Starting With a Spool of Thread

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Born in Accra, Ghana, Cynthia Ama Ohenewaa grew up in a large family, as the sixth of eight children. For work, both of her parents did subsistence farming and petty trading.

Sadly, after the death of her mother, life was challenging, as she vulnerably shares, ‘Things became difficult for us after the death of our mother, however I managed my mother’s petty trading and vegetable farming to pay my school fees. Hawking during vacation periods, weekends and after school hours to get money for supporting the family is the order of the day.’

Cynthia is a remarkable example of hard work and persistence as she has now completed university and in the future hopes to go back to school to earn a master’s degree. In her day job, Cynthia works for Beige Capital where she holds the title of Compliance Officer.

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In addition to her primary employment, Cynthia also operates a side business where she sells local sandals, beads, slippers, beaded tissue boxes, and women’s bags. She’s been able to successfully sell her items wholesale at the local market. An added bonus is that she’s been doing so well that she’s even employed two workers to assist her in the market centers. These two employees each earn a monthly salary of 400 GHS.

For Cynthia, her business has been a way for her to gain financial security in order to supplement her family income as her father is at an age where he is unable to continue working. She explains, ‘With the Zidisha support, I’m able to earn regular income from my trade and employment, hence I’m able to pay family bills and put food on the family table.’

As a two year veteran of the Zidisha community, Cynthia has been able to continually grow her business, supplying more goods to her customers and allowing herself to earn a greater profit.

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So far, in her time with Zidisha, Cynthia has been able to raise 8 Zidisha funded loans starting with a $137 loan in March 2017. With this first loan she shared, ‘I need this loan to rent a store so that after the manufacturing of the beads, sandals and lady’s bag I display the goods there for sale. By so doing I can reach out to many customers and then increase my profit margin and also employ more hands and by so doing reducing unemployment.’

A few months later, Cynthia successfully raised her second Zidisha funded loan, this time raising $205 in order to supply her business with additional materials to make sandals, beads, and bags to sell.

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Since that second loan, Cynthia has raised 6 more loans through Zidisha, and with each one she has continued to enhance her supply of materials such as, ‘thread, leather, beads, slippers for sandals, wax print, and accessories.’

Cynthia is proud that through her business she is able to support 2 workers, and possibly more in the future. In this way, she is helping to reduce unemployment and seeking to empower her workers with meaningful work.

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Would you like to impact the lives of entrepreneurs like Cynthia? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other Zidisha business owners all over the world.

Leading The Way

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Josphat Mwiti is from the Eastern side of Kenya in Meru county. Today he is proud to be both a business owner and also a husband and father to two children.

As a child, Josphat experienced hardships, as the first born, and losing his father to illness when Josphat was young. He shares, ‘my mum who is a small farmer continued paying my school fees which was hard for her but we were assisted by my local Methodist church in the village. After I did my final exam, I came to Nairobi city to look for a job and I was employed as a loader and I was able to help my mum to cater for my 2 sisters and 2 brothers.’

Josphat knew that he had a keen interest in IT and followed his curiosity, pursuing a college level IT course. He explains, ‘from there I interacted with more learned peoples especially my mentor in business who taught me a lot including basic computer repair, formatting [software and hardware] and business management.’

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During this time, Josphat started saving a little money at a time, by 2014, he was able to purchase 5 second hand computers. Then, in July 2014, he also purchased two HP printers and with his computers and printers, he started his own cyber cafe and also offered money transfer services (Mpesa). In his business he’s been able to offer a variety of services including: money transfer services, printing, typing, laminating, binding, basic computer training, photo printing, and PC gaming for children.

In addition, he’s also able to help customers with government application such as, ‘payslips, ticketing, passports, and drivers licenses.’

Joshphat also describes the training side of his business as he shares, ‘Computer services, and training is in demand because schools are around and my cyber is at the entrance of the estate, also schools make photocopy more demand. I chose this business to help society and make a profit to help my mum to educate my brothers.’

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Since starting his business and joining Zidisha in 2014, Josphat has seen consistent growth in his business. Through his profits and the help of Zidisha lenders, he’s been able to expand his business and also pay school fees for his brother. He also hopes to give back by offering a sponsorship for computer training within his cafe for children that would not be able to afford his services.

Sharing his love for children, he says, ‘I love children, that’s why I gave them the opportunity to play on my PC but in the future I will buy a PS2 play station. My vision is to teach people entrepreneurship through IT. . By that I think there will no cry of unemployment in Kenya and the entire world.’

Since becoming part of the Zidisha community in 2014, Josphat has raised an impressive number of Zidisha funded loans (12 in total). With his first loan of $50, he used the funds to help pay for an additional printer for his cyber cafe.

With his first 7 Zidisha funded loans, Josphat found himself able to purchase an additional printer, chairs for customers, a computer, photocopy papers, and other stock supplies.

From 2016-2020, as Josphat found that his primary business was well-established and stable, he decided to branch out and pursue additional business ideas as well, including, a barber business, a business selling gas cylinders and serving as a refilling point, agency banking, and a motorbike taxi service.

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During this period of extensive transition and change, Joshphat took to his discussion page and shared the following update with his lenders on October 6, 2019, ‘Hello Lenders, I first thank you for the loan you have contributed to me, my life has really changed. When I look three years back and where I am today I can say I am doing good. This include my family and the people I assist on my daily basis like my employee who has the motorcycle (taxi) and my mum. Thank you once again.’

Through his additional businesses and income streams Josphat has been able to diversify his income, increase his earnings, and also supply employment to several members of his community.

As he continues to dream and look forward to the future Joshphat shares, ‘I look forward to be more helpful to the community around by introducing technology services through computer training and believing one day my business will go another high level through ZIDISHA. Thanks a lot lenders.’

Would you like to significantly impact the life of an entrepreneur like Josphat? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring business owners throughout the Zidisha community.


A Sewing Sensation

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Samuel Appiah was raised in Akim Oda in the eastern region of Ghana and now lives in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. As a student, Samuel attended school through his senior year of secondary school and was always very interested in art.

He shares, ‘I had many opportunities in various kinds of work institutions but never felt so good with it until I was one day told and inspired by my church choir leader on my way back home from rehearsal.’

Samuel recalls his choir leader encouraging him to, ‘create what you love doing most for yourself and the people around you in order to feel fruitful…’ Using this motivation and encouragement, Samuel took his meager savings to pursue his love of sewing and fashion.

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In his business, Samuel has now had one employee and three apprentices. Unfortunately, in the fashion business, the required upfront costs of buying fabrics, materials, and labor, can make it difficult for business owners to either get up and running or pursue new business. Because of this, partnering with Zidisha has been a game changer for Samuel as he is able to raise the necessary funds to go out and find new business.

Upon receiving his first few Zidisha funded loans, Samuel gratefully shared with his lenders, ‘Once again, my lenders are putting smiles on my face, it’s amazing to see them here on my list. Thanks to you all. May you all live long to be more blessings to many less privileged people around the Globe.’

The name of Samuel’s business is Divine Fashion and he says, ‘We are into fashions; sewing all kinds of unisex clothing especially African wears to the market and any one interested both in and outside the country.’ Since joining Zidisha in mid 2019, he’s been able to to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans, starting with a modest $14 loan in June.

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Upon gaining a contract, Samuel found that his biggest needs were purchasing materials for dress making and bringing in more workers. Starting out, he also set an intention and dream of gaining work and customers outside of Ghana.

With each new Zidisha funded loan, Samuel has been able to edge himself closer and closer to his dream, buying additional fabrics, paying his workers, and gaining new customers.

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For Samuel, it is a joy to see his friends and family members wear his beautiful pieces of clothing. He also shares to, ‘Never get discouraged by your twist and turns in life. These ups and downs are tough but remember it is there to test us, to prepare us to that which we want and are eager to attain in life. Success to you members here, and long live Zidisha!!’

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur and creator like Samuel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring business owners in the Zidisha community.


An Entrepreneurial Hustler

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Albert Mutoya is a Zambia citizen and an entrepreneurial hustler. Growing up with a single parent and in a family of 4, he quickly learned to overcome challenges. He shares, ‘finances were a challenge. I wanted to pursue a degree in IT but rather diverted to study a certificate in Insurance in 2013 because that would save me more money and time.’

Wanting to continue his studies, he was able to later study in the area of loss adjustment claims, continuing to slowly build up his resume.

Currently, he holds the title of Corporate Business Assistant as he is working in a private insurance company and saving as much as he can to put towards his dreams and future.

In the field of entrepreneurship, there is often a lot of trial and error. While an entrepreneur might start with one idea, he or she could pivot and try multiple routes before finding the right fit. And this is exactly where Albert is right now. Selling multiple products and services is allowing Albert to get experience in different areas. In addition, this is also enabling him to diversify, rather than depending on all of his income from one income stream.

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Starting out on his Zidisha journey, Albert shared with lenders that he had 7 big business ideas for the future including:

  1. Opening a business center with mobile money services (Zoona, Kazang, Zanaco Express, and FNB express).
  2. Opening a business center for phone accessories.
  3. Opening a restaurant in one of the busy parts of Lusaka.
  4. Opening a barber shop.
  5. Venturing into the transportation business to improve the transport sector in Zambia.
  6. Venturing into farming to help promote food security in Zambia.
  7. My last and important future plan is something that will help me return to the community. An orphanage home for children, youth empowerment, and responding to disaster relief charities.

Since joining Zidisha in mid 2019, Albert has moved full force ahead, raising an impressive 9 Zidisha funded loans in 6 short months. So far, he has experimented with selling rice, phone accessories, talk time, electricity units, and more.

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Albert’s first Zidisha funded loan was for $9 in July 2019, helping him to boost his rice business as he says, ‘The loan once acquired will assist me to boost my rice business because it will be easier for me to transport the packaged rice from the supply point to the desired customers….This in turn will help me gain customer loyalty and satisfaction and have a higher profit margin since goods will be delivered faster than I usually do on my feet.’

Finding success with his first loan, he successfully raised two more in July for $15 and $24, enabling him to order additional fitness watches and phone accessories to sell. For Albert, Zidisha has been an important asset in allowing him to have the funds to meet the demands of his customers and also provide his products on time to his customers.

The following month, in August, he raised 3 Zidisha funded loans for $35, $51, and $86. With these loans he was able to keep some money on hand to buy additional inventory as needed. Plus, he was also ready to purchase a laptop, for the purpose of reselling it.

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By September, Albert was ready to continue purchasing additional laptops to resell, using a $172 loan from Zidisha lenders to help make it happen.

As the end of the year approached, Albert came up with another idea to earn a little extra income. He could use his vehicle as a taxi service business, and hire an employee to drive, allowing him to focus on his other projects but still bringing in some income. To make sure that his car was in top shape, he used $249 from Zidisha to have his vehicle serviced. This also gave him the opportunity to provide employment for a deserving member of his community.

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Most recently, in December, Albert ended 2019 with his largest loan yet, $399 to boost his supply of rice for his eager customers. He shared, ‘As we are nearing to the end of the year, there are a lot of celebration activities that take place. Once my loan has been funded and received, I will use this opportunity to order rice to supply my clients on time. This will help me boost my capital and increase my income.’

Over the past 6 months, Albert has been able to try out multiple business ideas, through the help of amazing Zidisha lenders. As he nears the end of 2019 and heads into 2020, Albert can continue to pivot and refine, finding what works best for him and his customers.

Would you like to help other Zidisha entrepreneurs to boost their income and resources? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects Page to read about our inspiring business owners all over the world.