Farming His Way Forward

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is Seidu Salifu and I am 23 years of age born to Mr. Seidu Salifu senior and Mrs. Nafisatu Seidu.’ As a young adult, Seidu lost his father when he was in high school and from an early age, he gained a strong work ethic as he would travel to his aunt’s home in Kumasi and would find petty jobs to earn some money for his books and other school needs.

After completing his studies, he decided to move to the village, sharing, ‘ I decided to move to the village to put into practice what I love most in my career and that is farming. I like reading, doing research and also love helping the vulnerable people. I will love to adopt and take care of the needy ones when I stand on my toes.’

In his farming business he grows crops such as, ‘peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and eggplant among others. He explains the importance of his business as he shares, ‘I realize that vegetables are the most essential farm products that are mostly in demand of markets especially during this covid 19, and that’s my area of my concentration now because vegetables are in demand. Growing vegetables are so important and it is really helping me.’

Since joining Zidisha, Seidu has successfully raised five Zidisha funded loans, starting in April 2020. As he requested his first loan he wrote, ‘As a young man who enjoys farming as his main work of occupation, if the loan is fully funded or granted, it will be purposely used to buy pesticides for my vegetable crops and other materials like fertilizers to improve the yield of my crops. Vegetables are part of farm products that are very much in need and essential especially in this time of this pandemic. Farmers are exempted from lockdown and my area of which I farm is also not included in the lockdown. I will use the sales of my vegetables to make repayment and moreover farmers are allowed to sell farm produce only that we must observe social distancing and other precautionary measures. Vegetables are now needed and that’s where I will sell to make payment.’

With the following two loans for $179 and $305, Seidu was able to continue purchasing additional fertilizers and pesticides in his business to expand and grow. Most recently, in October 2020, Seidu raised $620 and shared, ‘I first of all thank you lenders for your generous support given me in my farming produce and business. This loan that I am requesting will be used to buy farming inputs and other materials like cutlasses, hoe and others for my vegetable farming. Buying of farming inputs and other materials helps to produce speedy farming projects. This loan will be used to buy more farming inputs and other materials.’

After receiving this loan, Seidu took to his Zidisha discussion page on November 15 and wrote, ‘Farming business is growing. Thank you so much.’

Would you like to help support a Zidisha entrepreneur that is persevering through COVID-19? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about our business owners all around the world.

A Dream Come True

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is Mercy Zoe Wanjiru, I’m a Kenyan businesswoman. I run a company called Bush and events Africa. We organize safaris and adventure travel within Kenya and Tanzania. I started my business 5 years ago. I love my business because it’s passion driven and I enjoy my work very much.’

Before starting her business, Mercy gained experience by working at another tour company for three years. Knowing that she wanted to start a business of her own, she was able to save up as she worked to have the initial capital for her business. Mercy shares, ‘I always knew that someday I’ll own my own business. To me it’s a dream come true.’

Mercy joined the Zidisha community in 2014 and since joining she has raised six Zidisha funded loans. As Mercy raised her first loan for $150 she shared, ‘This is my first loan application on Zidisha and I plan to purchase camping tents, sleeping bags and camping chairs for my business. I run a safaris and events company which is still young but growing step by step, and at the moment I rent camping gear for my outdoor events from other people, yet if I had some of my own, I would use them hence not incur further expenses. Once I get my own gear, I plan on lending them out to people and making more income which I will use to purchase more assets for the company. The camping gear is a good investment for my business because the gear lasts for many years and continues to benefit you long after you’ve made the money used to buy it in the first place.’

After receiving her first Zidisha funded loan, Mercy posted an update on how this loan impacted her business as she wrote, ‘I have used my previous loan from Zidisha to buy camping tents, mattresses, solar lamps, camping seats etc. and this has really helped my business to grow. I’m very grateful to Zidisha lenders! I use the items I bought to run my trips hence I save on renting from other sources like I used to, and sometimes when I’m not using the gear, I rent them out as well. The vehicle is being used to transport my camping equipment which I used to transport in a hired vehicle so now I’ll be cutting the hiring costs. The vehicle can also be used to transport people which is a plus in my line of business.’

By August 2014, Mercy had been so successful with her first Zidisha funded loan, and was ready for another. With $440 from Zidisha lenders, she set out to purchase even more tents as she explains, ‘It’s now much better with the few tents I bought and the returns are good. I’ve therefore decided to get another loan and add more tents because the demand is high since I have greatly advertised my tents and now also have people who need to hire from me for weekend trips (it’s common for people to go somewhere camping over the weekend here in Kenya as a group of friends or family). I therefore request that you assist me in growing my business further by funding my tents and camping gear project, which is a long term income earner because the gear will last long and the demand is certainly there.’

Since her first two loans, Mercy has gone on to raise several others, purchasing items such as, ‘mattresses, lamps, camping seats, a computer, desk, chair, and even hiring a new staff member.

Most recently, Mercy successfully raised a loan for $1,247 in October 2020. With this loan she upgraded her business vehicle, purchased new tires, repainted her vehicle, and upgraded the seats. With this vehicle she is able to transport her equipment and also transport her customers.

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

Business Is Booming

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Born in a mining town in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, Ketty Shamakamba is a business owner on a mission to change her community for the better. Today she resides in a Zambian resort town called, Siavonga with her husband and their four children.

Sharing her dreams for the future, Ketty says, ‘I hope to succeed in my chosen venture and to create sustainable employment to the youths of our country and I am grateful to the Zidisha community for giving me this opportunity to expand and grow my business.’

Ketty is the proud Founder and CEO of a Cash Mobile Banking Solutions business. The business offers a variety of products and services including: mobile money services, portable energy kiosks, solar products, and portable battery kits. She’s proud that with her business she’s able to serve customers living in off grid parts of Zambia.

She continues, ‘Energy Kiosks, also known as “community charging stations” are a mode of off grid services provision that use solar energy. Unlike microgrids which use wired connections to serve their customers, Energy Kiosks act as a “walk up” retail model. For a fee, customers can recharge their mobile phones and other portable electronic devices. People can use mobile money services and also buy or rent solar products.’

So far, the company has been able to put several kiosks in off grid areas located near large multinational companies that operate in more rural areas of the country. Ketty shares that she has a wide range of customers from employees from large companies, to business owners and fishermen.

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As she plans for the future Ketty explains, ‘Cash Mobile Banking Solutions plans to expand the Energy Kiosks to all districts of the country. After all the vast majority of Zambian people live in off grid areas.’

As a new member of the Zidisha community, Ketty has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans since joining in April 2020. Describing her need for her firstĀ $24 loan, she said, ‘I will use the loan to buy mobile units from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) for my Solar Energy Kiosks which are located in off grid areas of the district. The mobile units would be available for customers to purchase. My business is an essential part of the offgrid communities where the kiosks are located. People need to conduct monetary transactions, buy mobile credits, solar products etc, on a daily basis, regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak. Otherwise their lives would come to a complete halt. We do our part to fight the pandemic by encouraging social distancing and placing washing basins and hand sanitizers on convenient locations close to the kiosks for customers to access them.’

Throughout the pandemic, Ketty has continued to serve her community and country by purchasing additional kiosks and encouraging her employees to practice social distancing and safe practices. The kiosks are all managed by attendants who have received training in social distancing and wear both gloves and masks while they work, as well as providing hand sanitizer for customers.

Most recently, she’s even raised her largest loan yet, $1,786 to continue purchasing additional kiosks. Along the way, Ketty has learned the importance of location, and is constantly improving her business. In one instance, she was able to move a poor performing kiosk to a new location and quickly saw a 5% increase in sales. Even amidst the pandemic, she shares that business is booming!

Would you like to make a difference in the life and community of a business owner like Ketty? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs around the world.

My Family Means Everything To Me

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘For me my family means everything to me. I did not achieve a lot but I would like to make that possible for my kids. Am working hard to ensure they get the best education so that they can have a better future,’ shares Zidisha entrepreneur, Frank Mwenda.

Born and raised in Meru, Kenya, Frank now resides in Nairobi with his wife and 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy.

He explains his jump into entrepreneurship as he says, ‘I started my business in 2018 after the company I was working for closed down and getting a new job got tricky, I had to find a way to feed my kids and that’s when I got the idea of sourcing fresh groceries to bring to the city and sell to the dwellers at an affordable price since life is already hard enough.’

Today, Frank sells a variety of groceries including: tomatoes, onions, potatoes, green pepper and many others. With his business, Frank is able to take the daily chore of buying groceries, and does his best to make this as easy as possible for his customers.

To provide the best possible value for his customers, Frank prefers to focus his business model on volume rather than high profit margins. He also purchases his produce directly from the farmers rather than using middlemen, which means better profits for both him and the farmers, and more savings for his customers.

As a new member of the Zidisha community in 2020, Frank has already raised two Zidisha funded loans, one in May for $74 and another in June for $373.

As he approached Zidisha lenders for his initial loan, he shared, ‘Hello, I would like to apply for, kes 7150 which I will invest in tomatoes, I usually get the tomatoes from the farmers which is cheaper. I sell them door to door to my customers, this allows me to sell more and meet more customers. With the ongoing pandemic things are tough but selling food stuff is allowed and I can access the farmers to get the tomatoes and other produce, as am doing this am taking all the precautions to ensure am sure, hence my business is still running, and am sure I will be able to repay the loan from the income.’

A few months later, Frank successfully raised his next loan which enabled him to increase his stock of tomatoes, green maize, onions, and potatoes which are the most sought-after items from his customers.

As the pandemic continued, Frank has been able to find creative ways to continue doing business, even while following the government guidelines, as he shares, ‘With the ongoing pandemic I had to find ways to coop, that’s why I started home deliveries this ensures the safety of my customers since we agree on the delivery mode, to gain more customers I have advertised my products on online platforms which has given me an edge. I believe with the measures I have taken they will enable me to repay my loan on time.’

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Frank get his or her business off the ground? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha business owners with projects and businesses around the world.