A Sewing Sensation

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Samuel Appiah was raised in Akim Oda in the eastern region of Ghana and now lives in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. As a student, Samuel attended school through his senior year of secondary school and was always very interested in art.

He shares, ‘I had many opportunities in various kinds of work institutions but never felt so good with it until I was one day told and inspired by my church choir leader on my way back home from rehearsal.’

Samuel recalls his choir leader encouraging him to, ‘create what you love doing most for yourself and the people around you in order to feel fruitful…’ Using this motivation and encouragement, Samuel took his meager savings to pursue his love of sewing and fashion.

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In his business, Samuel has now had one employee and three apprentices. Unfortunately, in the fashion business, the required upfront costs of buying fabrics, materials, and labor, can make it difficult for business owners to either get up and running or pursue new business. Because of this, partnering with Zidisha has been a game changer for Samuel as he is able to raise the necessary funds to go out and find new business.

Upon receiving his first few Zidisha funded loans, Samuel gratefully shared with his lenders, ‘Once again, my lenders are putting smiles on my face, it’s amazing to see them here on my list. Thanks to you all. May you all live long to be more blessings to many less privileged people around the Globe.’

The name of Samuel’s business is Divine Fashion and he says, ‘We are into fashions; sewing all kinds of unisex clothing especially African wears to the market and any one interested both in and outside the country.’ Since joining Zidisha in mid 2019, he’s been able to to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans, starting with a modest $14 loan in June.

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Upon gaining a contract, Samuel found that his biggest needs were purchasing materials for dress making and bringing in more workers. Starting out, he also set an intention and dream of gaining work and customers outside of Ghana.

With each new Zidisha funded loan, Samuel has been able to edge himself closer and closer to his dream, buying additional fabrics, paying his workers, and gaining new customers.

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For Samuel, it is a joy to see his friends and family members wear his beautiful pieces of clothing. He also shares to, ‘Never get discouraged by your twist and turns in life. These ups and downs are tough but remember it is there to test us, to prepare us to that which we want and are eager to attain in life. Success to you members here, and long live Zidisha!!’

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur and creator like Samuel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring business owners in the Zidisha community.

 

An Entrepreneurial Hustler

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Albert Mutoya is a Zambia citizen and an entrepreneurial hustler. Growing up with a single parent and in a family of 4, he quickly learned to overcome challenges. He shares, ‘finances were a challenge. I wanted to pursue a degree in IT but rather diverted to study a certificate in Insurance in 2013 because that would save me more money and time.’

Wanting to continue his studies, he was able to later study in the area of loss adjustment claims, continuing to slowly build up his resume.

Currently, he holds the title of Corporate Business Assistant as he is working in a private insurance company and saving as much as he can to put towards his dreams and future.

In the field of entrepreneurship, there is often a lot of trial and error. While an entrepreneur might start with one idea, he or she could pivot and try multiple routes before finding the right fit. And this is exactly where Albert is right now. Selling multiple products and services is allowing Albert to get experience in different areas. In addition, this is also enabling him to diversify, rather than depending on all of his income from one income stream.

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Starting out on his Zidisha journey, Albert shared with lenders that he had 7 big business ideas for the future including:

  1. Opening a business center with mobile money services (Zoona, Kazang, Zanaco Express, and FNB express).
  2. Opening a business center for phone accessories.
  3. Opening a restaurant in one of the busy parts of Lusaka.
  4. Opening a barber shop.
  5. Venturing into the transportation business to improve the transport sector in Zambia.
  6. Venturing into farming to help promote food security in Zambia.
  7. My last and important future plan is something that will help me return to the community. An orphanage home for children, youth empowerment, and responding to disaster relief charities.

Since joining Zidisha in mid 2019, Albert has moved full force ahead, raising an impressive 9 Zidisha funded loans in 6 short months. So far, he has experimented with selling rice, phone accessories, talk time, electricity units, and more.

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Albert’s first Zidisha funded loan was for $9 in July 2019, helping him to boost his rice business as he says, ‘The loan once acquired will assist me to boost my rice business because it will be easier for me to transport the packaged rice from the supply point to the desired customers….This in turn will help me gain customer loyalty and satisfaction and have a higher profit margin since goods will be delivered faster than I usually do on my feet.’

Finding success with his first loan, he successfully raised two more in July for $15 and $24, enabling him to order additional fitness watches and phone accessories to sell. For Albert, Zidisha has been an important asset in allowing him to have the funds to meet the demands of his customers and also provide his products on time to his customers.

The following month, in August, he raised 3 Zidisha funded loans for $35, $51, and $86. With these loans he was able to keep some money on hand to buy additional inventory as needed. Plus, he was also ready to purchase a laptop, for the purpose of reselling it.

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By September, Albert was ready to continue purchasing additional laptops to resell, using a $172 loan from Zidisha lenders to help make it happen.

As the end of the year approached, Albert came up with another idea to earn a little extra income. He could use his vehicle as a taxi service business, and hire an employee to drive, allowing him to focus on his other projects but still bringing in some income. To make sure that his car was in top shape, he used $249 from Zidisha to have his vehicle serviced. This also gave him the opportunity to provide employment for a deserving member of his community.

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Most recently, in December, Albert ended 2019 with his largest loan yet, $399 to boost his supply of rice for his eager customers. He shared, ‘As we are nearing to the end of the year, there are a lot of celebration activities that take place. Once my loan has been funded and received, I will use this opportunity to order rice to supply my clients on time. This will help me boost my capital and increase my income.’

Over the past 6 months, Albert has been able to try out multiple business ideas, through the help of amazing Zidisha lenders. As he nears the end of 2019 and heads into 2020, Albert can continue to pivot and refine, finding what works best for him and his customers.

Would you like to help other Zidisha entrepreneurs to boost their income and resources? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects Page to read about our inspiring business owners all over the world.

 

 

 

A Young Man with an Entrepreneurial Mind

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mohammed Karfo is from Ghana and describes himself as a ‘young man with an entrepreneurial mind.’ Upon finishing his high school studies, he tried getting into a university but wasn’t able to because of his financial restraints.

Seeing one door close, he pushed forward to find a new direction. He then obtained employment as a Construction Laborer and later moved on to become a Factory Hand in a Ghana steel company called Sentuo. While working at Sentuo, he came up with the idea to move into entrepreneurship and start a scraps business. He shares that this business is ‘what I wanted to do for long time but was not having the resources.’

With his dream in mind, he slowly started saving to make his dream a reality. Eventually, with the minimum capital requirements, he was able to start. In his business, he buys a variety of scraps including: metal scraps, electronic scraps, copper, aluminum and others. The business is based in the city of Tema which is located in the Greater Accra region.

Getting started, Mohammad knew that he would need both a cart and some field workers to assist him and to help his business continue to grow. To solve this problem he shares, ‘I bought one cart and started going from house to house and mechanic shop to shop until I get a little money over what I started with and get two boys who am currently working with.’

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As a member of the Zidisha community, he has raised 4 loans since joining Zidisha in November 2018. With each of his four loans under $30, he is a great example that a little money can go a long way.

On October 15, he took to his discussion board and proudly shared his progress with his lenders as he said, ‘I say thank you to Zidisha for the loan that they grant me, I appreciate it much. I have a vision of becoming a bigger entrepreneur in Ghana and Africa and I believe my lenders on Zidisha will help me become what I want to become, thank you.’

With each of his four loans, he was able to expand his inventory of scraps, slowly building his business. With his most recent loan of $29 in December, he shared, ‘I will use this loan to buy more scraps in this Christmas season, a lot of people will be disposing their scraps at this last month of the year.Therefore this loan will help me a lot in my business.’ While he’s discovered that the scraps business is certainly not easy work, Mohammad has noted that hard work and dedication are two of the most important ingredients for success in his business.

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Mohammad? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read stories of other business owners all around the world.

 

 

 

Starting From Scratch

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Hildah Kapolyo is a business owner living in Livingstone, Zambia. She has experience with multiple businesses and has worked selling phones, smoked fish, eggs and chicken. Initially, she was able to cover her own start up costs by using the money that she was given by the government after her many years of working for them.

Hildah found herself making small and steady progress as she gained additional customers. However, her lack of funds to expand always seemed to hold her back from growing as much as she would have liked to.

Thankfully, due to the help of Zidisha, she has been able to raise 5 Zidisha funded loans in the short span of 3 months, just starting with Zidisha in October, 2019.

As Hildah began her journey with Zidisha she shared, ‘Thanks very much I used the money to order my feed and it has really helped me because I remained with some days to start selling my chickens and I was short of money to buy the feed, just after buying I even started selling some chickens plus my smoked fish. I’m sure this program will help me with my business and looking forward to help others to do the same.’

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Hildah with her Family

Getting started, for Hildah, her main goal was to be able to expand her production capacity. She hoped to eventually supply eggs to shops, hospitals, restaurants, and even colleges. In addition, she also had the idea to sell throughout the local community in order to better serve people who might not have time travel to the local marketplace.

Starting with Zidisha in October, she successfully raised two loans, for $13 and $15. With these loans she hoped to put the money towards plastic packaging for her smoked fish. She also saw a need for a higher quality machine that she could use when making chicken sausages. Trying a smaller machine in the past, she was now ready to upgrade to a small commercial version that would better suit her current needs.

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As November rolled around, Hildah had an impressive month, raising a total of three loans, for $30, $57, and $104. Her first project was a smoke house and chicken house as she experienced a surge of customers and felt unable to meet the current demand for her products.

With her second November loan, she continued to increase her stock of fish. She also hoped to begin exporting her smoked fish. Then, with her third November loan she set out to buy additional chicks and fish products. She explains, ‘I’m sure it will also add man power because I will need more helpers in preparing the fish and also when the chickens are ready for sale will need people to help in dressing them.’

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Phones and Items Hildah has for sale

In addition to selling chicken, fish, and eggs, she also wants her Zidisha family to know that she is also continuing to sell phones and other goods. She is able to purchase items from the UK that are hard to find in Zambia and then re-sells them locally in her community.

Would you like to help support the dreams of a budding entrepreneur like Hildah? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other inspiring business owners throughout the Zidisha community.

Importing The World

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Abigail Gyamfi describes herself as a “young, dedicated, and determined lady.” Growing up in the central region of Ghana, she was able to successfully finish high school. However, as a new graduate, Abigail found it extremely difficult to find a job, sending in job applications, attending interviews, but not seeing the results in the form of a job.

Finding herself at a crossroads, she says, ‘I challenged myself to create a job for myself. I looked around my society and saw people rely on value and depend on imported items very much because there are not enough industries here to meet their demand. I therefore took it upon myself to learn how to do mini importation due to my knowledge in IT. It wasn’t long for me to get all the skills and tips I needed by researching and reading a lot about it. It is a great opportunity to create employment for my self and later for others.’

As a new business owner, Abigail realized that finances and getting funding to purchase her inventory would be her greatest struggle. Being part of the Zidisha community has allowed her to continue to grow her business and expand her offerings.

Abigail explains, ‘I live in a lovely environment with a lot of students so business here would be very good. I like learning new things and also to improve the lives of the people around me. Thanks to Zidisha for giving such an opportunity to be able to create a job for myself. I believe in Zidisha lenders that they won’t let me down and I promise to work hard to pay my loan.’

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Abigail with a happy customer.

In her business, Abigail has been able to build relationships with her customers, learning their particular wants and needs. Now she can order specific products based on the feedback that she regularly gets from customers. Most of her inventory is composed of tech, jewelry, watches, etc. that are not currently available in Ghana. Through importing, she is able to serve her customers with new and unique items that they might not otherwise have access to.

Since joining Zidisha in January 2016, Abigail has been able to raise 5 Zidisha funded loans to help support her growing business.

As an importer, she started with a $50 loan to purchase an Android tablet that she was able to re-sell for a $20 profit. A few months later, she decided to try her hand at importing and selling women’s bracelets and watching. A $98 loan from Zidisha lenders helped make this happen, allowing her to purchase these items for $2.75 each, and later selling them for $6 each.

By June 2016, she successfully raised $439 from lenders and found herself able to meet a few requests from her clients including: tablets, mens watches, and ladies watches.

The following year, in September 2017, Abigail found herself with $390 to delve into selling a new product, mens shirts. Buying her merchandise directly from the factory would allow her to purchase each shirt for $5 and then resell for $10. Along with purchasing shirts, she was able to use the remainder of the loan to take care of import and clearance fees.

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Most recently, in November 2018, Abigail decided to take advantage of the booming holiday season to add footwear to her current inventory. She was able to pay between $15 to $20 per pair of shoes, with a resale price of $25-30 per pair.

Would you like to make a difference in the life of a budding entrepreneur like Abigail? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring business owners in the Zidisha community.

 

The Kenyan Developer

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Robert Nyanja lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and works in the real estate industry. When he started with Zidisha in 2017, he already had developed a few shops, but he was wanting to gorw and expand his business. His goal is to continue building and creating more  structures in his area.

As Robert joined Zidisha, he shared his work and his goal as he says, ‘I work at a real estate company which has two small shopping malls and over forty tenants. I’ll be using this money acquired for the loan to create shopping kiosks using shipping containers (8-by-40 foot steel containers). The kiosks will be built in the rural area of Limuru, to help the low working class have a place to sell their goods and services thus increasing their household income. My hope is to help my community and grow my business too.’

In his time with Zidisha, Robert has been able to raise 8 Zidisha funded loans, enabling him to continue reaching new heights in his business. With his first two Zidisha funded loans in June 2017, for $99, Robert sought to acquire a new property to rent out. He explains, ‘I need the loan to acquire some more properties to grow my business. I manage properties at the moment and make my money by collecting rent from tenants always before the 5th of every month. If I receive the the loan I can guarantee payments on the scheduled time as requested by the lender.’

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The foundation of Robert’s new property.

 

Finding success with his first two Zidisha funded loans, he raised $200 from lenders in August 2017, and another $415 in October 2017. By combining these two loans, Robert found himself able to make some necessary renovations on the 15 houses/apartments owned by his real estate company. He explains some of the changes he hoped to make as he says, ‘Most of the houses are in good condition but some need renovations. I’ll be using this money acquired for the the loan to do those renovations on all the houses. I need to replace some roofing also put in some new water pumps and water trunks. I’ll also fix the tiling in the bathrooms and put new coats of paint inside and outside the houses. Once the houses are renovated I can increase the houses rent by 10% to generate more income.’

As Robert started to see the positive impact of his first few loans, he shared this encouraging update with his Zidisha lenders, ‘I would first like take this opportunity to thank you all for providing me with the capital to do the repairs to the house and provide better living for the tenants. I’ll be using the capital to fix some much needed roof repairs. Again thank you all.’

As 2018 rolled around, Robert found himself with new goals and projects for the new year. He started with a $672 Zidisha funded loan which allowed him to replace some of the roofing with new materials including, ‘nails, timber, steel sheets, sealant, and tarp.’ He also saw a need for adding in new water pumps and new ceilings. For this project, he hoped that these changes would provide better and safer living conditions for each of his current tenants. In addition, he also predicted that this additional improvements would allow him to raise the rent on his currently vacant properties.

So far, in 2019, Robert has raised 3 Zidisha funded loans, including two $9 loans, and one for $744. With these three loans, Robert has had goals of buying shipping containers and additional materials, welding equipment, water pumps, and some additional electrical wiring.

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Recently, on November 11, 2019, Robert went to his discussion page to share an update with lenders on his progress. He shared, ‘Good day ladies and gentlemen, I just wanted to say thank you to you all. You have truly helped me achieve my goals and more, the community and tenants thank you too. With your money I was able to buy a shipping container, and materials to set it up. Including new water pumps and water trunks, install lighting and electrical wiring. The tenant opened up a barber/salon, cyber cafe, kiosk and wholesale clothing shop. They have requested that I add more container shops so they can all grow their businesses.’

Would you like to positively impact the life of an entrepreneur like Robert? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other business owners throughout the Zidisha community.

I Can Achieve My Dreams

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Rose Joseph Mlunga has had the opportunity to live in 3 different African countries. Born in Tanzania, she is the youngest child with 5 older siblings. As a child, she attended both primary and O-level secondary school in Tanzania before moving to Uganda to work on her A-level secondary studies.

During her studies, she performed well on her 6 national examinations and earned a spot to continue studying at Makerere University in Uganda. She completed her studies in 2010 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

While she was a university student, she started dating her now husband. Today they are married, living in Kenya, and have one daughter.

As a Zidisha entrepreneur, Rose runs a mobile banking business (M-pesa) and also sells phone accessories. In addition to mobile banking, she also runs a second business selling secondhand handbags and clothing. She shares the reasoning for doing both as, ‘At times you find business is wobbling up and down due to seasons.’

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She hopes to continually expand and grow her business in the future. Rose explains, ‘Mobile banking has saved people a lot because they can send and receive money at any time and anywhere, so this makes the business very stable and increases income in the business. In this mobile banking business I make US$ 200 a month, apart from mobile banking I do mobile phone charging to clients in which I charge UD$ 0.2 per phone, also I sell airtime in my shop.’

Rose has been part of the Zidisha community since 2016, and over the past three years has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans ranging in amount from $200 to $937.

With her first Zidisha funded loan of $200, Rose began to expand her selection of mobile phone accessories and phone charging, hoping to make a profit of $20 USD a day on phone accessories and $10 USD per day for charging. In Kenya, selling charging time is a great business service because most Kenyans don’t have their own source of electricity, making this a high demand service.

A few months after her first loan, Rose requested a second for $200 and this time she set out to grow her business by purchasing a computer for $100 USD, a digital camera for $80 USD, and a 16G memory card for $10.20. The remaining funds would be donated to her local church as she says, ‘to thank God for the opportunity he has given me and the lenders.’

She also found that it was the right time to hire one employee who could help her take photos and do passports.Building upon her previous loan, Rose successfully raised $296 in March 2017, enabling her to purchase a photo printer, a laminating machine, and an additional table for her shop. The rest was put towards paint for re-branding.

A few months later, she then raised $443 in September from lenders, and $495 in October, allowing her to expand her business by adding an Equity Bank Agent, Family Bank Pesa Pap Agent, KCB Bank Agent, and Co-Operative Bank Agent. This would allow Rose to provide all 5 money solutions.

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By December 2017, Rose found that she had another problem that needed her attention. Frustrated by the occurrence of power blackouts and lack of electricity, she decided that a power generator would be a great investment, allowing her to continue operating her business even while others are out of power. With $935 from Zidisha lenders, Rose was able to purchase the generator and also pay for the power cables and the wages for the technician to install it. As few people have generators, this would also provide Rose with a competitive advantage in the market.

As Rose’s business has continued to grow and expand, there’s no telling how far she can continue to go in the future. Most recently, in October 2019, she successfully raised $1,030, her largest loan yet! With this loan she is purchasing computers and a printing machine, as well as having internet installation work done.

While 2018 and 2019, haven’t been the easiest business years for Rose, she has persevered and is finding ways to iterate and continually make improvements and provide value for her customers in her community.

Would you like to help boost an entrepreneur like Rose? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring Zidisha business owners.