The Sky Is the Limit

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Moffat Utwere is a Kenyan entrepreneur, an overcomer and also a gifted writer. Here’s his story:

“I am a native Kenyan citizen, born and raised in a third world country, face to face with all the shortcomings of it: Poverty, Poor Infrastructure, Hunger, Political instabilities, Under Development, Diseases, Corruption, Civil Wars just to mention a few. Born to two peasants who were casual labourers by then doing small casual jobs, they struggled to raise me together with two of my siblings and they have been through thick and thin to see us through school. I studied from elementary to tertiary thanks to government funds, NGO sponsorships and well wishers yet still it was not a walk in the park.

My desire is to own and run a stable business, I have a small one that is up and running but as they say the sky is the limit and I am not even at the clouds yet, but nothing comes on a silver plate. I have to work for it, and I am not keen with being employed due to limited opportunities despite having well deserving certificates, also I do not opt for employment due to its “enslaving” nature. A friend of mine categorically testified to me how Zidisha enabled him to grow and realize his goals and objectives and for sure it caught my attention and I said to myself, why not?

I want to eradicate poverty off my shoulders and also save my family along and am quite optimistic Zidisha will be a part of this magnificent transformation. I want to grow bit by bit using this platform building a mutual relationship that at the end will bring up something beautiful, something to go down in the history books.”

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While Moffat has overcome and persevered though so much in his life, he’s truly just getting started. Today he runs an Mpesa shop selling a variety of items including: credit, accessories, sweets, and other consumer goods. He is working hard to build up his capital base and maintain a strong foundation as he competes in a competitive market.

Through his partnership with Zidisha, he has been able to purchase consumer goods in bulk, which would not have been a possibility on his own. Items such as cooking oil, rice, and cooking flour tend to sell well because they are staple goods used in almost every household. Even during a financial crisis, these are items that continue to be in demand.

In addition, by also offering to deliver his items directly to his customers, he’s providing an additional service to put him above the competition. As he continues to grow the business, he hopes to employ additional members of his community.

Even though Moffat has only been part of the Zidisha community since early 2019, he’s already making up for lost time with 6 Zidisha funded loans!

Initially, Moffat was able to quickly secure two small $1 loans in March, which he immediately paid off to increase his credit. Shortly thereafter, he was able to raise $16 from lenders in April which allowed him to increase his stock of cooking oil.

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Following those first three loans, he raised $26 in April and added new shelving to his shop so that he would be able to hold more goods. In addition, he also purchased additional lighting, hoping to make the shop more appealing to potential customers.

After successfully raising four small loans, Moffat was ready for a larger loan, as he raised, $113 from Zidisha lenders, putting the funds towards fast moving inventory such as, ‘eggs, credit, and sweets.’

Most recently, in May, Moffat was able to raise $341, his largest loan yet! He shares, “Hello lenders, I am hereby applying for this loan to add more stock to my existing one, thanks to the Zidisha platform I was able to begin my small business with a few fast moving goods, as per now after borrowing just 4 times it has drastically expanded my business, from small home supplies now am investing in maize and wheat flour which am personally supplying to my consumers. I have day to day orders from nearby hotels that use these products on a daily basis. This is a sure market who prefer my products because I not only sell to them but also supply to them at a wholesale price which is comparatively cheaper than other retail shops and on rare occasions give them on credit. Then I collect the balances at the end of the day. With a steady supply and a growing market, I can firmly assure the business will grow to an extraordinary length.”

Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Moffat? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about Zidisha entrepreneurs all over the world!

The Mushroom Man

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Living in Accra Ghana, Joseph Shelter is a millennial man, with a passion for mushroom farming. He completed his high school studies and afterwards he started his work in the mushroom farming industry. He describes his work as his “dream job” as he says, ‘It is my belief that I will strive successfully in this industry so as to be able to support myself and children in the future.’

Getting started with his business, Joseph used his personal savings as well as support from friends and family. As he continued to pursue mushroom farming, he saw the demand continue to increase as he received calls for orders from hotels, restaurants, and individuals. Along the way, a friend introduced him to Zidisha.

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Since his introduction to Zidisha in 2017, Joseph has been able to raise 8 Zidisha funded loans. By dipping his toes in with a $61 loan from lenders, Joseph was able to build more shelving for his business and he also bought materials as well. At this point, Joseph shared that he dreamed of one day being able to employ other people to assist him in his business.

A few months later, Joseph was ready to construct a new building to house his mushrooms. To make this happen, he used $153 from Zidisha lenders in October and $254 from lenders in December to purchase wood, bamboo, nails, and rice ban and saw dust for the bags. In addition, with his busiest season approaching, he used the remainder of the funds to employ a man from his village to assist him in the business, making one of his big goals a reality.

As 2018 rolled around, having enough room to house the growing demand for his mushrooms continued to be a priority. To accommodate this, Joseph set his sights on expanding his existing structure and building additional huts. With loans of $372 in March, $503 in May, $727 in August, and $860 in December Jospeh was able to purchase the materials he needed including: bamboo, roofing sheets, thatch, boards, nails, as well as preparing the ground.

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He knew that this would be a length process and that it would take a lot of time, money, and work to build the structures. However, the sheer size of the project did not deter him.

In fact, on October 5, 2018, Joseph proudly shared this good news with lenders, ‘Good morning lenders I hope you are all doing well. Thank you once again for your support in my business. My business is sailing very well and I am thinking of entering into other business line. Once again God richly bless you all.’

Currently, as of 2019, Joseph is continuing to work on his structures and most recently, he was able to raise $1,111 in April to keep the project moving forward. He says, ‘Thank you all very much lenders. Your loan has really been a blessing to me.’

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The New Structure

While the process has been long, Joseph has been patient, taking everything one step at a time. Without outside funding from Zidisha lenders, it’s possible that Joseph would not have been able to expand his building and create new huts as he dreamed. However long it takes, Joseph will continue to work hard towards his dream.

Would you like to support another entrepreneur like Joseph? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read story after story of business owners who are innovating in their communities.


One Candle Does Not Go Off By Lighting Another

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Anne Muriu has a lot to be proud of! With a thriving business, she’s accomplished a great deal in her life.

However, like everyone, things haven’t been perfect. She shares, ‘There was an instance when my school life was hard. I did not have lots of money. Sometimes, when my friends would go for lunch in a high-end hotel, I would look for a nearby kiosk. Despite that hardship, I was able to finish school without peer pressure. This helped me to see life in a different fashion and to always use the little that I had well.’

She currently operates a business where she trains people in her community to do online jobs. Most of her customers have young children and this allows them to continue working while also raising their kids. She initially started this business after noticing a clear gap in the market and after discovering that there would be few startup costs.

Fortunately for Anne, she has a supportive family that has provided her with the assistance that she needs to get her business up and running. In addition, her family also believes in the importance of acquiring her skills, which has been an encouragement to her in her entrepreneurial journey.

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Anne explains, ‘Another reason why I ventured into online training is that, after my sporting extra curriculum activities, I had to fill in the gap of my active sports life. Online work and training was that challenge I needed. I do volunteer, especially in children’s rights activities. I have also learned in my forums that one candle does not go off by lighting another.’

Right now in her business she is focused on training a few people how to write articles and transcribe. And in addition to training others, she is also witnessing growth in herself as she polishes her own skills.

In terms of costs associated with her business, she has the costs of the data management and software that she uses. She is also excited to use a portion of her profits to continue investing in new training courses and resources. She hopes to continue growing and to increase the number of people she is able to train.

Anne shares, ‘In this group, we will certainly be better in life as a skilled workforce. When a group of people come together, life becomes easier. People are able to earn as a group and accommodate each others weakness. There are those who are good with time management, others are a think tank, others in pushing others to work and others in meeting deadlines.’

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A few years ago, Anne was first introduced to Zidisha through her mentors, who had already been with Zidisha for many years. Since her introduction to Zidisha in 2015, she has successfully raised 4 loans, beginning with a $50 loan in February 2015. At the time, Anne was in need of a new computer hard drive, a phone charger, and repairs for her cannon camera.

Because Anne runs an online business, these tech gadgets are essential to her business. She shares, ‘I have realized the importance of functional gadgets, they can save time and money. For me, they will make a difference in my online service delivery and income.’

On Oct 18, 2015, Anne shared this inspirational update with Zidisha lenders, ‘Wow! It has been a while. I would like to thank you for assisting me. I was doing an analysis of the impact and its mind blowing. I am one step ahead on computers. I did not waste any time, thanks to you Harriet and Space-thyme and Team Zidisha. In July – September, I was able to take some adults through introduction to computers. There is a big gap in the market of adults who want to learn computers. Many adults are looking for places to belong. They fear going to college with young people. Others look for sponsor related programs. I have been studying a lot as well. I am doing courses at Udemy and PhilanthropyU.’

Two years later, in April 2017, Anne was ready for a second loan, of $67. This would allow her to expand her web presence, paying for hosting and security for her website and also to create a website.

She also came up with the idea to sell handmade products on her website, made by members of her local community. She would promote the products for a small fee, hoping to make between $50 and $150 per month.

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By November 2017, she was ready to increase the sales and marketing efforts for her website, with the help of a $101 Zidisha funded loan. Anne explains, ‘Online presence communication is important. The above activities should drive sales from my website for social good.’

Most recently, Anne was able to raise, $108 in April 2019. With these funds, she was able to help with her online training resources. Right now, she has 7 interested customers paying $25 each for her training.

Through her business, Anne has truly tapped into a new market, allowing young parents to make an income for themselves, while also raising their children at home.

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Anne reach a new market in their communities? Feel free to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners.

A Formula for Success

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Rita Nutsugah was fortunate to have received a great education as a child, and strong support from both parents. She always had a knack for saving and as she says, ‘ I loved doing small handiwork.’ From there she used her small savings to start the business that she runs today.

When she’s not busy running her business, one of her great joys is cooking. She enjoys finding new recipes and also likes to relax by watching movies, reading, and sewing.

In her business, Rita sells a variety of items including: clothing, liquid detergent, and general trading items. With her profit, she is able to pay her rent and also re-invest in her business.

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With the help of Zidisha lenders, Rita has been able to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans. Rita began her partnership with Zidisha in August 2015 and raised $100 to purchase some basic tools for detergent making.

Shortly thereafter, in November 2015, she successfully doubled her first loan and used $200 from Zidisha lenders to buy more materials including: base, buster, thickener, salt, fragrance, color. She also used the remaining funds for transportation and for printing labels.

By 2016, Rita was ready to increase her inventory of detergent, with a loan of $416 from lenders to get her started. She purchased bottles, base, thickener, booster, soda ash, sulphonic acid, and glycerine.

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For Rita, 2017 was a year with a lot of accomplishments and big strides in her business. She started the year by renting a larger space for producing her soap. With a loan of $570 from Zidisha lenders, she acquired a space, purchased paint, shalves, a ploytank, and also paid for painters to paint the shop.

In addition to seeing her business thrive, she was also nominated to attend the National Board for Small Scale Industries business plan training. Beyond that, she was also listed on the “Made in Ghana” website! She shared with lenders that, ‘I am very grateful for your financial support that have now put me in the lime light.’ 2017 was also the year where she developed a new formula for her detergent as well!

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Reflecting on the year, Rita shared, ‘My previous loan helped me a lot in the following way: it helped me top up to acquire a delivery van, it also helped me in expanding the quantity of products, it also helped me in my research to come up with a new formula for my detergent. Because of it I am now being invited to attend seminars for SMEs.’

Never one to rest on her laurels, Rita was ready to continue to change and grow her business in 2018. As she approached lenders for a loan of $648, she put a plan in place to renovate part of her workspace, to fix and purchase new plugs and extension boards, and to repair and service her delivery van. The items that she needed to purchase to make this happen included: ‘wood, mesh, nails, extension boards, fuel pump and van parts, a mixer, and labor.’

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On April 12, 2018, Rita proudly shared this update with lenders, ‘Thank you Zidisha once again for your assistance and support. I promised to keep working hard and also be prompt with my repayment. This loan will help me fix and buy the items listed in my proposal for the loan, eg to fix some of my plugs and buy the wood for the fixing of the top part of my working space. Thank you my lenders.’

Most recently, in March 2019, Rita was able to raise, $701 from lenders, and with the funds, purchased a 3 clip agitation machine.