All in the Family

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

For John Chomba, running his business is a family affair. By day, he is a primary school teacher, and works on his business in his free time. Fortunately, his wife co-runs the business with him and manages the shop while he’s at his day job.

John shares, ‘I have opened a small business with my wife. We sell different types of household items like sugar, rice, maize and wheat flour, some cereals, cooking oil, detergents and many others. I buy these goods in wholesale and then later sell them to my customers in retail. It’s a good business because one cannot stay without making a sale during the day. I fund it using the small income from my teaching job. I use my profit to expand the business. I am planning to start selling some of the products in wholesale like sweets, rice, sugar, sanitary towels and others. l would like to improve my shop now that our country is gradually reopening the economy and business will start to pick up well.’

Earlier this year, as the pandemic was in full force, John was able to raise funds from Zidisha lenders to keep his shop stocked and in operation. Between May and September this year, he has raised 6 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $6 to $587.

Through his loans with Zidisha, John has stocked up his shop with items such as, ‘flour, sugar, rice, cooking oil, detergent, plastic items, beans, maize, millet, and cereals.’

Because of his partnership with Zidisha, John has also been able to purchase new items in bulk, and take fulfillment requests from his customers, building trust with his customers as he continues to listen to their requests and meet their needs.

As John recently raised his largest loan yet, of $587, he shares how the economy is starting to pick up as he writes, ‘The demand for foodstuffs in my area has shot up. This means that the supply for foodstuffs in the area is low. I am taking this chance to supply. l will buy millet worth 20000, maize worth 8000, green grams worth 8000, beans worth 20000 and cooking oil worth 5000. I will also supplement my business with Nikos and plastics materials worth 2000. All these materials, l will buy in wholesale and sell in retail. Now the economy has opened in our country. There is circulation of money in the market. My commodities are fast moving products and I make sales daily. I also employed and I can use this income to supplement my repayment of the loan.’

For side hustler’s like John, having a side business is a great way to earn an extra income, especially during times of uncertainty. In addition, because of the trust and loyalty that he’s earned with his customers, he’s able to continually serve their needs and provide exactly what they need and want.

Would you like to make a significant impact in the life of a Zidisha entrepreneur? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our inspiring business owners around the world.

I’m an Entrepreneur

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I’m an entrepreneur working in dairy and poultry farming,’ shares Catherine Kusimba. Originally, she got started in poultry farming to support herself and to be able to care for her mother, who had been disabled in a road accident.

She shares where she is today as she says, ‘I worked hard in poultry farming and through Zidisha, I was able to rear over 300 chicken for sale of meat and eggs. This venture really improved my standard of living and also care for my mother. My ultimate goal was to venture into dairy farming of which I now have 4 milkers with a production of 65 litres a day. This was possible after I sold a parcel of land I had acquired years ago. I practice zero grazing so I have to buy fodder and water for the cows. They are now all incalf and start calving down late July consecutively.’

With her milk sales, Catherine is able to earn $.50 cents USD per liter selling wholesale and $.60 cents USD per liter selling retail. Her customers include: individual households, hotels, and local shops. With her profits, she’s able to purchase feeds, supplements, minerals, and also pay her workers. Additional funds are put towards her home expenses and medication for her mother.

Catherine explains, ‘My business currently is mainly dairy farming. I have 4 milkers (Holstein Fresian cows) with an average production of 65 liters currently. I thank the Zidisha Team for enabling me get this far especially when I needed funds for purchasing feeds, poultry equipment and even buying the chicks.’

With 10 Zidisha funded loans since June 2018, Catherine has been able to continually grow and make changes to her business.

In her time with Zidisha, Catherine has purchased 200 chicks, bought vaccines for the chickens, and purchased feeds, fodder, a water tank, a cowshed, pipes, and machinery.’ Through these improvements, Catherine now has a strong diversified farming business, with cows, chickens, and vegetables.

On Apr 26, 2020, Catherine took to her discussion page and shared the impact of her most recent loan, ‘Dear Lenders, I am very grateful for the previous loan granted which I used to add on to the funds that I had saved for a long time to purchase a 10,000 liters water tank. This came in handy during this rainy season as I’m able to harvest rain water for my livestock. Water for the livestock is a big challenge because it eats into the profit gained. The tank will store water that will last for at least 2 months after the rainy season. I’m still hoping to add at least another 2 in the course of the year. This is a good start for to a sustainable water solution. Thank you for making it possible within the shortest time possible.’

Would you like to help boost an inspiring business owner like Catherine? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other Zidisha entrepreneurs impacting their communities.

A Natural Salesman

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is Gabriel Kariuki, I am a marketer by profession, I hold a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. I describe myself as honest, aggressive & an ambitious person, generally I am an achiever. I come from Kirinyaga county in central Kenya. My constituency Mwea is known for rice production, 85% of the supply of rice in east Africa comes from this region.’

During his 5 years with Zidisha, Gabriel has maintained two side businesses. The first, being farming, and the second, in the solar lighting business. For his solar business, he typically buys solar lamps from distributors and then re-sells them to customers throughout his village. On a weekly basis, he typically sells 4-7 pieces.

Graduating with his Master’s in Business Administration

Explaining how he got into the industry, he shares, ‘Currently I’m in the solar lighting business as an LME (last mile entrepreneur). I have noted that many Kenyans in the village interiors live below the poverty line and can hardly afford to pay for electricity connections in their home. I note that most of the village dwellers lack information and end up spending a lot on paraffin for lighting which despite having a high cost on them it also has health implications. My main motivation to solar business was triggered by my relentless efforts in advocating for use of green products and the need to embrace the green concept in the community. My main selling points are based on the benefits thus cost effective, quality, safe, healthy and environmentally friendly products with long term benefits.’

Gabriel has been proud to add a new product to his inventory, as he explains, ‘Recently I introduced energy saving cook stoves to my product line. I have noted that 90% of Rural homes rely on open fire for their cooking, where research has proved that every home spends between $1.5-2 dollars on firewood daily on their cooking, I noted an increase in expenditure/costs on firewood which seems very unfavorable to the rural homes most of whom who live below the poverty line and can hardly bare any further increase on firewood costs. As a way of giving back to the society & caring for the environment I decided to introduce the Philips energy saving jiko which can reduce the daily spending on firewood for rural homes to costs of between $0.2 to 0.5 dollars daily thus about 80% reduction in costs on firewood. Generally Philips jiko uses Biomass i.e dried cow dung, rice husks, wood pellets (compressed sawdust) to burn hence does not rely wholly on firewood.’

Since joining the Zidisha community in March 2015, Gabriel has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans. With his first loan of $50, he was able to increase his tomato crop for his farming side hustle.

Shortly thereafter, as his farming business was going well, he shifted his efforts to his solar business. He explains, ‘My business activity revolves around buying solar lamps from major distributors in town and selling these solar lamps to the customers in the village interiors. My main target groups include investment groups in the village, women merry go round groups etc.’

At this time, he was relying on his bicycle for transportation, and knew that by raising funds for a motorbike, he could greatly expand his reach, and would hopefully gain more customers in the process.

As 2016 rolled around, Gabriel found himself with a problem that needed solving. Not having an office space of his own, he would often meet potential clients in restaurants, or other public places. He found that many customers did not take well to this, and that they would have preferred to meet in an office environment.

Therefore, with a $370 loan from Zidisha lenders, Gabriel set out to acquire an office space. Sadly, as Gabriel saw the exorbitant costs of buildings, he knew there had to be a better way, especially since he spends so much time out of the office. As a solution, he realized that he could rent a space, and partition the building to have space for an additional business. He would use one side and would rent the other side to barbers that didn’t have spaces of their own. This is a great example of turning a situation that at first seemed to be a big setback, and making it into an opportunity.

A year later, Gabriel successfully raised an additional Zidisha funded loan for $544 allowing him to purchase a laptop computer for his business as he says, ‘I plan to buy a computer laptop for my business, I realize nowadays the market has become very competitive with the marketing aspect assuming a paradigm shift where now most of businesses are adopting digital marketing through the websites & social media, emails etc. Digital marketing has proved very important in business as it helps to nurture a relationship between a business & its customers.Through digital marketing, businesses have been able to respond promptly to customers queries hence gaining customers confidence/loyalty hence a competitive advantage.’

Would you like to support a forward thinking entrepreneur like Gabriel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about inspirational business owners all over the world.

A Passion for Business

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Erick Momanyi has big dreams! Living in Kisii, Kenya, he hopes to attend university, but after finishing high school, he lacked the funds to attend.

Not letting this deter him, he came up with a feasible plan that would allow him to support himself, and save money for school. Today, Erick runs a small business selling second-hand clothing. As he continues to work and save his proceeds, he is saving to attend a local college in Kisii. He says, ‘I have a passion for business and I would love to study Business Management in college.’

Although he has had to defer his college plans, for the time being, he is gaining valuable entrepreneurial experience that will be a great complement to his education, when he’s able to return.

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As he describes his business he explains, ‘I started my business in 2018. The intention of starting this business has been to help me save enough to join college by the start of next year. I sell second-hand clothes in my local market. I mostly deal with men’s clothes, both casual wear, and business wear. I have been able to build a good clientele, which has raised the demand for my clothes. I still would keep selling second-hand clothes even while studying, too, because I would be taking evening classes.’

As a new member of the Zidisha community, Erick has raised 5 Zidisha funded loans in a short period of time, since February 2020. His loans have ranged in amount from $40-$877, and have been a great source of help to keep going even throughout the pandemic.

Erick has primarily used his Zidisha loans to restock his inventory of clothing of shirts and trousers. He continually receives feedback from his customers, catering to their wants and needs.

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Like most business owners, Erick has been forced to pivot and adapt his business during the pandemic. In May 2020, he shared, ‘The pandemic has hurt many businesses but I had to find a new way to cope because I need to make a living, I have taken advantage of online platforms like Jiji, Pigiame and even Facebook, I take photos of my clothes and if someone is interested they contact me and we arrange on how to get, it’s not costly since the buyer pays for delivery charges, this has helped me keep afloat and am sure it will sustain me through this difficult period.’

As the pandemic continued, Erick found that two particular items were in high demand: face masks and sweatpants. Through his Zidisha funded loans, Erick has been able to easily meet these changing needs with his customers. By mid-summer, he also expanded into women’s clothing as well.

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Recently on July 27, Erick excitedly shared, ‘Once again I would like to express my gratitude to all my lenders, the support you have given me is Godsent, my business is reaching great heights and that’s thanks to you, I would also like to thank Zidisha.org for bringing this to us business people. Thank you and God bless you.’

Would you like to empower an inspiring entrepreneur like Erick? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha business owners all around the world.