Learning To Be Self Dependent

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Philip Kibiwott Chelilim was born and raised in the small town of Turbo, Kenya, not far from the city of Eldoret. As a young adult, he was educated at Moi University and earned his degree in Finance.

He vulnerably shares, ‘I overcame hardship through learning to be self dependent through looking for other avenues of earning income and I managed to achieve this through being self employed; starting my own business.’

Using his own personal savings, Philip decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. More specifically, he earns his living making wood furniture which he then sells to a large customer base consisting of: individuals, schools, offices, hotels, restaurants, and hospitals.’

Catering to such a wide variety of customers has been a great strategy for Philip, allowing him to spread his brand awareness throughout his own community and serving many customers and businesses in the process.

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Philip succinctly explains, ‘I started my business in 2014 when I was still in the University. These goods are in huge demand because institutions and individuals cannot do without them and are part and parcel of their daily lives and operations. I chose this kind of business because of its feasibility and sustainability economically.’

In terms of monthly typical business costs, Philip typically spends about $1,000 on timber, $100 on electricity, $300 towards labor, $20 for business permits, $100 on logistics, and about $100 for other miscellaneous costs. In general, he brings in a gross revenue of $3,200 dollars a month.

Through his business, Philip is able to continually reinvest in his business, as well as support his siblings by paying their school fees.

Outside of running a business, Philip enjoys spending his time reading novels and making new friends, and truly loves the sense of unity and togetherness that his culture exemplifies.

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While he might be fairly new to the Zidisha community, he is off to a great start with an impressive 100% repayment rate for his loans.

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $15, Philip shared his goals for the funds as he explained, ‘With this loan I am going to buy a CNC router machine for 3D wood carving. This will enable me to make quality and durable furniture thus making better items readily available to the customers.’

Shortly thereafter, Philip was able to raise a second Zidisha funded loan, adding more timber to his business. Through this he hoped to increase his profit margins by 2%.

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Recently, in March and April, 2020, Philip was faced with the problem that most business owners dream of, a surge in customers! With an increase in demand, Philip was able to utilize two additional Zidisha funded loans, for $175 and $297 to purchase additional timber. This included a huge order from a local hospital for 15 hospital beds.

On March 5, 2020, Philip took to his discussion page and shared with his lenders, ‘With the loan I received, I bought timber for my furniture. This made me increase the items in my shop and made more products available for my clients. My earnings increased by about 1.6%. I plan to use the profits to buy more timber.’

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Would you like to help a business owner like Philip boost their inventory and business? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read above dozens of other hardworking entrepreneurs all around the world.


Against All The Odds

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

While a disability might be enough to discourage some young adults from pursuing their dreams, that’s not at all the case for Hagan Golo. He shares, ‘I am 39 years old and the last among eight siblings. I was born in Dambai a farming and fishing community along the Volta lake. At age six I suffered a polio attack and therefore had been with disability on one leg till today. Even with my disability and being the last with my aged parent, I supported my parents in farming and fishing.’

Hagan is nothing short of an inspiration as he often trekked long distances with the use of crutches in order to receive an education. He continues, ‘Against all the odds I was able to complete my basic education and passed Basic Education certificate Exams successfully. Since most secondary schools within the area lack facilities for kids with disability, I stayed home for two years without going to Secondary or Technical School. The fear for my parent was that I can’t cope with secondary school alone in the boarding house where washrooms, classrooms etc. were not disability friendly.’

After being at home for two years, he then successfully entered a technical and vocational school to gain additional skills. With an impressive performance in his classes and on his exams, he then was accepted to Ghana Technology University to study Telecommunication Engineering.

For Hagan, joining the Zidisha community has been an excellent opportunity to continue his studies and pay his school fees, as he hopes to finish his Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and possibly even a PhD.

In his own words, ‘With this assistance from Zidisha, finances are no more headaches to me any longer and I can get more concentration on academic work with practice on problem solving engineering practicals that can add more value to myself. I believe strongly that with my creativity, innovations and skills, I can use my engineering background to liberate my community from the shackles of poverty, and then make a meaningful living for my people for the years to come. I have a strong conviction that by the time I complete my study at the university; I will come out with some work using Science, Technology and Innovation for Poverty Reduction in my community and beyond.’

In the future, Hagan envisions being able to help other schools in expanding their science and engineering courses in rural communities where these subjects are often overlooked.

In his time with Zidisha, since the beginning of 2018, Hagan has raised 8 Zidisha funded loans ranging in size from $113 to $486. These loans, from Zidisha lenders all over the world, have enabled Hagan to pay his school fees, support his housing costs, and purchase course materials, books, and school supplies such as, pens, pencils, drawing papers, and photocopies.

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Recently, on Mar 27, 2020, Hagan wrote on his Zidisha discussion page to share his gratitude for his lenders and the Zidisha community at large. ‘Can’t imagine how my world would have been without Zidisha loans. Thank you to all my lenders for supporting my dream. You made me forget those difficult days when things were so bad for me financially. Thank you for your rescue, God richly bless you all. You made my study on campus good for me.’

Would you like to support the education of an inspiring student like Hagan? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about Zidisha students and entrepreneurs around the world.



Zidisha Has Really Improved My Family

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

“It has been a long journey and challenging especially when it comes to limited funds to sustain a consistent supply to my client,” shares Madesto Waswa. Like many entrepreneurs, Madesto has experienced his share of struggles and ups and downs in his life. Going back to his younger years, Madesto was educated at Strathmore University where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree and attended college from 2010-2013.

Upon receiving his degree, his gained real world experience working as an Assistant Manager at Tristan Marketing. Following that experience, he moved on to MBSI where he obtained a position as Operations Manager. After these two work experiences, he was ready to go out on his own and start his own venture.

To describe his current business, Madesto says, ‘My business deals with supply of vegetables fruits and cereals in massive quantity to schools and hotels on a daily basis. Then at the end of the month I get paid in cash or cheque.’ His office and stalls are in the Bungoma area and he’s found that the goods that he offers are in high demand in his community. Today his business is performing so well that it is the sole source of income for his family.
As a member of the Zidisha community for over 3 years, Madesto has found his stride in successfully raising funds to grow and expand his business. Since joining, Madesto has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $11 to $1,380.
Upon becoming a Zidisha member, Madesto saw the potential that these loans would have to allow him to pay suppliers on time, purchase extra packaging materials, local transportation for the farmers to travel to and from his shop, and airtime for communication with clients. In addition, he also saw this as an opportunity to add to his existing working capital.

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With his second Zidisha funded loan, in October 2016, Madesto found himself able to purchase an HP flash disk for his laptop as he says, ‘The memory for the flash will be 4GB. It will benefit me for that because I will use the new flash disk to replace the lost one so that I can use it to keep files and documents of my business.’

Shortly thereafter, with a loan of $82 in December 2016 and a loan of $389 in March 2017, Madesto greatly expanded his current stock of products buying fruits, vegetables, cereals, and other items. He was also able to set aside part of the loan to cover his rent for his business as well.

Reflecting on his experience with Zidisha, Madesto took to his discussion page on July 12, 2017 and humbly shared, ‘I would like to take this chance and appreciate my dear lenders for the support they have given me and even the basic financial experience I have learnt from Zidisha. I duly appreciate by continuing working with you and your financial support. Thank you.’

The following year, in 2018, Madesto successfully raised a $641 loan with the intention to purchase two laptops to make data entry easier for his staff. He explains, ‘This will enable proper book keeping of gross turnover sales of my business.’

Since then, he has also raised loans of $995 in January 2019, and $1,380 in March 2020. With these, Madesto was able to purchase a television and also expand his shop and add additional household items to his business inventory.

Over the past few years Madesto has come a long way in his business and says, ‘Zidisha has really improved both my family and my lifestyle. Everything is going on right. Because of you, I have never thought of taking a loan from another financial institution other than Zidisha. God bless you all.’


Would you like to impact the life of a business owner like Madesto? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read dozens of inspiring stories of entrepreneurs all around the world.


Meteorologist By Day Entrepreneur At Night

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Amos Muthama is a Meteorologist by profession. For his college years, he received his first degree in Meteorology from the University of Nairobi. Then, earned a Master’s degree in Physics with the Institute for Meteorological Training and Research.

Now, he is currently employed by the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport working as a Meteorologist for air traffic control.
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In addition to his work in Meteorology, he is also a budding entrepreneur, as a member of the Zidisha community. Amos operates a shop at Makindu where he sells food items. He’s also a landlord and set up a cyber cafe which is attached to his shop. In terms of his salary and income, Amos shares, ‘I have a salary from my employer every month of 100,000, rental houses of 40,000 per month and my business shop gives an average of 35,000 per month.’


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When Amos first got started with Zidisha, he was already operating his shop, but had dreams of also running a cyber cafe as well. Through his partnership with Zidisha, Amos has been able to bring this dream to fruition. So far, in his time with Zidisha, he has proudly raised 10 Zidisha funded loans.

With his first few Zidisha funded loans, Amos was able to slowly expand his stock within his business. He happily shared, ‘These items will bring more money and thus more profit to my baraka shop business. I will buy more items for my shop and I will create more business for my customers in my shop. I will enlarge my small business to bigger one which can make huge profit than the one I have been getting.’

By July 2019, Amos was ready to continue receiving Zidisha funded loans, now with the intent to purchase computers for his newly opened cyber cafe. Amos then successfully raised two more loans in 2019, one for $200 in September and another for $400 in November as he explained, ‘I will use the money to buy more items in the shop for expansion for more profit. I will also buy cyber cafe equipment for the new shop project for variety business….I highly appreciated your money which really helped me for my business growth.’

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So far, in 2020, Amos has continued to raise funds to expand his goods in his shop and to also purchase additional laptops and equipment for his cyber cafe.

Recently, on March 20, 2020,  Amos took to his discussion page and expressed his thanks to lenders as he said, ‘I highly thank all my lenders who wholeheartedly funded my loan into full amount when I know that this amount will highly help to improve my business….may God all of them plentiful….’

Would you like to empower other entrepreneurs like Amos? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to find out more about Zidisha business owners all over the world.