One Candle Does Not Go Off By Lighting Another

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Anne Muriu has a lot to be proud of! With a thriving business, she’s accomplished a great deal in her life.

However, like everyone, things haven’t been perfect. She shares, ‘There was an instance when my school life was hard. I did not have lots of money. Sometimes, when my friends would go for lunch in a high-end hotel, I would look for a nearby kiosk. Despite that hardship, I was able to finish school without peer pressure. This helped me to see life in a different fashion and to always use the little that I had well.’

She currently operates a business where she trains people in her community to do online jobs. Most of her customers have young children and this allows them to continue working while also raising their kids. She initially started this business after noticing a clear gap in the market and after discovering that there would be few startup costs.

Fortunately for Anne, she has a supportive family that has provided her with the assistance that she needs to get her business up and running. In addition, her family also believes in the importance of acquiring her skills, which has been an encouragement to her in her entrepreneurial journey.

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Anne explains, ‘Another reason why I ventured into online training is that, after my sporting extra curriculum activities, I had to fill in the gap of my active sports life. Online work and training was that challenge I needed. I do volunteer, especially in children’s rights activities. I have also learned in my forums that one candle does not go off by lighting another.’

Right now in her business she is focused on training a few people how to write articles and transcribe. And in addition to training others, she is also witnessing growth in herself as she polishes her own skills.

In terms of costs associated with her business, she has the costs of the data management and software that she uses. She is also excited to use a portion of her profits to continue investing in new training courses and resources. She hopes to continue growing and to increase the number of people she is able to train.

Anne shares, ‘In this group, we will certainly be better in life as a skilled workforce. When a group of people come together, life becomes easier. People are able to earn as a group and accommodate each others weakness. There are those who are good with time management, others are a think tank, others in pushing others to work and others in meeting deadlines.’

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A few years ago, Anne was first introduced to Zidisha through her mentors, who had already been with Zidisha for many years. Since her introduction to Zidisha in 2015, she has successfully raised 4 loans, beginning with a $50 loan in February 2015. At the time, Anne was in need of a new computer hard drive, a phone charger, and repairs for her cannon camera.

Because Anne runs an online business, these tech gadgets are essential to her business. She shares, ‘I have realized the importance of functional gadgets, they can save time and money. For me, they will make a difference in my online service delivery and income.’

On Oct 18, 2015, Anne shared this inspirational update with Zidisha lenders, ‘Wow! It has been a while. I would like to thank you for assisting me. I was doing an analysis of the impact and its mind blowing. I am one step ahead on computers. I did not waste any time, thanks to you Harriet and Space-thyme and Team Zidisha. In July – September, I was able to take some adults through introduction to computers. There is a big gap in the market of adults who want to learn computers. Many adults are looking for places to belong. They fear going to college with young people. Others look for sponsor related programs. I have been studying a lot as well. I am doing courses at Udemy and PhilanthropyU.’

Two years later, in April 2017, Anne was ready for a second loan, of $67. This would allow her to expand her web presence, paying for hosting and security for her website and also to create a website.

She also came up with the idea to sell handmade products on her website, made by members of her local community. She would promote the products for a small fee, hoping to make between $50 and $150 per month.

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By November 2017, she was ready to increase the sales and marketing efforts for her website, with the help of a $101 Zidisha funded loan. Anne explains, ‘Online presence communication is important. The above activities should drive sales from my website for social good.’

Most recently, Anne was able to raise, $108 in April 2019. With these funds, she was able to help with her online training resources. Right now, she has 7 interested customers paying $25 each for her training.

Through her business, Anne has truly tapped into a new market, allowing young parents to make an income for themselves, while also raising their children at home.

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Anne reach a new market in their communities? Feel free to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners.

A Formula for Success

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Rita Nutsugah was fortunate to have received a great education as a child, and strong support from both parents. She always had a knack for saving and as she says, ‘ I loved doing small handiwork.’ From there she used her small savings to start the business that she runs today.

When she’s not busy running her business, one of her great joys is cooking. She enjoys finding new recipes and also likes to relax by watching movies, reading, and sewing.

In her business, Rita sells a variety of items including: clothing, liquid detergent, and general trading items. With her profit, she is able to pay her rent and also re-invest in her business.

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With the help of Zidisha lenders, Rita has been able to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans. Rita began her partnership with Zidisha in August 2015 and raised $100 to purchase some basic tools for detergent making.

Shortly thereafter, in November 2015, she successfully doubled her first loan and used $200 from Zidisha lenders to buy more materials including: base, buster, thickener, salt, fragrance, color. She also used the remaining funds for transportation and for printing labels.

By 2016, Rita was ready to increase her inventory of detergent, with a loan of $416 from lenders to get her started. She purchased bottles, base, thickener, booster, soda ash, sulphonic acid, and glycerine.

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For Rita, 2017 was a year with a lot of accomplishments and big strides in her business. She started the year by renting a larger space for producing her soap. With a loan of $570 from Zidisha lenders, she acquired a space, purchased paint, shalves, a ploytank, and also paid for painters to paint the shop.

In addition to seeing her business thrive, she was also nominated to attend the National Board for Small Scale Industries business plan training. Beyond that, she was also listed on the “Made in Ghana” website! She shared with lenders that, ‘I am very grateful for your financial support that have now put me in the lime light.’ 2017 was also the year where she developed a new formula for her detergent as well!

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Reflecting on the year, Rita shared, ‘My previous loan helped me a lot in the following way: it helped me top up to acquire a delivery van, it also helped me in expanding the quantity of products, it also helped me in my research to come up with a new formula for my detergent. Because of it I am now being invited to attend seminars for SMEs.’

Never one to rest on her laurels, Rita was ready to continue to change and grow her business in 2018. As she approached lenders for a loan of $648, she put a plan in place to renovate part of her workspace, to fix and purchase new plugs and extension boards, and to repair and service her delivery van. The items that she needed to purchase to make this happen included: ‘wood, mesh, nails, extension boards, fuel pump and van parts, a mixer, and labor.’

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On April 12, 2018, Rita proudly shared this update with lenders, ‘Thank you Zidisha once again for your assistance and support. I promised to keep working hard and also be prompt with my repayment. This loan will help me fix and buy the items listed in my proposal for the loan, eg to fix some of my plugs and buy the wood for the fixing of the top part of my working space. Thank you my lenders.’

Most recently, in March 2019, Rita was able to raise, $701 from lenders, and with the funds, purchased a 3 clip agitation machine.

I am What I am Because of You

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mildred Wafula lives in Namarambi, Kenya and holds a diploma in Secretarial Studies. She has also competed a Telephone Receptionist course and today she is running a small cybercafe called Namarambi Computer and Photocopying Services. Her services include: typesetting, scanning, printing, binding, Internet, and taking passports. In addition, she also sells stationary items such as, ‘pens, exercise books, geometrical sets, counter books, and envelopes.’

Mildred shares, ‘I chose this type of business because I have knowledge of offering services related to computers. I spend money on buying materials such as printing papers, binding papers and photo printing papers. I get this money through the sale of sugarcane and maize I plant on my farm. I usually use the profit to pay fees for my young brothers and sisters.’

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Since 2015, Mildred has successfully raised 6 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $166 to $1,571. With her first loan, she used her $166 from lenders to supply exams to schools. She planned to target at least 20 primary schools in the area and hoped to sell them for 25 KSH per set (25 cents USD).

After finding success with her first loan, she set out a few months later to raise a second one, this time, for $377. Mildred was able to use this second loan to purchase a new mini laptop for her business. By purchasing an additional laptop, she hoped that this would keep her customers from having to wait in long lines and be served quickly. She shares, ‘through this I believe profits are going to increase double. Looking forward for your funding.’

As Mildred’s business continued to grow, the next solution was to purchase a powerful generator. She knew that this would enable her to continue running her business even during routine power outages in her area. She also foresaw a competitive advantage as none of her competitors have generators in their businesses. Fortunately, with a $602 loan from Zidisha lenders, she was able to make this happen.

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The new generator

By October 2016, Mildred was ready to share another dream with her Zidisha family, to own a home of her home. By investing the money to build a home of her own, she would be free from monthly rent payments and once she finished paying for her home, she could then invest the additional savings back into her business. To make this dream a reality, Mildred secured $936 from Zidisha lenders and used the funds to purchase a plot of land, and building materials including: iron sheets, nails, steel doors, and wooden doors. The remaining funds would be put towards laborers.

A year later, Mildred was already seeing the fruit of this investment in her home as she shared with the Zidisha community, ‘With the loan you funded me I was able to buy some building materials to my plot. The purchase of such materials have enabled me to build a house on my plot which has saved me an extra cost of paying rent. This has enabled to increase my earnings hence I was in a position to buy printing machine worthy 180,000/=. My first born child has been in a position to complete her primary education. Thanks to Zidisha and may God bless you.’

In January 2018, Mildred raised her fifth Zidisha funded loan for $1,571 and purchased additional priting papers and other school supplies such as, ‘dictionaries, exercise bools, and school Bibles.’ Because her business is located near a school, the students are able to get the supplies and services that they need without traveling long distances.
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Most recently, in March 2019, Mildred had an urgent problem that needed solved, and of course, her Zidisha lenders were happy to offer a hand, with a loan of $1,172 to help her renovate her leaking roof of her business. With the funds, she purchased iron sheets, nails, ceiling board, and of course, needed to pay for labor costs.

In addition, the silver lining was that she also decided to partition the shop, meaning that in the future, she would be able to rent out the other side, bringing in a side income for herself.

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On March 31, 2019, Mildred proudly shared with lenders, ‘The last loan that you funded me enabled me to add stock in my business. Because my business near the school I was able to deliver some stationery to school hence enabled me to complete paying the loan on time.’

Would you like to help a business owner like Mildred build a sustainable business and a house of her own? Head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other entrepreneurs all over the world.

 

 

 

Millicent’s Snack Shop

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Millicent Adukwe was born in a village called Yawsaekrom in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. As a child, she grew up in a farming family and her parents were able to use their funds to sponsor both her education and that of her 4 siblings. Sadly, her father passed away when she was only five years old, and this made it difficult for her mother to support all 5 children on her own. Millicent humbly shares, ‘Things became difficult for my mum so my other four siblings dropped out from school. After my national service, I secured a job at Capital Rural Bank Ltd. in the year 2006. I then got married to Mr. Kwadwo Appiah who is a barber and a petty trader. God has blessed us with three children.’

Since January 2015, Millicent has been making an income selling soft drinks. She is able to sell a wide variety and sells anywhere from ten to twelve crates per day. Since starting her business, Millicent has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans and through these loans, she can continued to expand her business.

As Millicent began her partnership with Zidisha, she raised an initial loan of $381 in November 2016, allowing her to increase her inventory of crates of bottles. Millicent has always had big dreams and goals for herself and her family. As she requested this first loan, she also shared with her lenders that, ‘I want to see my children in the best Universities in the years ahead.’

The following year, in 2017, she raised 2 Zidisha funded loans, one for $574 in April, and the second for $931 in October. With the April loan she shared, ‘I have decided to purchase eight crates of soft drinks and ten packs of biscuits, five packs of bottled water, and twenty packs of sachet water. Candies will be added into it to increase sales and income. I expect that my income will increase by 45 percent by the next three months. This will help me pay my ward’s school fee and also buy some of her textbooks. In fact, this will be very helpful to me.’

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Sure enough, a few months following this loan, Millicent updated lenders by sharing that, ‘Thanks to Zidisha, my shop is fully stocked and I promise to make 100% repayment, sales are also good. I will never disappoint you.’

Continuing to build momentum, by October 2017, Millicent was ready for her largest loan yet, $931, which she put to good use by expanding her shop and purchasing additional inventory of soft drinks and snacks including: milo, milk, sugar, and candies. In terms of costs, about $300 was put towards the expansion of the shop, while $372 was used for purchasing soft drinks. The remainder was budgeted for the snacks and water. Millicent shared, ‘This will help increase my income level by at least 60%. I expect large sales since Christmas is drawing near.’

 

Most recently, in March 2019, Millicent was once again ready to grow and expand. With a loan of $910 from Zidisha lenders, she was able to buy 50 crates of minerals, milo sachets, and bottled water. In her words, ‘This will help me stock up my store well and get good sales.’

Millicent shares that since working with Zidisha her sales have increased and she has even been able to pay for her nieces registration and school fees in order to complete senior high school. She says, ‘This has been easy due to Zidisha loan funding me. I thank all my lenders for the wonderful support.’

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Millicent grow and expand her business? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspiring business owners all over the world!

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Impossible Possible

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘My name is Stephen Kimani, but my friends call me Steve. I was born in Kiambu County in the central highlands of Kenya twenty three years ago. I was born in a farming community where most people are involved in food farming as well as livestock keeping. My parents are such farmers and I spent my childhood years in our farm helping them in their farming activities.’

As a student, Steve completed his primary and secondary studies before pursuing a course in Electronics Maintenance, which trained him to become a qualified technician for mobile phone repair. However, he realized that this was not the right career fit for him as the work was very demanding with a low income.

Afterwards, Steve decided to make a transition, and he moved to Mombasa to live with a relative who owned a business selling motor vehicle parts. After gaining two years of experience working as a shop attendant, he decided that it was time for him to venture out, to start a business of his own.

He started his own business selling second hand school books, and it worked out so well that he’s still doing it today several years later. He explains, ‘I deal with the selling of second hand school books. I normally get the old books from parents whose children graduate to the next classes. This is a common practice in Kenya where old books are passed on to those who are in lower classes instead of buying new books which are more expensive.’

If he happens to run out of old books, he also sells new books, but he finds that this is a rare occurrence. With a profit margin of 40%, he has a steady business. The major challenge for Steve is that there is a seasonal nature to his business, usually peaking at the beginning of a new school term in January, May, and September.

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In his time with Zidisha, Steve has been able to successfully raise 5 Zidisha funded loans, dating back to April 2015, with a $100 start. He took his $100 loan and used it to purchase a new batch of second hand books to add to his current stock. He explains that dictionaries and atlases tend to be two of his biggest sellers. He says, ‘The expected return will help me grow my business at an even faster rate and bring my dream of moving into a better place even closer.’

Later that same year, he raised his second loan for $181 as a new term was starting. Since this is his best time of year for sales, he wanted to take advantage of this by increasing his stock. For this particular loan, he was able to purchase textbooks for both primary and secondary school levels.

For Steve, he knew that if he could increase his inventory, this would better position him to be a one stop shop for all textbook needs for students in his area.

By April 2016, Steve was ready for another loan, this time for $363, and he was excited to share with lenders, ‘My business is doing well. With ever growing demand for education, I have enjoyed a continuous flow of customers throughout the year. My bookstore is now bigger and my clients have increased tremendously. I intend to use the whole amount from this loan to get more copies of fast moving titles. This will increase my sales and profitability significantly.’

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As Steve saw the outcome of lenders investments, he proudly shared, ‘Thank you Zidisha lenders for making things that seemed impossible a few months ago possible. With your credit, I have been able to grow my business to a level that I would have otherwise taken much longer to achieve. My books selling business is doing well and I hope to keep growing with more of your support.’

As 2017 rolled around, Steve was ready for two additional loans to grow his business. In April, he raised $575 and purchased a variety of new books for students doing their final exams from both primary and secondary school. He hoped that this income would propel him to a level where he could move to a permanent building from his current makeshift structure.

Then, in October 2017, Steve was able to raise his largest Zidisha funded loan, of $1,093. With 1/4 of the loan, he intended to add more stock to his business. Then, with the remaining 3/4 he hoped to lease another store and also hire another person to help with that location.

He shares, ‘Having the two shops, it will help increase my earnings and someone else in earning his/her living. I’m hoping to make more than half of the loan as profit within a period of one year.’

As of 2019, Steve is currently thriving in his business and is also back in school as he says, ‘Hello my dear lenders, I wish to thank you for your generosity. My previous loan came at the right time when mostly needed. I purchased books with some of the amount and used the rest in renting another store. This has helped me to employ another person whom his life has changed since then. This has increased my profit margin which has greatly helped me pay my college fee and advance my education. Below is my photo in class studying.’

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Would you like to empower another student entrepreneur like Steve? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to learn more!

 

 

 

Entrepreneurship Has Always Been My Driver

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Anthony Mwirigi may come from humble beginnings, but today, he’s ready to take on the world! As a child, he excelled in his studies and successfully made his way to university, studying to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and earning a degree in Economics and Finance from Kenyatta University.

He shares, ‘Entrepreneurship as always been my driver to overcome hardships throughout my college life. I could buy clothes in large quantities and sell them to students, making a significant profit to facilitate my upkeep at the university. I started my dairy farming business during my last long vacation at the university. My motivation was the financial hardships. My finance source was working in a milk production company for those few months.’

When Anthony first discovered Zidisha in 2015, he had two dairy cows. He found that he had entered a good market as more and more families continued to migrate to his town, creating a shortage of milk.

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Because of Anthony’s business and financial education, he brings a strong foundation to his business. In addition, he also has the practical experience, having worked in the milk processing industry as an internal auditor, while he was in university. He explains, ‘During my industrial university attachment, I worked in a milk processing industry in the field of internal audit. I discovered that every morning the CEO urges the employees to help the industry acquire higher milk intake from farmers due to idle machinery that could not get enough milk to process 24 hours a day. I decided therefore I could start daily production and advance it in the future to large-scale farming in order to enjoy the advantages of economies of scale and also supply raw milk to the industry.’

In terms of his business costs, artificial insemination, concentrates, fodder, labour, and veterinary services of treatment account for the largest expenses. While milk sales are his primary revenue stream, he is also able to sell accumulated manure as well.

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With 8 Zidisha funded loans to his credit, Anthony is making big strides in his business. He joined the Zidisha community in 2015 and began with a $100 loan in December and an additional $222 loan in November the following year. These early loans allowed him to purchase feeds for his cows and to also purchase one new cow.

The following year, 2017, proved to be a big year for Anthony as he successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans which kept his business moving forward. He says, ‘I thank the lenders for the previous two successful loans granted to me. It is because of your support that my livestock business has grown.’ With his March loan, for $372, Anthony purchased a chaff cutter machine to make his work of feeding the cows a little bit easier, reducing his time spent in feeding the cows.

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A few months later, in July and August, Anthony was able to take his business from 3 cows to 6 cows! Shortly thereafter, he also used a $2,217 loan from Zidisha lenders to construct a silage tank for his cows, allowing him to store his feed during the rainy season, to use later on during the dry season.

Most recently, in 2018, Anthony raised $715 in August and $329 in December, to buy additional hay for his cows and to also invest in a water tank to store water on his farm. He explains that, ‘the tank will provide sufficient water for cleaning and also drinking by the cows. This will also eliminate the risk of Inadequate water supply.’

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Following the changes in his business, Anthony shared this inspirational message with his lenders, ‘thanks so much lenders, I managed to construct silage storage tanks. I can now preserve fodder for up to one year. This has enhanced my dairy cows production since the fodder is available even in dry seasons. My dairy production from the five dairy cows is 80 liters per day an average income of $1,000 dollars per month.’

Would you like to invest in the life of a savvy businessman like Anthony? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring entrepreneurs around the world.

 

I Will Achieve More

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

John Muriu Njuguna was raised in Nakuru county, Kenya. As a child, he was educated through the secondary school level, and today he is married and has three children of his own. To earn a living, he operates a boda boda business. John shares the interesting history behind the words, ‘boda boda’ as he says, ‘Boda boda is a corrupted word for border and was a very lucrative business at the Uganda-Kenya border in the past. It involved bicycle transport. With time, the trend has steadily spread to other areas of the country and has evolved to include motorcycle transport. Mine is a motorcycle and it is my livelihood. It has been sustaining me for five years now and I love it with all my heart.’

John is a long-time Zidisha member, obtaining his very first loan, back in April 2013 for $100. Although he was already operating his boda boda business at the time, he also wanted to get into farming to help supplement his income from the boda boda business. With the $100 loan, he was able to plough one acre of maize and beans. He also hoped that the profits from this secondary business would enable him to expand the boda boda business, with the purchase of a new motorcycle in the future.

The following year, in January 2014, John shared that his family was doing well and that his first Zidisha funded loan had truly impacted his family in a positive way. Since his last loan, he had purchased a new motorcycle and was raising his second loan of $263 to put towards planting maize, beans, and peas.

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As John continued to grow both of his businesses, he became more attuned to the needs of his community, noticing that there was a shortage of milk. To help solve this issue, he was able to use a $432 loan from Zidisha lenders, in October 2014, to purchase a dairy cow. In addition, his family would also benefit from this, as they would have a readily available source of milk as well.

By September 2015, John had been experimenting with cattle rearing for one year and found it to be a good business for him. He determined that the next step would be to purchase one more cow, and with a $692 loan from lenders, he was able to make this happen.

A year later, towards the end of 2016, John shared his next request with lenders, ‘Lenders once again thank you for your continuing support. I saw a need to purchase one acre of land at the cost of 250000. I  have managed to save 150000 from my harvest and some savings from my daily cows. I have been having some problem to feed my cows because of the extended drought, a lot of my income was buying hay for my daily cows. I have decided to buy one acre land, plant grass and lucerne that will support me annually. This will reduce the expenses of buying grass. I will focus more on my income to achieve my target come next year. Am targeting six good cows that will be able to supply milk the whole year.’

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John continued to work hard and managed to make steady progress in his business ventures. In 2018, he successfully raised two Zidisha funded loans for $134 and $1,160, and used the funds to purchase additional stock for his shop, which was managed by his wife. His stock included items such as, ‘boots, saddles, thermoses, jikos, mattresses and utensils.

Recently, as of February 2019, John has been busy preparing the land for planting season. With his most recent loan from lenders for $1,160, he was able to buy seeds and fertilizer. With three acres of his own, and three additional that he hoped to lease, his Zidisha lenders were a big help in allowing him to continue to grow his farming business.

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Since starting with Zidisha, John has done a great job of pivoting his businesses to both support his family and also to meet the needs of his community. On Feb 8, 2019 he shared, ‘Hello lenders am grateful for your finding my businesses are doing fine my motorcycle is running well, my Mali Mali shop is doing good and my cows are very good am selling milk well. The demand is high but very soon we will meet these demands. Am educating my three children in a good school and am paying comfortably without straining. I am happy for you lenders thank you indeed, am planning to grow my shop into a big store selling household equipment and continuing farming. Am certainly sure that I will achieve more.’

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Would you like to be a change maker in the life of an entrepreneur like John? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring members of the Zidisha community.