A Master of the Chicken Business

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I, Lucas Omuko, was born in one of the poorest and violent “hoods” of Thika. Second born in a family of Six brothers and sisters, it was not easy growing up. Many days we went without food, but mama was determined to send us all to school. Her belief was that at least with a high school education, we could get by, and be ready for the job market. I got good grades in high school, and I could see myself in Uni. However, this was not to be.’

When it came to her children’s education, Lucas’s mother was faced with a lot of difficult choices. With a desire to help his family, Lucas started taking a variety of odd jobs and ended up at a factory. He knew that he had the grades to attend college and secretly suffered knowing that he could do more with his life than carry around heavy boxes.

Finally, he’d had enough. After failing to secure a job for the day, he left the factory and never returned. He notes, ‘Instead, I sought solace in the only place that had meaning to me; a district library about four kilometers from where we lived.’ Unfortunately, now that he was not contributing financially to the family, he was ostracized and forced to leave his home.

However, he didn’t let this setback discourage him. Instead, he moved out and started applying the skills that he had taught himself regarding repairing electronics. He quickly became a repair technician, got married, and eventually pursued the college education that he had longed for, graduating in December 2015. He is even on course to soon complete his Master’s degree as well.

By early 2015, Lucas set his sights on the agri business. He saw the potential in raising chickens and began by building a standard chicken coop that could house 300-500 birds. He says, ‘The reason for going into chicken is because I realized that the farmers in Kisii cannot satisfy the existing demand for chicken and eggs. Eggs are being imported from Uganda. I am aiming to be the person people come to when they want affordable chicken in Kisii. To achieve this, I am seeking someone, or people who will see beyond the cry for self preservation and into the desire to break free of the poverty cycle, not just for myself, but others too, by providing them with affordable food sources; someone or people to lend me a hand and see this vision come true.’

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With this vision, he soon after discovered Zidisha. In January 2016, Lucas requested his first Zidisha funded loan of $100 which he used to increase his number of chickens. A few months later, with a 3 part plan in place, he requested his next loan of $202. He used the first third of the loan to purchase feeding ingredients to make his own feed. He predicted that this would cut down his feeding costs by about 35%. In addition, part of the loan would go towards purchasing 50 new birds. Thirdly, he planned to use the remainder of the loan to make some improvements to his chicken coop to accommodate for more ventilation and space.

A few months later, in July 2016, Lucas requested his next loan of $303 to purchase more birds. He also planned to create a raised floor on one side of the coop to separate the growing birds from the mature birds. Finally, with the rest of this loan, he purchased additional vaccines and medicine.

On December 7, 2017, Lucas excitedly shared, ‘I am thankful for having my two sons with me at home. We get to play games together, and we all look forward to the evenings when I get back home so we can share stories and try to beat each other in playing soccer video games. I don’t always win, neither do they. The highlight of it all is getting daily updates from the elder son, Amos, on how the chicken are doing. He has taken up the role of managing the chicken, and I am reduced to overseeing what he does every once in awhile. He has set up a routine for himself, and has even mastered how to mix the feeds. He sometimes forgets to provide water for the sixty high-grade chicks (a later addition from five weeks ago) in the night (they drink a lot of water). About four times I have had to do it in the middle of the night. He has transformed into an accountable and responsible teen. What else could a parent wish for? I am thankful.’

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By January 2017, Luas was ready to buy an incubator. He had found that a hen could only successfully manage seven big eggs, so, with a $454 Zidisha funded loan in hand, he set out to purchase a good incubator that would require little attention. An added benefit was that he could share it with other farmers in his community. He predicted that the incubator could hold around 96 eggs.

On January 9, 2017, Lucas took to his discussion board and posted, ‘Thank you lenders for your confidence and contributions. I really appreciate your generosity and kindness. I realize there are many people who borrow, and some never get fully funded. Once again, thank you. Over time, hope to achieve one of my dreams; to be the most affordable source of chicken in the region. With my knowledge of feed formulation, different from the mainstream ideas, and disease management (again different from the mainstream practices), and now the ability to hatch chicks, I can say it is more likely that once I am done with own studies, I will devote a good amount of time to grow this venture, and all this because of your help.’

Lucas requested his most recent loan for $676 in August 2017. He says, ‘With this current loan, I will invest in something I tried before, and which is turning out to be central to my interest in education through poultry production. Animal feed production. This is a viable market, and the demand is there. I will use this loan to buy maize, and fishmeal primarily, and what is left, I will start as savings for a mill/crusher, or animal feeds machine.’

He has even inspired some other members of his community to get into the chicken farming business themselves!

Most recently, on August 27, 2017, he shares, ‘I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your investment in me. Your trusting me with your money is something that I cannot thank you enough for. This loan will go a long way to alleviate some financial constraints I have had because I am able to free some of my finances for school, and still have enough to invest in my proposed project. I really want to upset the chicken market balance in Kisii. I still look forward to the day when I shall be able to reduce production costs to a point where I can be the most affordable supplier of Chicken and feeds in Kisii. It is a big ask, but possible.

Lucas has truly taken what might have seemed to be an insurmountable problem, and now serves as an inspiration for his family, sons, and community. He concludes, ‘Being able to manage my son’s education is one of the reasons we have worked to grow the business. This would not have been possible without the money from Zidisha lenders.’

Are you an advocate for education and change? If so, head on over to our Lend page and find other incredible borrowers who are hoping to change their lives through education.

Zidisha team spotlight: Rodrigo Reyes, CTO


Rodrigo with son Mati in their hometown, Guayaquil, Ecuador


By Julia Kurnia, Director

Rodrigo joined Zidisha as an engineer over a year ago, and became Chief Technical Officer in January.  It’s already hard to imagine Zidisha without him.

The role of CTO is central at Zidisha, because we are a technology organization.  By automating tasks hitherto done manually, our technological infrastructure makes it possible to offer microloans at far lower cost to borrowers than traditional microlending institutions.  And technology is what enables the direct connections between lenders and borrowers that make the Zidisha community one of a kind.

As CTO, Rodrigo has the incredibly important job of overseeing the technological infrastructure on which our platform depends: our website code, database, website server, Android app, data science and metric tracking platforms, and more.  Zidisha members produce tens of thousands of communications and transactions each day.  It’s thanks to Rodrigo that these connections take place accurately and seamlessly.

Rodrigo is not only a talented engineer and skilled communicator, but also shares our community’s passion for social justice and bringing people together to improve lives.  I am inspired daily by his dedication to excellence in the service of a higher purpose.

I finally managed to catch up with the busy Rodrigo this month, and he generously took some time off from his many responsibilities to participate in this interview.

How did you hear about Zidisha?

Late one night, I was reading Hacker News while also looking for some interesting project to collaborate with. That’s when I saw Zidisha’s ad and it struck a chord for me: it was a microcredit project, they were helping real people with real problems and I had previously worked for another NGO around the same area!!! Besides, they were looking for a developer to help them improve their platform and that was exactly what I had been doing for the last ten years for different startups around the world!!!

So, I spent some time making sure Zidisha was a real NGO and the more I read about it, the more enthusiastic I felt. So, I sent my resume as fast as I could and prayed someone would notice it. And indeed, Julia wrote me back some time later and I was given the opportunity to start collaborating with Zidisha.

Why do you choose to spend time working with Zidisha?

I’ve been involved in social work one way or another since I was in high school. By the time I got out of university, my career looked to me more and more unrelated to my social vocation: a software developer working for social justice was not a very common thing indeed, but that was what I wanted to do!!! Probably out of this disconnection, once I got my degree, I started to look for an opportunity like this. Part of me thought it was not really going to happen ever, but even though it took some time, here I am!!! So, Zidisha’s opportunity to combine my profession and my social vocation feels like the fulfillment of a longstanding wish to me.

What does your work with Zidisha involve?

Currently, I am Zidisha’s CTO and I am responsible for our software platform and the decisions related to its maintenance and evolution. I am actively involved in both creating new features and improving the ones we already have. Lots of coding and research, both of which I love. 🙂

Do you have a favorite Zidisha entrepreneur story?

Yes. It is called “The stuff heroes are made of” and it’s about Sammy Kanja, a founding member of Zidisha’s community in Kenya. He is a volunteer mentor that in October 2013 lost contact with one of the members he had helped, Mr. Francis Kiiru. After several unsuccessful attempts to call, Mr. Kanja went to visit Mr. Kiiru’s home and discovered that Mr. Kiiru had been injured during the Westgate Mall shootings in Nairobi and had been hospitalized. His condition was serious and he had no money to pay for his medical bills.

At this point Mr. Kanja could have gone home quietly, telling himself that there was nothing he could do to help. Instead, he traded his business assets, the source of his family’s livelihood and hope for a better financial future, to procure life-saving medical care for Mr Kiiru!!!

Ultimately, Mr. Kanja’s story was known and lenders touched by it raised enough to cover the cost of a new high-yielding dairy cow for Mr. Kanja’s family.  Mr. Kanja tells us that the new cow is extraordinarily productive, yielding as much as 20 liters of milk per day.  He keeps two liters for his family and sells the rest each day, generating a comfortable flow of cash for school fees and other family expenses.

When I read this story, I was humbled by this man’s and his family’s generosity!!! Stories like that bring back to me a song’s verse in Spanish that goes something like “¿Quién dice que todo está perdido? Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón” (“Who says that all hope is lost? Here I am, offering my heart”).

What do you like to do in your free time?

Traveling with my family, reading, programming, social work, watching movies and practicing Yoga. 🙂

Rodrigo, thank you so much for sharing this interview, and for giving so generously of your time, energy and talents.

Styling Her Way to Success

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a single mother with six children, Dorice Mikanga has not always had an easy life. She was forced to end her own schooling when she found out that she was pregnant while in Primary school. She then got married and had two more children but found herself in a bad home situation as her husband had hallucinations and would beat her at all hours of the day. After ending the marriage she eventually married again and had three more children, however, this was also a troubled marriage as her husband drank heavily and did not provide for the family in any way.

After 6 tumultuous years, Dorice summed up the courage to start a new life for herself and her children. She returned home to see her Mother, acquired a passport, and set off to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid. Unfortunately, the family that she worked for treated her poorly so after her contract ended she was ready to return home to Kenya.

Although she didn’t have much, she used the little money she had to start two businesses, one selling used clothes, and the other a beauty shop and salon called Mama Vera where she also sells beauty products such as shampoo, hair extensions, and wigs. Her shop is located in the Kima area which is home to around 50,000 residents. Dorice notes that with it’s semi urban lifestyle, ‘my business is bound to grow by leaps and bounds.’ There are also two schools within close proximity, which account for a large number of her customers.

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Dorice first discovered Zidisha in June 2016 and began with a modest loan of $20. At this point, she was receiving about five customers each day and during the busy season in December, had around 10 customers per day. With her first Zidisha funded loan, she hoped to put the money towards a new digital ceramic blow dry machine. She adds, ‘my current one is not enough as blow dry is becoming more popular hair styling gadget here.Thanks lenders hopefully you will help my dream become a reality.’

A few months later, Dorice was ready for a second loan. In September 2016, she requested a $40 loan to purchase smooth egg shampoo in bulk. She mentioned that this is the best product on the market and that buying in smaller quantities would be much more expensive. She determined that after buying in bulk, she could also re-sell the product to individuals and other business owners.

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She requested a second loan in September for $111, which she was excited to put towards an electric massager. She says that she is ‘slowly turning my small salon into a beauty parlour.’ Initially, she expected to charge $5 for 30 minutes for using the massager.

By December, Dorice was once again ready to expand. With this next loan of $272 she was ready to purchase a hair drying unit. For her business, this meant she was entering into the busiest time of the year. With only one hair dryer on hand, she knew it would not be enough to sustain the surge of business she would be receiving. The new machine would handle the excess clients who would previously have had to wait when she only had one machine. She was also excited because this new dryer would also have steaming abilities as well.

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On December 8, 2016, she posted on her discussion board, This business has helped me take my daughter to a good school. She is finishing high school now. Thank you my lenders.’

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By April 2017, Dorice was ready to share an update and request a new loan. She mentioned, ‘Hello lenders. Thank you for my past loans, truly I am succeeding. I have managed to buy some machines for my salon and I am planning to relocate to a more up market stall and locate my salon there in order to have customers who pay well.’

For this loan she requested, $497 in order to purchase a modern salon station which would include a manicure set, large mirror, reclining chair, and a place to house all styling accessories. She notes, ‘this station will allow me to beautify my salon and make it modern.’

A few months later, Dorice requested her most recent Zidisha funded loan of $859. She begins by sharing this inspiring update with her lenders, ‘Thank you my lenders and Zidisha team at large. It has been a very fruitful walk with Zidisha. My lenders, you have transformed my life, with every loan my business is doing so well that I never miss a chance.’

With this loan, Dorice planned to hire an extra 10 girls to work in her business. She explains, ‘For me this is a great loan it has come at the right time as Kenya is going through the election period. Most people here in the western region move from cities to come and vote in their original homes. So the village is flooding with city people and they have to maintain their hair styles.’

Shortly after, on August 15, 2017 Dorice shared on her discussion page, ‘I want to register my great gratitude to my lenders. I wish I could name you all. Thank you very much, this is doing me a great service and I will prosper.’ She also says, ‘I promise to be faithful and hardworking so that one day I may also be an instrumental lender.’

It’s incredible to see how far Dorice has come. It’s clear that she has so much to be proud of and is certainly a source of inspiration to each of her six children. For Dorice, Zidisha, her lenders, and her business have truly transformed her life. She shares, ‘Wow. Thanks lenders for putting your trust in me. My dreams are unfolding before my eyes. In this part of the world where poverty is the order of the day and banks are charging poor people a lot to get a loan, I say thank you. My lenders I will never disappoint you. This business has seen my children through secondary school and they are still continuing. I am praying hard for God to help me see all my children succeed in life even as a single mother.’

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Like Dorice, there are hundreds of other borrowers ready for the next loan that could change their lives. Check out our lend page to learn more.

A Little Goes A Long Way

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Michael Kihungi Makumi, age 27, is a Kenyan citizen, and was raised in a big family as the second of four boys. Education has been an important part of his life. After making his way through secondary school and passing his O level exams, he was fortunate to attend college where he earned a diploma in Computer Studies. After completing his studies, he started off his career at an agricultural firm called, ‘Kenya Agricultural Research Institute where he worked in the computer labs. After that, he transitioned to working at the Ministry of Health for his county, still working in the IT department.

Oftentimes, men and women find themselves thrown into the realm of entrepreneurship because they are frustrated and unhappy with their options or current situation. This was certainly the case for Michael. Since he was only considered a ‘casual laborer’ or contract employee, in his job, he was laid off after three months.

However, instead of remaining frustrated and angry with his circumstances, he decided to channel his energy and meager savings to start a business of his own. Using his education and training with computers and IT, he now does computer repairs, mobile phone repairs and sells memory cards, CCTV camera installation, and does troubleshooting and diagnostics.

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In addition to his business, he has also been able to take on an intrinsically rewarding new opportunity. He says, ‘Recently I was fortunate enough to get employed by a medical firm called eastern deanery aids relief program as their Health Management Information Systems Officer, on a yearly contract basis. It deals with taking care of people living with HIV and AIDS by providing comprehensive care throughout their lives for free. The program is funded by CDC and PEPFAR. It not paying but the satisfaction I get when I contribute to making the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS better, it’s payment enough.’

Since partnering with Zidisha, he has also been able to add a medium sized cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. He says, ‘Zidisha has really helped me a lot, I can never take it for granted. Through Zidisha, I have also been able to buy a full CCTV installation kit, a cordless drill and two more computers for my cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your continued support. This great level of kindness that you show me and my business ventures will never go unpaid, I thank God for all my dear lenders and also the Zidisha Team and may He bless you all with the blessings of Abraham. Shalom!

One of the reasons why Michael’s Zidisha story is so impressive is because it shows firsthand that a little really can go a long way. From the information above, it’s easy to assume that Michael has been partnering with Zidisha for many years and has raised thousands of dollars in loans, and in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Michael’s journey with Zidisha started quite recently, in January of 2017, and his first two loans of four total, were under $10 USD. Many of us mistakenly believe that big changes require deep pockets, and sometimes they do, however, Michael, and many other Zidisha borrowers would argue that a $10 loan could be the start of something really significant.

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Michael’s first loan, back in January 2017, was only for $5 and with this small sum he was able to buy memory cards wholesale from a local vendor. In addition to the money, Michael saw the bigger picture that this was also a great opportunity to build trust and a good long term relationship with his lenders.

A few months later, he requested his second Zidisha funded loan in May 2017 for $8. With this loan he purchased a new CCTV installation kit which consisted of: pliers, a crimping tool cable stripper, cable tester, and other gadgets. Michael notes, ‘This is a worthwhile business and the toolkit would be a great starter pack and it will go a long way.’

Later that month, he found himself in need of some additional business tools. He requested a loan of $87 to purchase a drill. He mentions, ‘A drill will assist me in provision of quality work, instead of hammering the screws inside the walls while setting up the cameras, which usually ends up messy, a drill would go a long way in neatly securing the screws and the cameras.’

Most recently, Michael requested a loan of $198 in July 2017. His largest loan yet, this allowed him to purchase more computers for his shop to start a cyber cafe and computer literacy classes. He explains the felt need for this as he says, ‘We are in a digital world where almost everything is run by computers. Internet services provision and computer literacy is very essential. I am looking to buy two computers at the cost of 10,000KES or 96.39 US dollars for each computer making it 20,000KES or 192.77 US dollars for the two computers. I already have an internet connection from a reliable and local internet service provider Safaricom Limited. A computer literacy package or training will go for 5,000KES or 48.19 US dollars per person, and with a projection of at least 5 new enrollments per month, it would make it 25,000KES or 240.96 US dollars as profit. Surfing the internet will be 2KES per minute. I will also create employment since I will have to hire a good computer tutor and a cyber cafe attendant.’

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This new venture proved to be a strong idea for two reasons. First, a cyber cafe with computer literacy classes clearly falls under Michael’s education and area of expertise. In addition, he did his research and determined that quality computer literacy classes were not being offered in his area.

As he reflects on his months with Zidisha so far, he can already see changes happening in his life. He shares with his lenders, ‘Throughout this journey of self employment, Zidisha has really come through for me especially by financing my projects to buy gadgets to ease my working conditions and to attain profit margins since now I do not have to hire equipment to do my work, I have my own. As a volunteer mentor, I thank God for Zidisha, and I will always be in debt to all my lenders and those who have always come through for me.’

While Michael loves to work hard in his business, he also enjoys giving back and having fun. When he’s not working you can find him doing charity work and visiting the sick as a Community Healthcare Worker, or listening to good meaningful music. Also, he wants lenders to know that if you are an animal lover as he is, he encourages each of you to come visit Kenya’s beautiful national parks.

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A small loan can make a big impact. Head on over to our lend page to read about our other amazing borrowers.

‘Kicking Away Poverty, One Chick at a Time’

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Edwin Gitene was forced to drop out of his electrical engineering program in 2010 when we could no longer afford to pay the school fees. However, changing paths turned out to be a hidden blessing as he found a true passion for poultry farming. He says, ‘I was selected to be one of the youths in my county to pioneer a poultry farming project dubbed ‘kicking away poverty one chick at a time’. The project, aimed at alleviating poverty among young adults in my county, involved donating one hen, one cock and two chicks to selected youth.’

Edwin is so proud of what he has achieved since first starting and when he discovered Zidisha he has grown his business to 200 chickens. He is able to supply chickens and eggs to a local school and also supplies eggs in local shopping centers. His expenses tend to include: chicken feed and veterinary services. He is also able to supply local jobs by employing three members of his community. His greatest dream is to be a model poultry farmer in his country and to inspire as many young adults as possible so consider agribusiness as a viable business undertaking.

Through his partnership with Zidisha, he has been able to continually expand and grow his business and has even been able to return to school where he is studying in the school of business management.

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Edwin requested his first Zidisha funded loan for $150 in July 2014. The purpose of this initial loan, was to expand his chicken structure. He notes, ‘I wish to expand and modernize my structure. I currently have a traditional structure that more nor less just serves as a shelter for my chicken. My veterinary consultant has also advised me to do this so as to minimize the risk of the chicken contracting diseases. The new structure will be raised from the ground to reduce  the cold as well as make it easier for cleaning.’ Some of the costs included: iron sheets, cardboard, poles, wire, timber, and labor.

For his second loan of $147 in October 2014, he was ready for two big changes. The first, was a modification to his existing shelter to accommodate his increasing numbers of chickens. He had been advised by his veterinarian that this would be wise. He also needed to purchase a back up generator so that his chickens would receive adequate lighting as his area had frequent power outages which can distort the feeding regime and in turn, limits their growth.

By December, Edwin was in need of another loan for $145. He shared with lenders, ‘I will use the loan to purchase advanced electric brooders. Currently I have been using bulbs which blow frequently and they had been costing me a lot replacing them. Not to mention that I have been losing on average, 20 infant chicks every two weeks due to the cold. With the purchase of the brooders I will be able to contain this situation and increase my productivity.’

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In July of 2015, Edwin requested his next loan and asked for $268. With this loan, he was in need of a chaff cutter. He was confident that this would cut down on the recurring costs of chicken feeds. The machine would allow him to grind maize and cobs mixed with different nutrients for his chickens. In addition, he knew that he could also mill for his community neighbors for additional business earnings.

With this loan, Edwin thanked lenders for, ‘helping me realize more success and improve the living condition of my family and society as a whole. With your help hope is always reborn in me. Thank you great guys.’

As his business continued to grow and expand, Edwin found that it was time to invest in a better record keeping system. Therefore, his next loan, in November 2015 for $400 was for a computer, printer, and internet modem. He predicted that the computer would cost around $300, and $100 for the printer. Before this, he had to travel several miles to access internet services so he knew that this was the right next step in his business.

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As Edwin prepared for his next loan, he shared with his lenders, ‘I take this chance to once again thank you for the number of loans you have helped me raise ever since I joined this wonderful organization. The loans have helped me realize much success and I owe it all to you lenders.’

By January 2017, Edwin was ready to make some big changes in his business by adding a greenhouse. Therefore, for this loan he requested, $776. He found that it was time to diversify his business and while he had already started planting onions, kale, and bananas, he was ready to venture into growing watermelons. He predicted that after four months, his watermelon crop would see a profit of $500.

The cost breakdown for this loan would include: Ultra Violet treated polythene paper for $400 ,a 500 litre water tank for $80, a drip irrigation kit for $70, steel bars at $90, labor at $50, nails at $20, seeds at $5, fertilizer at $30, and transport and miscellaneous costs for $70. Always wise with his money, he opted to cut on the cost of posts by using less metal and more trees that were readily available.

Most recently, Edwin requested another loan in July 2017 for $1,211. He was happy to share with lenders this great update, ‘As planned, things are working out well and indeed I have experienced a good harvest.’ He was able to sell this first harvest of watermelons to both retailers and in a nearby market directly to his community members.

He continues, ‘I have realized that I can still supply more greenhouse products to help feed people in residential places within my hometown. I am planning to extend the greenhouse to measure 75 meters by 30 meters, that is roughly triple the current size. Apart from watermelons I will also plant tomatoes and onions that have shown a significant rise in demand with a rising population within my hometown. I will have the greenhouse subdivided to three sections for each of the horticultural crops I will venture in.’

Lenders and community members alike are excited to see how this growth will allow him to serve his community and neighbors on an even larger scale in the coming months and years.

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Would you like to read more about our inspiring entrepreneurs? Head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories about other business owners who are transforming their communities.


Purity at Work

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Purity Mwirigi is a woman who wears many hats and roles in her life. She is first and foremost a single mother of a son. She is also in her mid thirties, graduated from Katheri High School, and worked in a supermarket for 6 years before starting her first business. Initially, she started a cosmetics shop in Katheri Market while her son was still a baby. She says that later on she noticed that there was a high demand for stationery and textbooks in her market, which is how she conceived of the idea for her current business.

She is proud of her home and shares with lenders that, ‘The uniqueness of my land is that I was born on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and near the Mount Kenya Forest there are so many game parks and game reserves around.’

Right now, her business consists of photocopying, printing, and typing services. She notes that each of these services are in high demand because there are many schools in the surrounding area, and she is the only shop in the market that provides these services.

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With her profits, she is able to pay fees for her sons’ schooling, he hopes to be a pilot when he grows up. In addition, the remainder of her profits are put towards upkeep for her home and re-invested back into the business. It’s through re-investing that allows her to add to her stock of textbooks. She says, ‘I chose this business since it’s easy to run and is in high demand. Education will always remain the main factor in our societies; therefore books will always be needed.’

Since joining Zidisha back in 2015, Purity has now successfully funded 6 loans. She received her first loan of $100 in April 2015. All $100 of this first loan was used to buy textbooks, which she predicted would turn a profit of $70 in the span of 3 months. She has found that the textbook business is a good market to be in because she can receive almost double the buying price in a short period of time.

For her next loan, she raised $189 in June 2015 in order to purchase a printer that she could use for printing, scanning, and photocopy services. She expected the printer to cost around, $133. With the rest of the loan, she would have money remaining to buy printer paper and ink cartridges. Purity was excited by this loan because she knew it would open the door for her to better serve her current customers as well as the potential to acquire new customers as well.

By September 2015, Purity was once again ready to make some improvements to her business. With this next loan, she raised $367, $180 of which she used to purchase primary and high school revision booklets. Afterwards, she would have $180 remaining to purchase additional printing ink and 26 reams of printing paper.

For her fourth loan, Purity requested $550 in February of 2016 to start expanding her business. In addition to her current services, she was ready to add money transfer services. She predicted that this would benefit her business in a few different ways. First, this would allow current customers to access their cash through their phones to pay for their services in her business. In addition, including this in demand service would allow her to retain new customers as well. Purity was able to penetrate a growing market and serve her community in a much needed way. She says, ‘In fact mobile money services are in high demand in my home area since the nearest service is quite far, so my services will help ease the distance one has to travel to access this service.’

The first part of this loan was put towards acquiring an agent number. She would also need additional cash on hand for when clients need to withdrawal money. Thirdly, Purity would need to purchase a mobile phone hand set for the agent sim card. Finally, the last step would be to re-brand her business to include this new service. Going into this loan, she was able to use some of her savings in addition to her requested Zidisha loan.

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In September 2016, Purity kindly shared with her lenders, ‘Hi, may I take this opportunity to say thank you Zidisha family for the continued support you have afforded me. My son and I will forever be grateful for this support.’

For her next loan of $829 in September of 2016, Purity was in need of more stock, including, supplies of stationery, pens, textbooks, etc. With this loan, she also needed to expand her credit line for the money transfer part of her business. The remainder of the loan, combined with some of her own savings would go towards, purchasing memory sticks for mobile phones, renewing her business license, and obtaining more cash on hand for clients that want to withdrawal money.

On April 17, 2017, Purity shared this inspiring update on her discussion page, ‘You have made my dreams come true my dear lenders. With the loans you have given me my lifestyle has changed. I have taken my son to a good school, and I can donate at charity homes. l also encourage youth to start up their own businesses so that they can be dependable. May almighty God enlarge your territories my Zidisha family.’

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Most recently, Purity requested her largest loan yet, for $1,218 in July 2017. At this time, she experienced a large demand for her printing services, particularly, as her country prepared for their general elections in August. She used this loan to purchase, ‘printing paper and ink cartridges, textbooks and stationery, M-pesa cash, 6 months rent, re-branding, annual license, 2 months salary for her assistant.

On July 21, Purity shared with lenders, ‘My assistant is one of the those who is benefiting from my business. She comes from a poor background and she has enrolled for food and beverage courses through savings from the salary I pay her. I have promised to support her tuition, thanks to Zidisha.’

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With this loan, she is optimistic that by the end of 2017 she will be able to expand her business and create more jobs for the jobless youth in her community.

Were you inspired by Purity’s story? If so, head on over to our Lend page, and make a difference in the life and community of other Zidisha entrepreneurs.


A Budding Businessman


‘I still consider myself as a budding businessman but I hope to start competing with the big boys in business very soon.’ As one of Zidisha’s younger borrowers, Ian Ndirangu has now proven himself as he balances his growing business with his academic studies. In addition to running his business, he has also been taking business management courses in order to learn more about record keeping and managing cash flow.

When Ian first joined Zidisha back in 2015, he had a business selling small items such as handkerchiefs and trinkets which was a great side business as he was also busy with his college studies. He was able to gain a loyal customer base of clients as his main source of business.

Regarding this business he said, ‘It is a tough business but I am glad that it brings food on the table, pays for education and even supports my family (my mother and sister ) in a small way. I make an average net profit of about $180 per month since I have few overheads.’

So far, Ian has had 6 Zidisha funded loans ranging from 2015-2017 and has maintained an impressive 93% repayment rate. His first loan was a request for $100 back in January 2015. Ian used this first loan to boost his inventory by adding more variety to his inventory including sunglasses and watches. He felt certain that this addition of inventory would make his business more profitable and would positively impact his life and family.

A few months later, in April 2015, he was ready for a second loan of $198. Because Ian does not have a storefront he must travel to his customers. Therefore, with this loan he chose to purchase a bicycle to increase his mobility. He predicted that the bike would cost $150 and he could then use the remainder of the loan to increase his stock of inventory.

Ian 4

By August of 2015, while Ian had found success with his mobile business, he was ready to invest in his own storefront. This way, he could refer his steady customer base to a central location. This would require an investment of $359, with $80 in monthly rent, $130 for shelves and other fittings to customize the stall, and finally, $120 for a business permit.

His vision for this next stage of business was to continue with the mobile sales himself, and to hire a member of his community to run the store. He was excited about this because of the great need for job opportunities in his town.

On August 10, 2015, Ian shared his gratitude for the Zidisha community when he said, ‘Hello, Zidisha and all lenders. I am grateful for your kind contributions towards my loan. You have shown how much you are committed in making sure I succeed, I won’t let you down. You have made me the way I am today and I give God all the Glory. I will keep you updated of my progress.’

A year later, in August 2016, Ian said, ‘My business has grown big and I am grateful that Zidisha has been a big part of this growth. I now need a bigger store to accommodate my growing number of customers.’ At this point, he requested another loan for $540. He noted that $250 would be used for leasing a new store and $150 would be put towards renovations and branding. The remainder of the loan would be used to purchase additional stock.

On August 26, Ian shared, ‘Hello all, I am fine and doing great in business. I owe credit to you all Zidisha and the lenders you have transformed my life and a lot of youths like me.’

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With each loan, it became clear that Ian was growing in confidence in both himself and his business. In December of 2016, he requested a loan of $809 to travel to Uganda to increase his inventory of fabric and shoes which are much cheaper in Uganda compared to Kenya. With the end of the year approaching, he knew he would soon see a surge in sales. He also mentioned, ‘My business has grown by leaps and bounds. I have managed to increase my income three-folds in the last year. This is largely attributable to the Zidisha loans which have given me an edge over the competition. Thank you very much for your continued support.’

For his most recent loan in July 2017, he requested, ‘$1,190. Ready to combine his academic knowledge and practical experience, he said, ‘My business is doing well and I now feel confident and ready to diversify it. I want to add sales of electrical items such as installation cables, wall sockets, bulbs etc. I have done my feasibility study and this is one area that is growing very fast due to rapid urbanization of my region.’

He planned to use $650 to purchase an assortment of electric cables and $350 to buy sockets, bulb holders, and bulbs. The remainder of the loan would go towards other items including: wire clips, insulating tapes, etc.

Last month, on July 15, 2017, Ian shared this inspiring update on his discussion page, ‘Hello to all, lenders and Zidisha family. I am always grateful for you have made my dreams come true. I am doing great and my family too, it is my pleasure to inform you that the profits I make through my business have enabled me to pay college fees for my young sister..who is pursuing her studies..and feeding other siblings..Thanks and GOD bless you all.’

Would you like to support another millennial entrepreneur like Ian? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other young innovators.