Providing Clean Drinking Water Throughout Goaso

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Eric Damoah Henneh was raised in Berekum and now lives in Goaso, in the Ahafo region of Ghana. Growing up, he was raised in a family of four with his parents and sister. As a student, he successfully completed his Senior High level studies.

He shares, ‘After my senior high School education there was no help from my parents to further my education so I traveled to Goaso to find some work to do and there I saw the people at that area find it difficult to get good drinking water for domestic uses so I decided to establish one at that area and in fact the business is helping me a lot to get some care for the family.’

In his free time, Eric loves going to the cinema, and watching football, movies, and tv shows.

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So far in his journey with Zidisha, Eric has successfully raised 6 loans. As a new borrower, his first loan amount was $13 and most recently he was able to raise $306. With his first two loans of $13 and $23 in May 2020, he purchased a variety of supplies for his business including: ‘pipe lines, sand, gravel, nail, cement, tiles, wheel barrow, bucket, and head pan. He also used part of the funds to pay for labor costs as well.

After seeing success with his first two loans, Eric raised $60 from lenders, allowing him to buy another poly tank to provide more water to the people in his community.

As the Covid-19 pandemic became more prolific in his community, Eric was at the forefront, prepared to keep his town ready with supplies. Early on, he noticed that people in his town were finding it difficult to purchase the supplies that they desperately needed. With 3 loans of $102, $174, and $306 across May and June, Eric has done his part by purchasing thousands of bottles of hand sanitizers, hand soaps, veronica buckets, and masks to sell in his community.

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As he returned to lenders to raise his $306 loan, Eric shared, ‘First and foremost I have established one hand washing center at my area and I want to establish another one at a different area so I need this loan to buy another ten (10000) litters of poly tank, cements, iron rhodes, pipe lines, face masks, hand gloves and hand Sanitizers to help fight against coronavirus (COVID 19 PANDEMIC) and I know through the help of Zidisha I am going to achieve this dream.’

Throughout 2020, Eric has been able to create massive change in his business and community through the help of supportive Zidisha lenders, as Eric shared on June 13th, ‘In fact the project has helped me a lot to see changes in my life because I have got something to care for my family and thanks to all Zidisha lenders for helping my dream come true and May the good Lord Almighty God bless you all.’

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Eric’s hand washing station

Would you like to support an entrepreneur who is ready to take action like Eric? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to get to know our business owners around the world.

A Lucky Opportunity

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is John and I come from Kenya. I am the first born in a family of eight, six boys and two girls.’ As a high school student, John was able to pass his advanced level courses and successful entered university where he studied Philosophy and Theology. Upon graduating, he received high honors and a good job offer working for the Child Welfare Society of Kenya. He says, ‘In this position I supported many orphans and vulnerable children to thrive well with good care and protection.’

Later on, John found himself in a tough position, jobless for several years and unable to find work. Through this, he discovered an opportunity, entrepreneurship. Since he wasn’t able to find a job, he created one for himself by opening a shop to sell groceries, cereals, and general goods. In addition to his shop, he also supplements his income by renting out plots where he’s planted tomatoes, potatoes, peas, and onions to sell at the market. He’s able to use the supplemental income to pay the school feels for his children to go to school.

Today John has a large family of his own, as his is married and has six children who are all in school, with some already in college. When he’s not working or spending time with his family he enjoys aerobics, jogging, and hiking. John explains, ‘I have done several hikes to almost all the big mountains in Kenya.’

Throughout his years 3.5 years with Zidisha, John has raised 11 Zidisha funded loans. Starting with a mere $5 loan in early 2017 to scale his grocery shop, he has come a long way in terms of growing his business. One of John’s first products to sell was rice. With a Zidisha funded loan of $8 in May, 2017, he began purchasing rice directly from the suppliers in the field, as buying directly would provide the best cost for his money.

Later on in 2017, John added a new product to his selection, selling red onions. Similar to his experience with rice, he bought directly from the farmers and then sold at retail to local hotels and restaurants. In fact, red onions turned out to be a very hot commodity as he developed a good relationship with farmers and his customers continued to come back because of the high quality.

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As 2018 rolled around, John found continued success with his produce! He also used a borrowed piece of land to plant celery and tomatoes of his own, utilizing a $57 loan from Zidisha lenders to help facilitate his progress.

Then, in early 2019, John received an unexpected addition, a green house! He explains, ‘I have been given a green house that has not been used by the owner for the last two years as she has been away. She has asked me if I would be interested to take the green house and the rest of the one acre farm. I will only pay her a lease agreement for the land going for two years. I want to invest in preparing the green house and then plant tomatoes in the green house. The long heavy rains are in the corner and during this time the price of tomatoes goes up and they become a very scarce commodity. If I could get funding to buy the seeds, prepare the greenhouse, fix the drip water piping system into the green house I will be good to get going. The green house is in very good condition and situated nearby a busy road where I could add some extra green vegetables in the farm and sale them by the road as the road is very busy with pedestrians, cars and other people.’

Like most people throughout the world, John and his community are witnessing the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses. In May 2020, John raised $416 to help keep his business moving forward as he shares with lenders, ‘I intend to begin buying cereals and vegetables from Central Kenya where they have had a bumper harvest for maize, beans and other cereals. With the rains many farmers have a surplus of vegetables and the market is low including low prices. But in the major towns life is difficult and food is scarce. Many people are not engaging in the business due to the COVID-19 lockdown. I have ready farmers upcountry with ready produce and vegetables for collection. I will get orders from local dealers here in the city neighborhoods and organize with the farmers to get me my LPOs and load it into the van for transportation to my destination. I have been doing a market study of the demand in the market for cereals and especially vegetables and it’s an all time high with the lockdown. I will build my start up slowly and gradually create a niche for myself in the supply of fresh green bananas, tomatoes, greens, lettuces, local vegetables plus rice and beans from Kirinyaga County.’

Would you like to positively impact a business owner impacted by Covid-19 like John? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about resourceful Zidisha entrepreneurs around the world.


Actualizing His Vision

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Dismas Kipsongok grew up in Nandi county, Kenya with his sister and single mother. He explains, ‘Growing up in a rural setting with financial challenges and lack of better amenities, I decided to work hard in school to actualize my vision of a better life ahead. After completing my primary I proceeded to Secondary level. Though with fees challenges my mother faced, I managed to complete my Secondary Education in 2009, and joined College two years later, 2012. I enrolled and studied a national Diploma in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and successfully graduated in 2015 with Credit at Alphax College in Eldoret.’

Today, Dismas operates a computer training center in his hometown called, ‘Nandi Digital Center.’ As he first started in business, he was fortunate to have his own savings from previous jobs, as well as the help of a friend.

Within the business he has four desktop computers and a laptop. Regarding this services he shares, ‘I am offering affordable basic IT training to people, mostly the youth, and at the same time serving a variety of cyber services, including online government businesses like e-Citizen, TSC registrations, iTax, printing, scanning, photocopying among others. The Center also doubles up as a Playing Station for children who usually come to play PC games on weekends.’

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With the help of Zidisha lenders, Dismas has been able to raise 5 Zidisha funded loans since becoming a member of the Zidisha community in 2017.

With his first Zidisha loan of $40 in May 2017, Dismas purchased extension cords as he explained, ‘I will buy extension cords to rearrange the hub’s layout and create more space for clients.’

As Dismas continued to reflect on his business and how he could improve, he knew that the next purchase he wanted to make was a printer. As he says, ‘When I serve customers who need hard-copies, I usually load the document to my flash disk and rush to a nearby office to print. Though printing is relatively cheap if pages are few, this trend has gradually cost me a considerable amount of money especially when the hard copies are many. I have decided to buy a business printer that would enable me do three tasks on the same machine: that is (1) Printing, (2) Scanning and (3) Photocopying. With its ability to print photos and many types of cards, which is quite lucrative, my business earnings would increase, since I will stop outsourcing the print jobs.’

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Over the course of his next three Zidisha funded loans, Dismas was able to use the money he received to purchase his printer. Following the printer purchase, he also raised $105 to buy stock printing materials.

Following his first few Zidisha funded loans, Dismas took to his discussion page and shared, ‘Thanks Zidisha! I am excited to have completed repaying my loan that has made my business improve. Thanks to lenders here who are making positive transformation in our lives and entrepreneurship.’

Most recently, in May 2020, Dismas raised $317 from Zidisha lenders as he explained, ‘This loan will help buy necessary equipment for newly introduced short courses and learning materials, buying ink tanks for refilling the printer, including the ream of papers. It will also boost the new introduction of advanced short courses in computer training, and its marketing costs, among other business operations. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NDC decided to follow the government’s orders of sanitizing and social distancing. Therefore, the business operations will follow these rules and operate on a lean budget to cushion the business, thus saving money that will be able to repay the loans.’

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Would you like to impact the lives of entrepreneurs like Dismas? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to learn more about our Zidisha business owners around the world.

Supplying His Community During Covid-19

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is Mark Vingo Zakayo, a diploma graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology with a diploma in information technology.’ After gaining 3 years of work experience in IT firms, Mark decided to venture into entrepreneurship, and work for himself.

Like many new entrepreneurs, Mark struggled at first to get his footing to find the right business sector and model. He shares, ‘from 2010 I have been involved in three different types of business which two didn’t succeed, namely Printing and branding and government construction tenders. Then in January 2018 I met a friend of mine from High school who introduced me the laboratory supplies. There after I registered a sole proprietor by the name VIZAK ENTERPRISES and the business started to grow from there.’

One of the reasons why Mark is such an inspiration is that he found the resilience to pivot and keep trying, even when his first two businesses didn’t work out for him. Learning something new always requires more patience and persistence than many people are willing to give.

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To provide more details on his business, Mark says, ‘VIZAK ENTERPRISES deals in supply of laboratory reagents, Laboratory test kits, hospital non pharmaceuticals, surgicals, hospital equipment and general hospital consumables supplies and I have been supplying this products to hospitals and medical clinics around Nairobi city and its environments and hospital cross the country for the last 2 years.’

While Mark is a new member of the Zidisha community, joining in early 2020, he is already making big strides. So far, he has raised 5 Zidisha funded loans and has been able to maintain a 100% repayment record, paying all of his loans on time.

To paint a picture of how Mark has utilized these loans, he has been able to purchase sample containers, blood sugar testing strips, latex gloves, alcohol based sanitizer, syringes, needles, blood vacutainer tubes. In addition, with the current spread of coronavirus, this has also increased his stock of surgical face masks, hand sanitizers, infrared thermometers, latex powdered and non powdered gloves, and shoe covers for health workers.

Because Mark supplies his products directly to local health providers, he is able to make a difference and impact his community during this global pandemic.

Mark explains his journey to his current business explaining, ‘As the majority of you know the health sector is growing very fast and medical clinic, health centers and hospitals are being established almost every place to cater for the growing populations in the country, therefore my products are a must for every laboratory either in a hospital or operating on its own. This is basically one of the main reasons why I ventured into the business, the demand for laboratory items is very high yet the suppliers are very few due to the technicalities involved in the business.’

Mark also appreciates that his business is very cost effective and his costs are limited to a yearly business license, supplies, an office space, and a single employee for deliveries.

Recently on May 16, 2020, Mark wrote on his discussion page and thankfully shared this update with his lenders, ‘I want to take this opportunity to thank the lenders for granting my request for the loan. These funds will go a long way in helping my business and during this pandemic, it will also enable me to continue providing for my family and the people that depend on my business for a living. Thank you very much and God bless you abundantly.’

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Would you like to impact the life of a persistent entrepreneur like Mark? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other inspiring Zidisha business owners all over the world.

A Cleaner City for the People of Accra

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Emmanuel Piirong shares, ‘My early life has been around an environment full of life and green. My father was a public servant who still loved his farming activities on a piece of land where he had his quarters. He grew everything we ate and used the waste which came out of his backyard farm and left over food for something very important which is linked to his hobby. I then learned from that stage what it means to see value in everything around us including what most people will term as waste. I developed an interest in wanting to see my environment as clean as possible from any kind of waste.’

As a student, Emmanuel studied business courses as a high schooler and later earned a BSc degree in Business Administration.

Emmanuel works hard to balance his primary job with his side business. As his main source of income, he works with a government agency in Ghana called NIA (National Identification Authority). On top of this, as a side business, he has been working in plastic waste management since 2016. Initially, he would buy plastic waste from households and would sell re-sell the goods to recycling plants. Sadly, a flood on June 3, 2016, put him out of business.

After the flood, Emmanuel was able to pivot his business model and now he creates concrete blocks, pavement bricks, and roofing tiles from plastic and sand using the plastic waste that he collects from his business collaborators. He says, ‘Collaborators are motivated with some amounts of monies, house hold items and educational materials for their wards as a form of compensation to keep our relationship.’

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Using his business training as a foundation, Emmanuel is continuing to learn and grow as an entrepreneur, as he says, ‘ I am an entrepreneur who sees opportunities in my environment and takes advantage of them. I have a passion for a clean and pollution free environment. I love nature and I believe that there is nothing called waste here on mother earth. Ghana, the country in which I live has potential opportunities for both citizens and the entire continent of Africa but the the poor management of resources has landed the country in abject poverty. My dream is to contribute to the clean Ghana campaign which has been started for some time so that my children can grow up in a country in which they believe and are proud of.’

When he’s not eagerly pursuing his dreams, Emmanuel loves sitting along the lovely coasts of Ghana and enjoying nature.

Throughout his short time with Zidisha, Emmanuel has been able to raise 5 Zidisha funded loans, allowing him to grow and expand within his business. With each of the loans, Emmanuel has used his funds to buy plastic waste collections bags that his distributes to his collaborators.

Through his work, Emmanuel appreciates that he is able to serve two important purposes. The first is obviously to keep the environment clean from pollution. Second, he loves that his work is able to provide some additional income for each of his collaborators.

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Most recently, in April, 2020, Emmanuel raised $341 from the Zidisha community and explained, ‘As a continuing business, gradually expanding my territory means that I have to increase my operational activities. One major way of expanding is to increase my inventory. It is even more crucial because in these times since most household members are locked inside their homes. This means that the per person plastic waste disposal in homes are going to really increase. I will therefore buy more waste from my collaborators than before increasing my inventory target, hence my profitability. Waste collection and disposal business is marked as an essential service here in Ghana. This is because the inefficient waste disposal has cost the country a lot, leading to perennial flooding especially in the capital. First of all, my business is allowed to work during this pandemic era. However, there are compulsory standard precautionary measures that everyone working or coming into contact with other people must adhere to. I have therefore decided to get more PPE for myself and the two other gentlemen I work with. Once we have this in place, we are good to work and earn money by continually picking our plastic waste from our various collaborators.’

Upon receiving his loan in April, Emmanuel took to his discussion page to share his appreciation with the Zidisha community as he said, ‘Hello Lenders, I am with deep gratitude with this new loan. It will help me to increase my inventory and ultimately profitability. This also means a cleaner city for the people of Accra. Once again, thank you all.’

Would you like to impact the life and community of an entrepreneur like Emmanuel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other inspiring Zidisha business owners all over the world.