Zidisha All The Way!

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a student, Felix Appiah attended the Ghana Armed Forces secondary school in Kumasi. Afterwards, he earned a degree in Civil Engineering. Today he is busy as he manages two jobs. First, as a supervisor for the construction of roads, buildings, and culverts. And second, he is also self-employed as a web designer and video blogger. When Felix was first introduced to Zidisha he shared that, ‘I have a passion for pictures and videos and wish to open my own studio.’ At the time, he was using an old camera which he liked to call his, ‘Sony Grandpa.’ However, his goal was to upgrade his equipment so that he would be able to offer higher quality results and services for his customers. You can even view his website at: http://www.trisolace.com.

As Felix was first introduced to Zidisha in 2017, he shared his hopes and goals with lenders, ‘I use my time to pursue my love in picture taking and videos. I have some contracts to cover small weddings and parties in my area. But I lack new equipment and accessories in the ever growing photography world. I currently have in my employ 1 person who carries my home made lighting pole for night events and indoor events. I would love to employ more people and buy more equipment. I get my revenue or income from the little retail business I have and also from contracts of weddings and party coverage. And some revenue also come from my occasional supervision work as a foreman or supervisor in building and construction work.’

Felix new camera

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $124, Felix set out to purchase a 20 megapixel camera that he could use for weddings and party shoots. In addition, he also hoped to use the remainder of the loan to buy a lighting pole for indoor video and photo shoots. By improving his equipment quality, Felix knew that this would allow him to provide better quality videos and photos for his clients. Also, he foresaw that this could lead to more contracts and hopefully the ability to employ more workers too.

Felix’s next business purchase required some patience and persistence. He dreamed of purchasing a high quality laptop that he could use for his photo and video editing. At the time, he had been doing most of his editing at internet cafes but found that the computers were often slow and unreliable. With a laptop of his own, he knew this would make a big difference in his business in allowing him to process more videos, increasing his productivity by almost 50%. He estimated a cost of $400 for the laptop and $25 for the editing software. Through the duration of 6 Zidisha funded loans, ranging from $33 to $126, Felix was able to continue saving for his laptop.

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By January 2019, Felix found that his DIY lighting equipment was ready for an upgrade. He shared, ‘the DIY one I did is not so professional and it’s not very bright for very dark areas.’ His goal was to purchase an LED lightweight video light, which would cost about $80 and a rechargeable battery, for about $110. Between his own savings and his Zidisha funded loan, he knew he could reach his goal. This would also allow him to expand his services as he had previously rejected night time jobs due to his poor lighting.

Since February 2019, Felix has continued to make progress and has added some additional equipment including a Godox Universal flashlight, with the help of a $138 Zidisha funded loan and how he is saving to buy a Lumix GH4 Camera.

Felix has also recently branched out into designing flyers and graphic development. He found that his media clients were asking him for these services, so now he has an additional stream of income for his business. To ensure that he has the proper skills and training, he has even enrolled in a 3 month intensive Photoshop training.

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Felix’s Flyers

Today he is pleased with where he is in his business and shares with his lenders that, ‘Purchasing this high graphic laptop has been a dream come true and a move to make my wok more efficient and on time delivery of clients videos and photography works.’

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Felix with his family

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Felix? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring business owners that are changing their communities.






Reading is a Beautiful Culture

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wilson Wasonga has had a passion and love for books for as long as he can remember.  Born and raised in Kenya, he was able to continue his education up until the college level. And today, he is sharing that love for books with others as a books seller, as he likes to say, ‘reading is a beautiful culture.’

He has a family and children and after saving for ten years, he has been able to build his own home. His big audacious dream for himself is to be a financial independent man and he continues to work towards this goal as he builds his business and desires to open a school supermarket by the end of 2022.

He shares, ‘my major aim is to help those who cannot afford school products in learning days by renting them the used and new school books and stationary at a fees so that their children and themselves can get the required learning materials.’

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Wilson likes to say that he is a ‘books man.’ With only $4, he started his business in 2008 with a small stall. Since starting, he transparently shares that it’s not always easy. He says, ‘It is a challenging business because it has some peak months in January, February, April, August and December. So that is the time I get good business while part of the months the business provide availability to survive on.’

Between himself, his wife, and one employee, he is able to continue the business going while generating between $450-600 during the high season and between $300-400 during the low season.

Because of the seasonal nature of his work, when Wilson first discovered Zidisha, he knew that this would help him sustain his business during the rough off season. As a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, he received his first Zidisha funded loan in June 2018, where he started with $9 to purchase school stationary for his stall.

A few months later, he raised a second and then a third loan for $12 and $19 which enabled him to purchase pencils and calculators.

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Since then, Wilson has successfully raised 5 loans growing his business along the way. With these 5 loans he raised amounts of $41, $60, $264, $343, and $485. As 2018 came to a close Wilson continued to raise funds for his calculators using both the $41 and $60 specifically for this purpose.

By mid 2019, Wilson was ready to add additional paper to his inventory. With $264 from Zidisha lenders, he was able to purchase reams of papers at a cost of 380 Kenyan Shillings to be resold for 500 Kenyan Shillings.

Always keeping an eye on the market and his customer needs, Wilson decided to stock up on novels as July rolled around. He explained that during the months of July-September people enjoy relaxing with a book. With this in mind, Wilson was able to purchase a bulk order of books, around 400 novels. By selling each book for 150 Kenyan Shillings ($1.45 USD) he would be able to double his profit.

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Most recently, in August 2019, Wilson was able to raise, $485 for one of the most important times of the year, back to school. Using the loan to stock exams and back to school materials such as, ‘mathematical tables, rulers, calculators, rubbers, pencils, and pens.’ Because students are required to have all of their materials for the entire term, this is a great business season for Wilson!

Wilson is also proud that through the success of his business, he has been able to hire an employee. Creating employment for the unemployed members of his community is something that Wilson has dreamed of since starting his business, and now he is seeing this dream come to fruition. Wilson shares, ‘He thanks me as he had no job in the process, so thanks for putting a smile in his eyes.’

Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Wilson to be able to employ their own community members? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs.

Going Back To His Roots

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Stanely Njoroge, was born into a large family as the third born of a family of eight. As a child he was able to attend Kimorori Primary and and afterwards completed Kariguini Secondary where he received his KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) in 2008. Not having the funds to attend college, Stanley decided to start farming. Then, he received an opportunity to work at his uncles shop. Sadly, in 2015 the shop was attacked my robbers, stealing both money and shop inventory. This meant that his uncle would not be able to pay him, leaving him to find an alternative source of employment.

While the situation of being on his own wasn’t ideal, Stanley was able to make observations and come up with a simple business idea to get him started with entrepreneurship. His idea was to start selling plastic bags in the markets and in small shops throughout his town.

He explains his idea as he shares, ‘My business is selling plastic bags in the market and small shops. I chose this business because many people use plastic bags for carrying simple things from the market and shops, and it needed a small amount of capital.’

While he was able to get himself up and running, Stanley quickly realized that he would need an influx of cash to keep growing and hire additional workers, growth that he wouldn’t be able to make happen on his own. However, with the help of Zidisha, he’s been able to grow and expand.

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $100, Stanley was able to use 60% of the loan to increase his inventory and 40% of the loan to open a kiosk and hire an additional worker.

By the end of the year, Stanley was already coming up with new ideas for how to grow his business. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he was able to raise, $190. He used $50 of the loan to purchase additional inventory and used the remainder to buy a bicycle which he would be able to use to make transporting his inventory easier, rather than having to walk long distances.

By April 2017, Stanley was pleased with where his business was headed and was also appreciative for the increase in his standard of living. As he prepared for his third Zidisha funded loan, he shared, ‘My plan is to add all kinds of plastic bags in my business and to increase my stock at large. 1kg, 2kg, 3kg and 4kg will cost me $100. Also, I will add plastic hand bag known as Marlboro which will cost me $50. I will also buy v 22, v15, and v30 and that will cost me $50. I’m also planning to employ a coworker who will help me to supply bags from shop to shop which will increase my profit and save my time.’

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Like many other Zidisha entrepreneurs, Stanley eventually decided to pivot and move into a different business, going back to his roots, farming. With the help of a $337 loan from Zidisha lenders in July 2017, Stanley was able to purchase quality cabbage seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and a second hand water pumping generator. He also put a little money aside for land preparing costs and labor expenses as well.

Most recently, as of September 2019, Stanley is continuing to work hard and is still farming. With a September loan of $337, Stanley will be able to continue preparing his land, purchasing additional seeds, buying herbicides, fertilizer, pesticides, and tools. In addition, this loan will also enable him to buy a smartphone to help him run his business and he also requires some manual labor help.

On September 2, 2019, Stanley shared this encouraging update with his lenders, ‘My previous loan has helped me to improve my living standards and has helped me to raise my family and pay school fees for my siblings and also my parents in the village.’

Would you like to be able to help an entrepreneur like Stanley take his or her business to the next level? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners,


The Spirit of Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Anthony Ludeki says that he grew up with “a bigger vision, a bigger mind, a dream to become a medical surgeon…” He was able to continue his education and graduated from high school, and while he didn’t go on to become a surgeon…he’s still been able to infuse his dreams and vision into a new direction, entrepreneurship.

As a new entrepreneur, Anthony dove into the world of business by selling eggs and rearing chickens. In entrepreneurship, mindset is a key piece of the puzzle. Knowing that at least half of businesses fail is often enough to keep many dreamers from ever starting a business at all. Luckily for Anthony, he has the mindset that it takes to be successful. He even used his vision to grow his chicken rearing business from one chicken to 3000 hens.

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Then, after seeing success with his first business, he has now entered into the entertainment business where he sells movies, cassettes, DVD’s, and CD’s. This primarily consists of Gospel and Secular songs, as well as TV series.

And if that wasn’t enough, he shares, ‘I also run a video show where I show movies apart from selling them. Currently the generation that surrounds the environment where I stay is youthful. I mean 70% of my neighborhood consists of the youth who like watching such things, therefore it’s very worthwhile to sell them at affordable prices.’

Anthony first started working with Zidisha in 2015 and was able to go big with an initial loan of $252. While he’d already done well in his previous ventures, he found himself ready to diversify. At the time, he was selling DVD’s but imagined opening up a video show but lacked the capital to purchase the necessary television screen and DVD reader to make it happen.

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As a new borrower, in July 2015, Anthony was already witnessing the power of the lender-borrower relationship with Zidisha as he shared, ‘Dear lenders I once again take this opportunity to thank you uplifting my business, indeed I am doing well, and I urge you to continue with that spirit of supporting us young entrepreneurs. God bless you. I am so grateful for your good work. My business has really expanded and I speak to you now I have managed to employ two youth to assist me with the job and am able to pay them 200 shillings per day. Thanks a lot and God bless you.’

Over the next few years, Anthony found his egg selling business doing well, and made the decision to add a variety of other food stuffs to his inventory by opening a small retail shop. When people buy eggs, they often purchase other common ingredients such as, flour, sugar, rice, etc. and Anthony saw this as the perfect opportunity to grow. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he raised $389 from lenders and stocked up on key items including, sugar, rice, wheat flour, and other shop goods.

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As an entrepreneur dealing with suppliers, transportation can take a large chunk of profits. For Anthony, he found himself spending more than he would like transporting his stock from his suppliers to his retail shop. He shares, ‘I have been facing difficulties in terms of transportation of my stocks which has become very costly. For instance, on eggs I place two orders a week and since I purchase directly from the poultry farm the cost of transportation is on my side, so I always part away with 4 US dollars for every trip, so in a week I have to make two trips which translate to 8 US dollars every week. Same applies to cereals since I purchase them directly from farmers, I have to incur the cost of transportation. I can purchase for instance ten 90 KG bags of maize to ferry them to my store it will cost me 10 US dollars which is costly. This transportation cost has really affected my profits negatively.’

Fortunately, Anthony wasn’t going to let this small hurdle derail his business and future. Knowing that his Zidisha lenders had come through for him twice before, he called upon them a third time to find a solution to his problem. He realized that the best case scenario would be to acquire his own transportation source, and that’s exactly what he did. With the help of a $675 Zidisha funded loan, he purchased a motorbike of his own.

Even better, a motorbike has enabled him to start supplying eggs to small businesses in remote areas, something that he never would have been able to do without his own transportation.


While a motorbike might seem like a small change, it’s transformed Anthony’s business as he says, ‘The loan I used to buy a motorbike which has helped me positively in running my business. I use the motorbike to go and purchase my eggs I also use it to supply eggs to my customers. This has increased my daily sales thus increasing my profits.The number of eggs trays I was selling in a week before I had the motorbike, today I sell them in a day, that’s how that motorbike has changed the way I run my business. Thank you for the loan, my God bless you all as you continue supporting me financially.’

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Would you like to provide a loan that could completely change an entrepreneurs business? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read other inspiring stories just like Anthony’s.


Pursuing an Education

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Gideon Agyare Nkansah is a family man through and through. He has a lovely wife, named Mercy, and three children, 2 daughters and 1 son. His daughters names are Celine and Rhoda, and his son, the youngest, is Gerrit.

As a father, he believes so strongly in providing his children with a better education than he himself received. While he was able to make it to secondary school, the death of his father meant that he was no longer able to continue attending school. He shares, ‘I needed to work with building contractors to enable me to get some money to continue my education. I then continued my education in a technical school called Tema Technical Institute where I was offered a course in welding. After school, I wanted to open a welding shop on my own, but there was no support.’

Unable to find the support to get started on his own, he was able to find a job working with a company called, Ghacem Limited.

While Gideon may have been a salaried worker, it didn’t mean that he was without worries or financial concerns. While he was able to use his income from his job to support his family, he found that the additional burden of paying school fees on time for his children was a struggle.

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Before partnering with Zidisha, Gideon was often stressed and worried about paying for his children’s education.

When Gideon discovered Zidisha, he said, ‘With the help of a loan from Zidisha, this will help me pay my children’s school fees on time and they will never be sacked from school anymore and help them to get a better future, and it will also help me to achieve my goals in the future. Some of my goals are to build my own house, and set up a business on my own in the future.’

Since 2015, Gideon has been able to successfully use the Zidisha lending platform to make sure that his children are never forced to quit school, due to a lack of fees. Since his first loan in 2015, he has completed a total of five Zidisha funded loans ranging from $100 to $1,564. In 2015, upon receiving his first loan from Zidisha, his elder daughter, Celina, was in class 3, and his younger daughter, Rhoda, was in class 1.

The early academic years are critical for students in setting a good foundation that will allow them to flourish later on. When children are taken in and out of school, it’s often very difficult for them to catch up.

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With his second Zidisha funded loan, of $292 in July 2015, Gideon used $100 for Celine’s school fees, and $90 for Rhoda’s school fees, with $51 used for their textbooks. In order to successfully repay his Zidisha loan, Gideon planned to reduct $20.50 from his monthly income to repay the loan.

By May 2017, Gideon had raised 3 additional loans, providing his children with a stable education. Gideon shares, ‘Since I started taking loans from Zidisha, it has in fact helped me a lot by paying my children’s fees on time and they are never sacked from school. This loan is going to help improve my children’s education.’

Here is how Gideon was able to use his most recent loan, in May 2017:

1) Celine’s school fees: $400
2) Rhoda’s school fees: $380
3) Textbooks for both children: $200
4) Education accessories for both children: $150
5) Notebooks for both children: $200
6) Exercise books for both children: $150
7)Study fees for both children: $100

As a father, Gideon is proud to be able to partner with Zidisha to make sure that he can consistently pay the high school fees that allow his children to continue their education. He proudly shares, ‘My children’s education has improved, and I hope it will improve more since the loan helped me to pay their school fees and other education needs on time.’

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Would you like to help another parent like Gideon support their family or education? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha borrowers!