A Jolly Fellow

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Godwin Mnjala was born in 1954 as the second born in his family. Growing up in Bura Taita Taveta County, he attended Kenyatta High School Mwatate for his O levels.

Afterwards, he completed a 6 month long Salesmanship course in Mombasa. He shares, ‘I got a casual job as a salesman in a garage in Mombasa. With a meager pay I had to walk 10 kilometres everyday to and from work, often on an empty stomach. Luckily, I found a better job in a hotel in Malindi, Kilifi County as food and beverage waiter, and rose to become the Food and Beverage controller.’

When he retired in 2012, he made the decision to pursue farming. Sadly, a year later he had what he refers to as a “wake up call” when his younger brother passed away. Not only losing a brother, Godwin was also left with the responsibility to care for his brother’s family. He continues, ‘That made it 11 people including my own family and my orphaned niece. As a retired employee, I could not make ends meet, so I decided to take a small loan and started my retail shop business in Maungu, Voi-Subcounty, Taita Taveta County in 2016.’

In describing his shop, Godwin explains, ‘I run a retail shop, where I sell groceries, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and shoes and cutlery, mobile phone airtime. These are day to day consumable items required in the homes daily. I chose this kind of business because it provides necessities for families who live around where my shop is located.’

While this is Godwin’s first year with Zidisha, he’s already off to a great start, raising two loans, the first for $50 and the second for $104. With these two loans, Godwin has been able to stock up on high-demand items for his shop such as, ‘cereals, vegetables, fruits, soaps, detergents, soft drinks, and other food items.

One of the best business decisions that Godwin has made is choosing an excellent location for his shop. He’s located on a main road in a residential area which allows him to receive lot’s of daily foot traffic.

Having his shop has been equally valuable for his customers, as they now have a local shop to buy their daily necessities, rather than having to waste time and money traveling longer distances for these purchases.

Godwin’s monthly operational expenses of rent and utilities add up to around Kes. 10,000 per month. In addition, his cost of purchasing goods and services amounts to Kes. 65,000 monthly and his monthly turnover is around Kes. 100,000 each month.

With his monthly profits Godwin is able to pay a variety of needs for his large family including: family expenses, school fees, medical expenses, and utilities. Then, with any remaining funds he is able to continually re-invest in his business to buy additional stock.

Starting his shop has truly been an inspiration for his family as Godwin says that now his children would like to be businessmen when they grow up. Godwin is a proclaimed, ‘jolly fellow’ and shares, ‘I love to entertain people especially kids who call me “Babuu” (grandfather in Kiswahili) and make them laugh with my unique slogan…jambooo!”

Would you like to make an impact in the life and family of an entrepreneur like Godwin? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other Zidisha business owners all around the world.

A Positive Impact

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I am Benjamin Olaitan Owolabi, married with four children. I have a B.A. degree in History and International Studies from Lagos State University in Nigeria. I am self-employed.’

Benjamin owns a company called ‘Tab International Links, Limited’ where they focus on wood processing, construction and small-scale gold mining. The wood processing side of the business operates out of Kwara State and the gold mining part is out of Niger state. In addition, the corporate office is located in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Benjamin joined the Zidisha community in September 2019, and has raised 14 Zidisha funded loans in the past year.

With two initial loans of $14 and $22 he used the funds to help with school fees for his children. With these loans he was able to show his lenders his strong ability to re-pay which has allowed him to continue to increase his loan amounts over the months. Today, as of October 2020, he is able to raise funds over $1,000.

Benjamin has used the majority of his loans for a few primary purposes as he explains, ‘it will be used for buying of fuel for sawing of processing wood and transport of wood to the load point. This will increase my production which will equally increase my net profit.’

In addition, Benjamin has also used his Zidisha funded loans to cover labor costs and government required fees. Even with the difficult economic climate as a result of COVID-19, Benjamin is thankful that his business has not been affected as he shared in September 2020, ‘the current economic climate did not affect our business. This rain period our woods are in high demand. Our buyers are on standby waiting for the wood at their factory in Ogun state, payments are made immediately.’

Describing his growth over the past year with Zidisha, Benjamin took to his discussion page and wrote, ‘My lender I appreciate your support to the growth of our business. Since I joined Zidisha my business has witnessed growth in the work force and our standard of living at the family level equally improved.’

Would you like to make a difference in the life and community of an entrepreneur like Benjamin? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about inspiring Zidisha business owners all around the world.

Integrity Is More Important Than Any Financial Gratification

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Kolawole Orowole is an entrepreneur in Nigeria, and he knows what it means to pivot, and to be innovative and forward thinking. In addition to being a business owner, he also serves as a Communicators Facilitator staff member.

In describing his business he shares, ‘I trade in various goods for babies and children, including Pampers (disposable diapers), footwear, school bags, foodstuff, lunch bags, etc. I also produce affordable sanitizer, and I purchase face-masks in large quantities to resell.’

Most importantly, Kolawole is a man of integrity as he shares, ‘I am convinced that integrity is more important than any financial gratification.’ Throughout his time with Zidisha, he has managed to raise 10 Zidisha funded loans, all raised since the beginning of 2002. With his first few loans, Kolawole was able to complete some roofing repairs to his office building and increase his stock on hand.

Because Kolawole primarily provides children’s products in his shop, he’s been essential to many parents and families, especially during the unpredictability of the pandemic this year.

As a small business owner, Kolawole prides himself on his customer service and the close relationships that he’s able to build with his clientele. This certainly has served him well, as he’s even provided home delivery for his loyal customers so that they don’t need to leave their homes during the pandemic.

By June 2020, Kolawole had raised an impressive $823 loan from Zidisha lenders as he shared an update, ‘My business has grown with the help of loans funded by lenders at Zidisha. With the loans, I have been able to invest in face-masks and sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been selling them in the major markets around me. I further have been given a contract to supply sanitizer to banks and other nearby organizations, because my prices are more affordable than competitors’ prices. Additionally, I have pursued school contracts for disinfecting/decontaminating their premises before school reopenings and, in fact, I have been given a school contract to do just that. I am hoping to get more similar contracts to expand my business and increase my profits.’

A few months later, in September, Kolawole was able to raise another large Zidisha funded loan, of $1,482 as he explained, ‘We have successfully secured a contract in seven states in Nigeria as schools gradually reopen. We have contracts to fumigate and maintain concurrent decontamination of government school premises due to our previous private schools contract we executed. These states are Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Lagos, Ondo that has trusted us to prove our ability to manage their school decontamination team. So we hope to boost our profitability by 85% by the end of our 1 year contract. We hope the money if given will be invested in purchasing chemical and training personnel to carry out the job.’

While Kolawole didn’t initially set out to offer fumigating, sanitizers, or masks, he’s been able to alter his business offerings to meet the current needs of his community.

In Kolawole’s own words, ‘Our business revolves around the economy crisis and we have built trust and expanded our services delivery. We continue to do a business survey to see the basic needs and how we can offer them in affordable means and boost our profitability in every way. We have built the business brand that is trust and our client had maintained a good relationship to trust them with their needs.’

Would you like to help entrepreneurs making big changes in their community? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha business owners around the globe.

We Can Do This Together

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ezekiel Amisoh is a 23-year-old student and entrepreneur living in Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. As a child, Ezekiel was able to grow up watching his parents in their entrepreneurial ventures as his father is a farmer and his mother is a petty trader. Today, he is a student at the University of Education, Kumasi campus, earning a degree in Accounting Education.

In addition to his studies, he also runs a business of his own as he explains, ‘I run a mobile money merchant business and have been in business for the past three years and my business keeps on growing daily.’

As a business owner, Ezekiel is passionate about using his business to help and empower the less fortunate members of his community. He shares, ‘My main motive behind my business is to help the poor and needy, I have been through it before where we could barely feed and I know how it feels. For the past years with the little I get I always try to use part of my profit after tax to help the needy. I know I don’t have the strength to do this alone but with the help of the good people of Zidisha I know we can do this together.’

While many business owners around the world have struggled tremendously because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ezekiel has been fortunate as his business has continued to grow during this time. Surprisingly, he’s even had days where he has been forced to close up shop in the afternoon because of a lack of funds to serve his customers.

As a member of the Zidisha community, Ezekiel is optimistic about what he can do with the help of his lenders as he says, ‘I believe with expansion of my business I can meet the demand of my customers and also help me fulfill my dream by helping the poor and the needy. I believe with the help of lenders on this platform we can all help alleviate poverty with the little I get from my business through the help of noble lenders here.’

In describing his business, Ezekiel shares, ‘I have a mobile money shop that I employ members to work for me. I believe with enough capital invested in my business I will earn an average profit of 3500 cedis per week. Even with my small capital I manage to make an average profit of 1800 cedis every week. With my capital not enough to meet the demand of all my customers so I have to always direct people to a different mobile money merchant when someone comes with a huge amount to transact.’

In total, Ezekiel has been able to successfully raise 8 loans on the Zidisha platform. As he sought his first Zidisha funded loan in May 2020, he shared with lenders, ‘I have a mobile money business that I need huge capital to expand it, and getting this amount will help me to start my expansion gradually and thus I will invest it into my mobile money business to facilitate smooth transaction and to meet my customers demand. This coronavirus will not affect my business in the sense that, I run a mobile money business which is electronic money and many people especially the traders now fear to travel to buy goods and pay with physical money and they all now resort to the electronic means of payment. In doing this they need a mobile money merchant to help them facilitate their transaction and that will call for me to come and transact with them. So I can confidently say my weekly earnings keeps on increasing more than 100% each week. With much confidence this period is the best for me and I can pay any amount of loan granted in due time.’

With each consecutive loan from Zidisha lenders, Ezekiel has been able to grow his business and meet the demands of his customers.

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Ezekiel take his business to new heights? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha entrepreneurs around the world.