina found herself ready for another loan, this time, for $505. Her drive and persistence is so admirable as she shares, ‘my inability to pursue formal education to the high level cannot prevent me from achieving my desired goal.’ With this loan, Georgina was prepared to hire more workers to assist with the more strenuous manual labor work. She details her plan below:

Details of my plans are: cost of laborers for preparation of nursery beds=$100, cocoa pod (seeds)=$150, polythene bag for seedlings=$50, liquid solid fertilizer=$50, pesticide to be applied=$20, water for watering the seedlings=$30.

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Most recently in October 2017, she requested her largest loan yet, of $829. She begins, ‘I would like to use this opportunity to express my appreciation to all my lenders for giving financial support whenever I call them. I will forever, be grateful to all my lenders and also, pledge to remain faithful to my lenders when it comes to repayment of my loan. My nursery project is a lucrative business and the returns are also great. I will therefore, use this loan to expand my nursery project in preparation towards the major crop season. My lenders, as I did indicate in my last loan, in addition to my nursery project, I will use part of the loan to purchase a building plot to start putting up my building to house my family. With your kind assistance, I am certain that my dream will come through. The specific activities to be carried out include:

Preparation of nursery beds=$150

Cost of nursery seeds=$100

Polythen bags for nursing seedlings=$100

Cost of liquid & solid fertilizer=$100

Cost of water=$100

Cost of one building plot=$300

Two months after receiving this loan, Georgina excitedly shared with lenders, ‘May the Almighty God continue to shower his blessing upon lenders and all the Zidisha team for the good work done. You have made the life of me and my family very successful. My business is doing well. Thank you.’

In addition, on April 28, 2018, she provided this incredible update on her discussion page, ‘Hello Zidisha team, I am happy to inform you that my nursery project has improved tremendously. The rains have set in and very soon, I will start selling of my seedlings. This will fetch me more profit to pay back my loan. As I also indicated in my last loan proposal, I have used part of my profit to purchase a land (plot) for my building. Thank you lenders for helping to achieve my dream.’

Georgina has such a beautiful story of strength and resilience. After the tragic death of her husband, she is able to stay strong and provide both emotionally and financially for her family. If you would like to play a role in changing the life of a family like Georgina’s, head on over to our Lend Page to read about our other inspirational entrepreneurs.

An Animal Health Warrior

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Kirui Richard has faced a number of challenges in his life, coming from a humble family in Narok county, Kenya. As a child, he became an orphan when both of his parents passed away and he was then raised by his elder brother. Fortunately, he was able to receive an education and completed his primary education where he passed and then continued on to a high school in Bomet county. After high school, he furthered his education at Egerton University where he studied Animal Health. He shares that his brother’s encouragement played a big role in his ability to finish his education.

However, once he received his diploma, he was faced with a new challenge, how to start an agrovet shop? As a new business owner, he had a lot to learn, but was ready for the challenge.

His brother was able to help him financially with an investment to get him started. Unfortunately, the investment wasn’t enough to get his shop fully stocked.

He explains, ‘I come from a place where people like keeping livestock but the problem is that there is not enough capital to certify all these farmers. If given enough capital I will help my customers to get their items. My hobby is to visit my treated patients and see them recovery well.’

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In his agrovets shop he sells: seeds, minerals, acaricides, and dewormers to farmers. In addition, he also provides services where he treats sick animals. His products and services are in high demand as farming is the main source of income for most people in his community.

So far, his main business costs have been a county business license, his electricity bill, and a veterinary inspection fee. With his profits, he is able to increase his overall stock.

He has successfully raised 6 loans so far with Zidisha lenders, beginning in 2018. With a repayment rate of 100%, he has shown lenders that he is worth investing in. When he raised his first loan of $11 in March, he purchased a variety of livestock goods and also bought a vaccine fridge which allowed him to stock different vaccines. That same month, he also raised, $13 to purchase additional vaccines to sell to farmers.

With his following loan of $20 in April 2018, he increased his stock of both Amitrax and Deltametri. It was important for him to have a nice supply of stock on hand so that customers knew they could come to him.

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Shortly thereafter, he requested his two loans in May and June to purchase vaccines for the Newcastle disease. He shares, ‘The disease is fatal and I wish to help my farmers control the disease.’ Each vial that he purchased cost $3.

Most recently, with a $41 loan, he was able to purchase antirabies vaccines for $10 each. He hoped to vaccinate 40 dogs in his village.

Kirui has clearly been making a positive impact on the lives of the farmers in his community. Through his vaccines and services, he is allowing the local economy to thrive. If you would like to learn more about other amazing Zidisha entrepreneurs, head on over to our Lend Page to read more.

Securing a Safer World

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Obed Osoro may have been born to a poverty stricken family but he didn’t allow that to hold him back. He says, ‘through hardship and the help of God and well wishers I completed high school and proceeded to campus and now I am a Master’s Degree holder in Business Information Systems. He has now started his own business and and in his own words says, ‘through Zidisha loans I have grown to touch other lives.’ When he is not busy in his business, he also loves swimming and traveling.

In his business, Obed imports and installs security systems all across Kenya and someday he hopes to expand internationally as well.

With over a dozen Zidisha funded loans so far, Obed has successfully grown his business. Over time, he has been able to pivot and change his offerings to items such as, ‘Elevators, Electronics, Security systems and communication systems like projectors and PA-BX and laptops.

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CCTV Installation with one of his technicians.

Starting out, he began with a $50 loan in January 2015 and a $46 loan in June 2016. Far from where he is today, he actually launched his Zidisha journey by selling ladies, men’s, and children’s clothing and shoes. Behind this business, Obed held onto a big dream as he explains, ‘My dream is to own a big cloth and shoe store in Kenya and be the leader in the market whereby am also able to provide employment opportunities for young talented street boys in Nakuru town.’ Being able to give back and help the street boys is close to his heart and a big part of why he does what he does.

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Obed spending time with the Street Boys.

By April of 2016, Obed had slowly expanded and requested a $92 loan to start importing security systems. He felt confident in this decision as he noticed a great demand in this sector, and wanted to become the go to business to provide these products. He continues, ‘Your generous lending will be highly appreciated as we partner to transform lives far and wide.’

With his next three loans all for $92 in October 2016, November 2016, and January 2017, he was able to import Solar Heater systems for two large hotels in Nakuru and imported Elocks for a large hotel. He thankfully shares, ‘May I take this opportunity to thank My Zidisha Lenders for the past loans which have grown me from a shoe & clothing business to security & enterprise systems and now more graciously a direct importer of all types of goods from China and Dubai.’

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The CCTV installation is complete!

Then, he raised 5 more loans in 2017, starting with a $95 loan in April. He shares, ‘I am writing to inform my lenders that my security systems import business is growing very fast and I need more funds to deliver the needs of my clients. In the recent past I have seen the profit margin increasing tremendously from 15% to 37% currently despite the financial strains.’

Obed found that buying in bulk would alleviate the problem of being short of inventory, and scrambling to find products for his clients. Therefore, this is how he used the remaining 2017 loans. More specifically, he increased his stock of these items: spy cameras, metal detectors and walk throughs, elocks, and CCTV. These loans ranged from $142 in June 2017 to $965 in December 2017.

Most recently, Obed raised $1,083 from lenders to import CCTV cameras and metal detectors for a security company and school. With this amount, he predicted that he would still be able to maintain a 20% profit.

In addition to his business goals, his other goal is help support the street children to teach them to become responsible and self-reliant. Through his partnership with Zidisha, Obed has been able to make big changes for both himself, family, and the street boys in his community. At the end of 2017, he was even able to end the year by taking his family on a 1 week vacation, paying school fees for his daughter, and supporting the street boys daily feeding program. Additionally, he also supported two boys allowing them to pursue a carpentry course.

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A birthday celebration for his daughter!

By building a thriving business, Obed has found himself in a unique position, able to be a leader and supporter in both his family and community. If you would like to be a part of this process and help an entrepreneur like Obed, head on over to our Lend page to read about our other amazing Zidisha entrepreneurs.