The Fruits of Her Labor

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 9.40.00 AM

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Edith Tumaini is a busy woman, as a wife, business owner, and mother of two children living in the outskirts of Nairobi. In addition to a strong work ethic she also has the educational foundation having taken Business  Management courses all the way up to the college level.

Edith started her farming business after resigning from her work as a banker in order to pursue her passion. She started by putting up a small greenhouse on the property of her compound, fortunate to have the necessary space. She was able to use the money that she received after resigning for her initial start up costs.

To begin, Edith planted tomatoes for a 6 month period. Then, using the money she earned from selling the tomatoes, she purchased an automatic 200 egg incubator which cost $825 dollars. This led her to start hatching and selling quail chicks to farmers. Knowing the importance of continually re-investing in her business, she then used the proceeds from the quail eggs to build a quail and chicken house.

Edith 13

To explain her business she shares, ‘I do greenhouse farming, planting tomatoes and indigenous vegetables, hatch and rearing quails for both meat and eggs, and I have just started hatching and rearing indigenous chicken. Organic gardening is now being embraced both locally and internationally and as Kenya embraces this technology, investors, farmers, and those already in the organic business are expected to reap high returns. With the agricultural industry having rising environmental concerns, organic gardening seems to be the preferred choice for a majority of farmers. And that’s why I decided to farm organic indigenous chicken and indigenous vegetables because the demand is higher.’

Giving back to her own community has always been a dream of Edith’s and in the future, she hopes to achieve that dream through employing a few members of her town. She shares, ‘When my business expands I know I will be able to increase my stock to about 5000 chickens and have no less than 10 employees, that is where I will say I have life fulfillment because through me more than 10 families will be able to put food on their table and educate their children, and THAT IS MY DREAM.’

With any business, there are obviously costs and risks to consider. Edith explains that in greenhouse farming, the biggest risks are pests and diseases. The solution for this is hiring an agronomist to provide advice on pest control and proper spraying procedures. Regarding quail farming, she mentions that there is not as much risk but that cleanliness is important. With chicken farming, the biggest risk is disease but this problem can be resolved due to vaccinating and by providing the chickens with the right diet and clean water.

Edith was excited to enter the chicken business as she found it to be very profitable, especially as consumers seemed to prefer the organically fed chicken that she was providing.

Overall, in her business, most of her costs are attributed to seedlings, pests, labour, feeds, and agronomist costs. For the quail and chickens, feed is by far the biggest cost.

Fortunately, she was able to help ease the financial burden, as she has partnered with Zidisha and has now successfully raised five loans with the help of lenders.

Starting in April 2014, she began with a loan of $140 which she used to double her number of chickens from 100 to 200. She also used this investment to purchase chicken feeds and vaccinations.

Edith 1

The following year, in September 2015, she obtained her second loan for $256. Edith found herself ready to take a risk by adding something new to her business. She knew that in her area, fish is considered a delicacy and that driving into town to purchase fish is quite a long drive. By providing fish in her area, she would be offering something that many community members would not have otherwise.

Always growing, by June of 2017, Edith was ready for both another Zidisha funded loan of $378 and also something new to sell. She set her sights on starting a mushroom farm within her compound. By employing two local workers, she was able to construct the building that she would need. Edith notes that even as she is just starting, she already has a ready market for button mushrooms!

Edith 5

The following year, in April of 2018, Edith ventured into watermelon farming! She had started planting in March and shared her progress a month later as she explains to lenders, ‘They are growing very well, I have managed to spray pesticides, fungicides and foliars from the vegetative stage until now when they are almost fruiting. The plants have grown big, and I am required to buy more and more chemicals for spraying. The cost of buying the chemicals is very high, and that is why I have come back to my Zidisha family to help me complete this last cycle until I harvest and transport melons to the market.’

Most recently, in August 2018, Edith requested her fifth Zidisha funded loan for $492. She shares that pests and diseases can eat up a huge part of a farmers income and that while almost anyone can start a farm, the maintenance aspect is why so many give up along the way.

While her crop was doing well, she still needed to continue purchasing fungicides, pesticides, insecticides and foliar feeds and spray. This is something that she would need to continue doing weekly for the entire year.

At this point, she also started to see the fruit of her labor as she is now able to employ 2 permanent staff workers and 5 part-time workers, allowing her to help both members of her community and their entire families.

Following her August loan, she shared an update with lenders on her discussion page, ‘Dear Zidisha family. Am taking this opportunity to say thank you to all my lenders, without you I wouldn’t have made it this far. I used the money to buy farm chemicals, this helped in maintaining healthy watermelon and disease free, as most of you know watermelon are heavy feeders and maintenance is not easy. The money I received from the watermelon sales I immediately put up a vegetable nursery, transplanted the vegetables and now they are doing well.’

If you would help another entrepreneur reach their dreams, head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspirational business owners.

Finding The Missing Thread

Soehardo 1

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Soehardo Soehadak was born in Ponorogo, Indonesia on October 28, 1968. He received a good education and completed his studies all the way through high school. He enjoyed learning so much that at one point during his childhood he even dreamed of becoming a teacher. Then, in 1996 he was happily able to marry his now wife. Ever since, they have been working together in Salatiga. Once he had obtained some good work experience in the sewing services industry, he decided to go into business for himself!

He shares, ‘In Java, the traditional arts are interesting, yatu reog, Javanese dance and tasters. I am interested in running this business because the clothing business has no death, because clothing includes basic necessities. My convection business, which is done by 3 people, namely me, Iatri and 1 worker. My turnover is an average of 5 million to 7 million a month. While the net profit is around 4 million. I use the net benefits for my child’s school fees, meals and daily necessities.’


When Soehardo has free time after work, he loves reading and going cycling. He is also a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, joining in July 2018. However, it’s evident that he’s been working hard to grow his business as he’s already successfully raised 9 Zidisha funded loans, all in the short span of 3 months!

Starting small, he raised his very first loan of $1 to purchase sewing needles and cloth. Then, the following month, in August 2018, he raised a total of 3 loans. With his first August loan of $5, Soehardo purchased additional supplies such as, threads and upholstery. He proudly explains, ‘The advantage that I get in producing clothing, helps the community in meeting clothing needs. With this convection business, it can at least add new fields, namely tailoring.’

Soehardo 6

Shortly thereafter, he obtained a second loan in August for $13, this one put towards hard cloth or coatings. Then, his third August loan of $19 was used to purchase hard fabrics or upholstery fabrics. By purchasing entire rolls, he was able to save money that he would then be able to use elsewhere in his business.

While his work in August was nothing short of impressive, he really set to work in September. Through the help of Zidisha lenders, he obtained a total of 5 loans in September 2018, allowing him to make exciting changes in his business.

First, he started with a loan of $31, to purchase 11 meters of fabric. Just as in the previous loan, he was excited that by joining with lenders, he could purchase larger quantities of fabric saving him money that he would be able to use elsewhere in his business.

Soehardo 5

By the end of September, he had acquired four additional loans for $31, $45, $49, and $104. Each of these loans allowed him to purchase additional fabric and threads. By this time, Soehardo was really enjoying being able to shop at wholesalers rather than paying expensive retail prices for his fabrics and supplies.

In August, Soehardo shared this exciting update with the Zidisha community.‘With this loan, I will buy a large sewing machine, so I can do sewing orders quickly. So far, to fulfill daily needs apart from my sewing income, it can also be obtained from agricultural products. During this time my wife and I have many neighbors and they are good to our family as a sign of my good reputation so far. In my area I have an interesting habit, usually every year there is a celebration of traditional parties, namely eating together as a thanksgiving for harvesting agricultural produce.’

Soehardo 4

Between purchasing a sewing machine and now purchasing his materials in bulk from wholesalers, Soehardo has been able to make the most of his Zidisha partnership. Daily, he is making progress on his goals and it’s clear that he is also working hard to serve his community members with beautiful clothing.

If you’d like to support another small business owner like Soehardo, make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read about our other amazing entrepreneurs around the world.

My Life Is Not the Same

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.29.23 AM

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

If you were to travel to the town of Eldoret, Kenya, you might come across, Tonny Lukalo. And you’d know it was him because he has a contagious smile that seems to spread across his entire face. He also comes from a large family and is the eldest child in his family with 11 younger siblings! As a student, he attended Cheplaskei High School and later on pursued Horticultural courses at the Bukura Institute.

He currently has a farm with his wife but before discovering Zidisha, a lack of finances limited their ability to grow and expand the farm. He’s also hoping to change the perception of farming that people have in his community as he shares, “Where I stay, people think that farming is meant for old or retired ones and you can’t get money for the whole family but for me it has really helped me feed and keep my children in school. One of my children wants to be a vet doctor.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.30.21 AM

When joining Zidisha in 2015, Tonny had been in the farming industry for 2 years and was planting vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. In his area, these foods are staples and are therefore always in demand throughout the community. He continues, “ I chose this kind of business because of high demand on the ground and in the community around us. It is also my passion to plant and sell for money so my family can have something to put on the table and to take them to school.”

Although his family and farm keep him pretty busy, when he has free time, he enjoys attending his church called, Living Rock church.

So far, with 6 Zidisha funded loans between January 2015 and September 2018, Tonny has been able to make some impressive changes to his business. With his initial $50 loan, he was able to purchase seeds and fertilizers that allowed him to expand his production. In his own words, “If this business grows it will be a great blessing to my family and create a job to others too.”

A few months later, in March 2018, he secured a second loan from lenders, this one for $98. This allowed him to keep expanding and to take care of his family through school fees for his children. At this point, he dreamed of saving up to add pigs to his farm! Seeing the success and benefit of his Zidisha partnership, he doubled his following loan to $188 in August 2015 to buy fertilizer and DAP for his business. With the remaining funds, he was also able to purchase two jembes, pay his son’s school fees, and even hired someone to help with weeding on his farm.

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.30.39 AM

Not only is Tonny able to supply fresh vegetables to his community but he’s also so proud that once in a while he is able to offer employment to one member of his town needing employment. And an added benefit is that he strives to make sure that half of the food that his family eats includes vegetables so that they grow up eating a healthy diet. He also foresaw this loan as having a 20% increase in his profit.

As the new year rolled around, Tonny received his next Zidisha funded loan of $384 from lenders and purchased a water pump, water pipe, and two bags of DAP, with the remaining funds paying the remainder of his son’s tuition.

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.29.34 AM

The following year, in March 2017, Tonny was ready to keep expanding the farm with another loan of $384. This allowed him to purchase DAP fertilizer, CAN fertilizer, seeds, and knapsack sprayer. The rest of the loan helped him to pay his farm rent, at a cost of $180.

Sharing this important season with lenders he mentions, “It’s planting season in Eldoret and the farm will give me 20 percent profit. Also, it will help my family and the community to have food.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.29.47 AM

Recently, in September 2018, Tonny was able to secure a sixth Zidisha funded loan for $433, his largest yet! He shares his vision and dream as he explains, “Hi Zidisha family, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Zidisha family in helping me realize the dream of my farm. With this loan I will buy a second hand motor bike that will cost 400 dollars, the bike will help in transporting my farm produce to the market. About 18% of the cost is used in transporting my produce to the market and farm inputs to the farm. Since the fuel prices have gone up the transport cost will be much higher so with the motor bike I will reduce the cost of production.”

On September 4, 2018, Tonny took to his discussion page to share this update with his lenders, “My last loan was of great help I bought the generator that increased my profit by 20%. The increment that I got, I used to add one employee to help on the farm and I was able to help the needy children with vegetables once every week. The last holiday I went to the rural home with my family. Thanks Zidisha.”

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 10.30.07 AM

One of the most inspiring aspects of the lender/borrower relationship at Zidisha, is that growth is inevitable for both parties, this is one of the reasons why Zidisha is so unique. The process stretches you and for the lender it forces you to trust your financial resources with another person. And, as the borrower, there is a great responsibility to make your lenders (and family) proud by using your resources well.

Tonny L 1

Tonny is one of those borrowers that has continued to grow and thrive throughout his time with Zidisha as he expresses his gratitude, “Hi Zidisha family am very happy to be part of you. My life is not the same, I am able to do things that was hard for me in the past, my family is able to have food thanks to Zidisha.”

Would you like to make a difference in a family like Tonny’s? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring entrepreneurs around the world!

The Strength to Keep Going

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.59.38 AM

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Rebecca Esere was raised in a large family, as the youngest of 11 children. She explains that having such a big family was often a burden for her parents in finding a way to feed the whole family, pay for necessities, and also send them to school. But somehow, they found a way, as she says, ‘thanks to their resilience we all are able to stand on our feet as grown ups. I recognize their sacrifice and struggle and I am grateful to them for that.’ At the age of 17, she started working as a Pharmacy Assistant to support herself and her brother.

Now, Rebecca currently works as an Administrative Assistant, and while her job pays the bills, she rarely has much money after that. Wanting greater opportunities for herself, she set out to venture into the farming business. When she first started with Zidisha in 2017, she shared a bold and exciting goal of purchasing land and a greenhouse to grow capsicum and tomatoes. She hoped that in time, this would provide a supplemental income to her current job, enhancing both her own life, and that of her family’s.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.59.51 AM

To better understand the working climate in Kenya, Rebecca explains, ‘without any professional qualification it’s almost impossible to get work in Kenya, and with qualifications it’s still difficult, but even when you have work it barely covers your living expenses. It makes more sense to go into business as you not only provide for yourself but also create jobs for others. That is the reason I would like to go into agribusiness not only to make a living but it will create jobs, and provide food for several people, at least in a small way. I will be contributing towards helping with the food security problem. In addition, everywhere on earth I personally think the most important commodity for every human is food, so I have confidence that it is a business that will succeed.’

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 10.00.06 AM

At the start of her project, Rebecca shared her broad vision with lenders as she explained, ‘The green house project will also provide employment to those who will be working in it and food that will be sold to other, I feel in some way I not only better my life but of others.’ While she was aware that the cost of the project would be high, she also knew that her greenhouse would then last for 10 years. The entire cost of the investment would be $600 paid in installments. But this didn’t deter Rebecca as she envisioned the potential, knowing that once up and running, she could add up to $4,000 per year to her current income.

By starting this business, Rebecca saw that what she was creating was much bigger than a side business for a little extra money. She was starting something that would help alleviate the food shortage problems in her community and would also eventually provide jobs for her fellow community members.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 10.00.16 AM

So far, in her time with Zidisha, Rebecca has secured 8 Zidisha funded loans, between May 2017 and September 2018. While that first loan in May might have seemed insignificant at $5, she recently obtained her largest loan yet for $891, putting her well on her way towards achieving her goals.

Recently, on September 4, 2018, Rebecca expressed her gratitude for her lenders and the Zidisha community as she said, ‘I am humbled, and grateful to you all for supporting and trusting me with your money, so I can achieve my goal and help my people and others as well. I am so very happy to inform you that with your assistance I have made huge strides, I have been able to combine what savings I had and the assistance you have given me and have been able to finally complete payment for land, now I begin payment for the green house and God willing that too I will soon complete. I was able to visit the land and see the projects progress for those who already completed payment, I have attached photos so you have in mind what the greenhouse project is all about. The empty space is where my greenhouse and others will go, currently they have planted tomatoes and after the season is over probably capsicum. Again, from the bottom of my heart thanks for your continued support and good wishes. You give me strength to keep going.’

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 10.00.25 AM

Would you like to make a difference in the life of a female entrepreneur like Rebecca? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring business owners.

The Solar Entrepreneur

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.31.37 AM

By Betsy Ramser jaime

Peter Gatundu is a true hustler, in the best possible way. He started out with a second hand shoe business in his town in Kenya, but always had his eyes set towards the future as well. With a passion for environmental conservation, his mission has been to start an affordable solar water heater project and indigenous tree nursery.

He is also raising three boys and is teaching them to dream big as well. His first born dreams of becoming a pilot and his second son would like to join the military someday.

With his shoe business, Peter is able to generate about 800 shillings in income per day. He shares that he purchases the shoes in Nairobi and then sells in Nanyuki town. He also has a second side hustle doing taxi work, which allows him to maintain his income when shoe sales are down. And, just when you were wondering how Peter possibly manages it all, he also grows most of his own food on his own farm and sells the extra to make some additional income. On average, this adds about 500 shillings to his daily profit.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.33.49 AM

Since becoming a member of the Zidisha community in 2017, Peter has successfully raised 8 loans. With his first 3 loans in September and October 2017, he was able to pay school fees for his boys and also grow his shoe business by purchasing 80 additional pairs of shoes. Generally, he is able to sell each pair for $2.80 and he makes a profit of $.80 cents per pair.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.33.11 AM

By January 2018, Peter was ready to get started with his dreams of building a homemade solar water heater, and his Zidisha lenders were behind him to help make this happen. With a mere $75 from lenders, he set to work. He purchased 4 PVC pipes, two iron sheets, 20 connectors, a heated water storage tank, insulation, and plywood. He predicted that the total starting cost would amount to $90. The good news was that he also estimated that he would be able to sell it for $170 making a profit of $80 for himself.

He explains, “This is a very affordable water solar heater compared to a factory one which the cheapest one cost about 800 dollars. My dream is to continue making cheap solar water like this and enable as many people as possible to buy it and save trees and electricity bills. It is also a good idea to take advantage of the sunshine in Kenya.”

On Jan 28, 2018, Peter proudly took to his discussion page and shared with lenders this update, “My homemade solar water is now working. It is all passive.Today after two hours and half of sunshine, the water was very hot such that cold water had to be mixed for any to shower. My next goal is working on retaining the heat so the water can stay hot/warm for at least 10 hours after the sun has set.Thank for your support.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.34.14 AM

In an effort to make his product as close to perfect as possible, Peter set out for his next loan of $90 in April 2018 to make a few changes and improvements to his model. He shares his thought process as he says, “I will use the new loan to improve my solar water heater so that it will be as perfect as possible by the time it goes out to customers. First, I will raise the water heater 8 feet high so that it gets the sunshine earlier in the morning and very late in the afternoon. I will also use the loan to advance the insulation around the storage tank.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.34.59 AM

Soon after this loan, Peter was prepared to share his progress, “Thank you so much for the loan you gave me. It made me have a big step forward as far as my Home Solar Water heater is concerned. I bought four pvc pipes each 20 meters long, 50 connectors and two iron sheets each 1 meter by 2 meters. I really appreciate your help which has made the whole project to have a very good start. Very soon a lot of people will be able to use free heat from the Sun to heat water at an affordable price and save our trees.”

A few months later, in June 2018, Peter found himself in need of an additional loan from lenders. With this next loan of $189, Peter purchased a 2,000 liter water storage tank to feed the heated water tank. He noted the importance of this tank as he explains, “This tank will help me to ensure that I have enough water supply even during dry season to feed my solar water heater. This will also help the community understand how the whole solar water heater system works and thereby will give me more customers in the near future. I would like to take this time to thank all my lenders.Without your help, this project won’t progress.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.35.17 AM

His next project began in July 2018 as he started constructing two water solar heaters for a boarding school. After purchasing materials and building the heaters, he was able to receive a nice profit of $110.

Most recently, Peter was able to raise $384 from lenders in September to purchase additional materials such as, iron sheets, black paint, pvc pipes, connectors, uv protected plastic sheets, tanks, and glue. These materials would allow him to build three additional tanks.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 9.31.37 AM

With a little innovation and iteration, Peter has found a business that he truly loves and is also bringing substantial environmental change to his community.

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Peter? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to see other amazing projects like Peter’s solar water heater.