Going To Greater Heights

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Evans Sackitey is a hard working entrepreneur living in Prampram, Ghana. At 33 years old, he has gained experience, graduating from the Tema Technical Institute in 2004 and also earning a City and Guilds Certificate in Block Laying and Concreting. He notes that since then he has been working as a mason on building projects on a contract basis.

Evans is used to long days, as he usually wakes up at 5 am to catch the first bus to his work site. Depending on the location, he often lodges on site for the rest of the week to reduce his overall transportation costs.

He is also currently working to start a cement sale business as an additional income stream for himself. He shares, ‘My dream is to start a cement shop business and later block molding. The latter would require heavier investment so that is for the long-term. A man I once worked for gifted to me his unused container. I intend to refurbish this for my cement shop business. This would help augment my income and make me a business owner. Currently, I need to weld, screed and roof the container and get it ready for this business. When given a loan, I would use it for these preparatory works. The source of income that will be used to repay the loan will come from my masonry work.’

So far Evans has acquired five Zidisha funded loans, his first being in December of 2013 for $50. He enthusiastically shares, ‘I would use the loan to start the preparatory works needed for my planned cement shop. Currently, I need to weld, screed and roof my cement shop container and get it ready for business. I would use this loan to pay for welding costs. There are a few rusts and cracks that need to be fixed on the body of the container to make it more secure. I have spoken to a Welder located in my neighborhood and he has assured that he can do this job perfectly.’

A month later, in January of 2014, he continued to jump in headfirst with getting his side business off the ground. This required a second Zidisha funded loan of $429 which he used to purchase wood, nails, and plywood roofing sheet to cover his container for the cement business.

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By 2015, Evans was prepared to ask lenders for a third loan. This time around he requested $480 and shares, ‘I am very grateful to you lenders for all your help in refurbishing my new container. Although I have not started business with it yet, but I have made an important preparation for this business. I feel more confident and reassured that this business would take off and be a good investment in the future.’

With the funds, he was ready to purchase a plot of land for the business, which he predicted would cost around GHc 5,000. He would start by paying a deposit and would continue to pay installments on the property going forward. Because he already had a salaried job with a construction company, he felt confident about being able to manage the payments going forward. He is also able to work on the weekends as a mason, which brings in additional income as well.

The following year, Evans returned to lenders for a loan of $1,226 in April of 2016. With this loan, he hoped to complete the payment of his land. In addition, he wanted to use the remainder of the loan to register his land at the Ghana lands commission.

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Most recently, in July 2017, Evans was able to secure another Zidisha funded loan of $2,051 to purchase a concrete mixing machine. Before, he had been renting a machine and he knew that purchasing a machine of his own would really cut down on costs in the long run.

Partnering with Zidisha has been a life changing experience for Evans and has continued to bring happiness and fulfillment to his life as he says, ‘My time with Zidisha and lender’s have been the most happiest time ever in my life.’

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Recently, Evans shared this message with his lenders, ‘Hello lender’s, My construction business is moving from one stage to another. Many thanks to you for making me an entrepreneur and a good influence to others who are now following my footsteps. Thank you. I believe with your support I will go greater heights and also give back to society by employing the jobless.’

Would you like to support another Zidisha entrepreneur, who is making a difference in their community? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read about dozens of business owners making big changes.

 

 

The Multi Passionate Entrepreneur

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Kusi Obodum is a multi passionate entrepreneur, dividing his time between teaching, selling with the company HerbaLife and working as a driver. He was born into a large family, as the seventh of eight children. After high school, he was anxious to attend college, however, he had to wait a year before his test results came and before he could save up the funds. He pursued an education degree from the Manpong Technical College of Education and upon graduating, received his first post at Abirem D/A JHS in the Kwabre East District in 2012.

Soon after, he got married in 2013. At the time, his wife had been working as a trader. However, once they had their first son in 2014, she decided to stop trading to look after their son full-time. While this was the right decision for their family, Kusi knew that it would be a struggle to support his growing family on his small teaching salary.

His first side hustle was with an American nutrition company called HerbaLife. He was able to sell the product and would then receive bonuses and commissions. Unfortunately, as business slowed, Kusi found that he was ready to try something new.

This led him to enter the vehicle transportation business. He shares, ‘This vehicle business has been of help to the community a lot. l use to carry people from place to place to have their own businesses done. People chatter the vehicle which aid them to alight at a specific places of work and this is helping the community a lot. I selected this kind of business to support the HerbaLife which has been running slow over some months now. I got my income from teaching and the vehicles transportation as well . I also help in carrying who are nearby to depart to their various schools.’

When he first started marketing the HerbaLife products, he really struggled. He would talk about the products but didn’t have the money to keep any inventory on hand to show potential customers. Fortunately, his first Zidisha funded loan of $9 completely changed this. With his $9 Zidisha loan in hand, he bought some products, particularly the ‘Fibre and Herbs.’ He knew that from the customer’s perspective, being able to see and touch the product in person, made all the difference.

The following year, in March of 2017. Kusi secured his second Zididsha funded loan of $91. By this time, he had shifted to focus on his transport business. He was having some car problems and without the repairs, it would be a struggle to continue his business.

A few months later, in July 2017, his car required a new engine, estimating a new cost of $328. Fortunately, his loyal Zidisha lenders were happy to lend a helping hand. He also notes that this will allow him to be punctual in his work, as he won’t have to worry about car problems.

Most recently, in October of 2017, Kusi asked lenders for his largest loan yet, $888. He continues, ‘I will thank lenders of what they have been doing for me. God richly bless them. My vehicle still have a mechanical fault which needs to be resolved once and for all. The tire, the dashboard and as the body have become old. This will help increase my income for myself, the family and the community as a whole and some will also go to the charity fund. I will be expecting a percentage increase of about 70.’

Kusi would also like his lenders to know that his son, Wilford is now two years old and is in the Creative Learning Academy. Kusi hopes that one day his son will grow up to be a renowned businessman with many employees!

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With the help of Zidisha, Kusi has been able to combine his strengths, talents, and education to create multiple streams on income for his family. By doing this, even when one stream slows down, he has two others to help sustain him. Did you enjoy Kusi’s story? Make sure to head over to our Lend page where you can check out the stories of our other inspiring entrepreneurs around the world.

Pharmacy & Farming

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Kipruto Kiptarus is a 23 year old Kenyan who is commonly known by the nickname Rush. He is the sixth child in his family, with 2 brothers and four sisters. Both parents are hard workers as his father is a ‘matatu’ which is a driver, and his mother is a farmer and herbalist. Throughout his life, Rush has helped her look after the livestock and fetch herbs from the forest. He even credits her for his interest in livestock farming and studying medicine for his diploma course in pharmacy. In addition, as a student he even did his research with her, comparing herbal medicines to medicine in the modern world.

In May 2014, Rush started his business with five hens and a cock. At the time, he was also pursuing his course in pharmacy. He found that even as a busy student, he still had some free time in the evenings and weekends, which he could devote to his business. With help from a carpenter, he built a poultry house and a few months later, purchased five more hens and two sheep. By October, sixty chicks had hatched, though some did not survive due to the weather conditions, limited space, and improper vaccination. As he learned and improved, his second attempt was more successful. With his earnings he was able to buy two young bulls and a secondhand motorcycle. It was then that he discovered Zidisha and was excited to learn and continue to grow his business.

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For his first two Zidisha funded loans, Rush obtained $100 in September 2015 and $99 in December 2015. With these loans, he was excited to improve his livestock production by improving his structures. He chose to put up a larger poultry house to accommodate more hens and an improved facility for chicks, with lantern lamps for heat and light, feed troughs, and vaccines. He also hoped to repair the roof for his sheep house and construct a dairy house for dairy cattle. With any remaining funds, he hoped to increase his herd of sheep.

Shortly thereafter, Rush was ready to pursue a third loan in February 2016 for $198. He was ready to purchase two young bulls which would cost between $120 and $150. The remaining money would be put towards the construction of a fence for partitioning the grazing field. With this loan, he excitedly shares, ‘I am looking forward that this will contribute to my future firm investment. It will help me to further my career in medicine, for paying my fee and also supporting my parents and siblings.’

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In April of 2016, Rush was prepared to expand again with a loan of $400. With this loan, he was prepared to purchase one male and one female goat. He would also need to build a dairy house for the female and one for the male. He also shared that goat milk is in high demand so there is a ready market for this.

Next, in August 2016, with a loan of $600, Rush was ready to set up an animal feed store. This loan would go towards a license, hiring, and purchasing a wide variety of animal feeds.

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Most recently, Rush requested his largest loan yet in March 2017 for $1,883. He shares, ‘Drought has been a major cause of hindrance to my livestock activities and, for the past three months, my output yields have slightly declined. For this reason, I am really in need for funds to purchase animal feeds as we are eagerly waiting for the rainy season to come. This will include hay, fodder, feed mash, lick salt and also sources a means of water transport and storage tank. This will cost me $300 for the next two months. I would also like to cultivate a small land for growing hay, maize for animal fodder and nappier grass. I would also like to purchase a chaff cutter for chopping animal feeds into small sizes. It will also cost me an estimate of $250. For the remaining $300, I would like to finish building my house which is already in progress. This will enable me to move from my parents’ home to where I’ll call my home.’

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Rush has continuously expanded and broadened his business since joining Zidisha. He thankfully shares with lenders, ‘My business has grown since joining Zidisha, more so in my poultry farm. Besides home consumption of eggs and selling at local centres, I am now supplying over sixty eggs weekly to various retail shops and hotels in my hometown, Kabarnet. I look forward to increasing my poultry farm and maintaining a thousand hens in my farm. With this, I will create an employment opportunity for other people. I am also looking forward to building my own house and having a family of my own in a few years to come. Thanks to Zidisha for its innovation and to generous lenders for your support.’

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Would you like to empower and support another entrepreneur like Rush? Head on over to our Lend Page to read about our other innovative business owners in Africa.

No Matter What Happens, Life must Go On

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Joseph Saaquah is a 23 year old Ghanan, with a strong work ethic and an optimistic outlook. He is the youngest of three children and has always had to work hard to help his family out financially. Never having met his father, he was raised by a single mother who struggled to support her children. He shares, ‘no matter what happens, life must go on.’

As a result of his persistence and hardworking nature, he finished high school at Gomoa Secondary High Technical School. In his words, ‘Life hasn’t been easy, but I’ve never given up because I’m determined to be educated. Sometimes I have to drop from school, though, to help mum in selling to get money for my fees and my chop money (money for daily provision of food is called “chop money” in Ghana).’

He also found it difficult to find a job after finishing high school, which is how he stumbled into entrepreneurship. His business is as a mini importer which is both a profitable area as well as a business where he has the necessary technical know how. He’s also a continuous student, always learning new skills on the internet, and learning from friends. Right now, he is also running his business entirely from a cyber cafe as he is still raising the funds to purchase his own computer. Eventually, he would love to return to school and further his education.

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Even amidst the challenges, he confidently shares with his lenders, ‘But I challenge myself not to give up because everything is possible in life. And now that I have come across this wonderful family, I can boldly say that my dreams will surely come to reality. I live in a peaceful environment with lovely people.’

Joseph was able to raise his first Zidisha funded loan back in January 2016 for $50. With this starter loan, he purchased an android tablet, which he hoped to resell making a $20 or $25 profit. A few short months later, he was ready to triple his initial loan amount, with a $150 loan to purchase 16GB pen drives.

In July 2016, Joseph raised $292 from Zidisha lenders based on a big problem that he saw in Ghana. He shares, ‘I will be importing a Samsung power bank. The energy sector in Ghana is now very weak. Power shortages are now common. People depend highly on their phones and tablet for business and other purposes therefore having a portable power bank to help keep your device on is very important and helpful. The power bank will cost me $30 per piece and I would also be paying a shipping fee of $50.’

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Most recently, Joseph was able to secure a loan of $409 in February 2017. Ready to try selling a new product, he ventured into mens wrist watches. With this loan, he hoped to increase his profit, which would allow him to save more money towards an education in IT.

In addition, after years of hard work and sacrifice, Joseph’s dreams of continuing his education are finally coming to fruition. In November 2017, he shared, ‘Thanks to my honored lenders for helping change my life for the better. I would be starting my professional diploma in IT as a system administrator next year, all thanks to my lenders. I am very happy and focused because I know you all won’t let me down in my Education. Finally my dream of being IT literate is coming true all thanks to the support you all gave me. Thanks and God bless you all for what you have done for me so far. May God bless you all for the smile you are putting on our faces.’

Do you want to put a smile on the face of another hard working entrepreneur like Joseph? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other inspiring business owners.

Celebrating 2017

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By Julia Kurnia

In 2017, our community made possible a record 64,330 loan projects – almost three times as many as in 2016!

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“No word is enough to describe my joy at finding such an opportunity to get a loan from people all over the world.” – Jean David, Haiti

 

We continued to keep management costs below 5% of the value of the loans funded – so profits accrued to borrowers rather than to administrative overhead.

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“My kids are schooling in a better school and I have also managed to start a small business for my wife.” – Stephen Kiti, Kenya

 

In response to popular request, we built an in-house Forum to better facilitate discussions among members.

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“Formerly we could not afford three square meals, but after joining Zidisha for just 6 months, our life has improved tremendously.” – Bayor Youssif Mashuud, Ghana

 

27% of borrowers joined via our Android app – up from just 2% in 2016.

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“You have made me to put a smile on my sister’s face after a long struggle of no avail for her to go to college.” – Beatrice, Kenya

 

Borrowers and lenders shared 166,364 project updates and messages of encouragement in loan discussions.

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“One year after joining Zidisha, I have a business where I employ four staff.” – Christian Golo, Ghana

 

Our top borrower countries in 2017 were Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana.

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“Zidisha is the best thing that has ever happened to me in the world.” – Boabeng Bright, Ghana

 

1,444 borrowers gave back to the Zidisha community by serving as Volunteer Mentors.

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“l am using part of the profits to further my education in the University now.” – Wise Alormenu, Ghana

 

Our incredible volunteer team responded to 40,910 support tickets!

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“Had it not been for your affordable loans offered to entrepreneurs, I would not have ended up in university.” – Daniel Anarfi, Ghana

 

Our engineering team added 6,609 new features, bug fixes and design improvements to the Zidisha website code.

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“This has been so beautiful… thanks to the Zidisha group you are awesome.” – Joseph Kawiti, Kenya

 

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came together to make this incredible year happen.  It’s a legacy for each of us to celebrate.

Help us make 2018 a life-changing year for even more deserving entrepreneurs.  Check out our latest projects here.

The Side Hustle Life

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mary Nyarko is a native of Agona Duakwa in the Central Region of Ghana. She is in her late twenties and has earned a Bachelor of Education degree in Community Based Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. After graduating, she found herself as a business owner out of necessity as jobs were scarce both in her community and throughout Ghana. In addition to her business, she also works with the Salvation Army Community Rehabilitation Project as a contract staff member in Rehab Personnel.

Back in 2014, she started her business as a trader selling tomatoes and peppers in her local community market. Since then, she has been able to expand her offerings to add: all kinds of vegetables, spices, foodstuffs, and smoked fish.

She currently has a large customer base due to her great interpersonal skills and the relationships that she fosters with her community members. However, her goal is to expand her base to surrounding communities as well.

She shares, “Combining my trading business with the Rehab Personnel job is not an easy task at all but with the assistance from my lovely mum, things are just working out perfectly. In my absence at the market, my mum takes over. Such a lovely mum I have.”

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So far, Mary has secured four Zidisha funded loans. Her first two loans in June and July 2017 were both for $41 and allowed her to increase her working capital. She predicted that this would allow her to increase her profitability by 40% at the end of each month. In the future, she would love for her trading business to be her full-time work over her Rehab Personnel Work, and Zidisha is proving to be a great catalyst to make that happen.

Shortly thereafter, she successfully raised her third Zidisha funded loan in August of 2017 for $84. Based on her experiences she shares, “ Capital injection through Zidisha is so far the easiest, fastest, and free. No collateral is required. As a young lady who is into trading with no physical collateral, acquiring loans from Zidisha will increase my working capital. Stock turnover will be high and will be able to well manage my customers. The loan will eventually be used to purchase more stocks.”

After securing this loan, she excitedly shared on her discussion page, “The loan has really contributed to the success on my business. Thanks to all my noble lenders. God bless you.”

Most recently, Mary secured a $176 loan, her largest yet, in November of 2017. Because the Christmas season is always a big month for sales, Mary wanted to be prepared. With this loan she was able to increase her inventory to meet the high demand that she knew December and January would bring.

On November 17, 2017, Mary shared with her lenders, “We are doing great by the grace of God. My business is gradually growing through capital injection from noble lenders like you. God bless you once again. In fact, acquiring a shop built by the local government is highly political. I’ve tried on several occasion but didn’t succeed. Currently, all the shops have been issued out to their own political party members. But this hasn’t discouraged me at all. I see that as part of life and at the right time, things will be ok. There are other shops which are privately owned by individual entrepreneurs but at a higher price of GH¢2,160.00 per annum. Mostly, these private shop owners only accept a minimum of 5 years advance rent payment (GH¢10,800.00). This is very high. Even more than my current working capital.”

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Even though this may seem discouraging, Mary is still optimistic that things will work out in due time. In addition to her work and business responsibilities, she is also an involved aunt! She shares, “That pretty girl is called Christiana. She is my brother’s daughter and staying with my mum (her grandmother) and I. She is equally my responsibility because I love her and really care. I’m not married. In fact, I’m single and waiting for a responsible man to get married to. Best Regards.”

Were you inspired by Mary’s initiative and example? Head on over to our Lend page to read about other African women who are making small business the norm in their communities!

I Hate Poverty

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I hate poverty, I always dream big and my success is laid in business as a young growing brand,’ shares Patrick Ndirangu. He is a native Kenyan, living with his wife and daughter in the central part of the country. As a child, he attended a village school and then continued to a professional school where he studied Computers, Information Technology, and Business Administration. Because of his education in IT, he chose to start his own Computer Center which has allowed him to provide for himself and his family.

He shares, ‘My Business is a computer advisory center. I provide services such as cyber services, training, typesetting and photocopying, lamination, projects, photography etc. My services are useful to the community since the community get training of computers. I also provide them with computer related services. I choose this kind of the business since it was my dream and passion.’

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Patrick believes that his course of study was a great choice for him as his country needs more entrepreneurs and people who can give back to the community. Currently, his expenses amount to $200 and his revenue is $900 per month.

Patrick discovered Zidisha back in March of 2015 and successfully raised a loan for $99. With this initial loan, he purchased a camera. He knew that this would be a beneficial addition to his business as customers often need photographs. After receiving his new camera, he was able to continue to market and promote his business and services through social media and happy customers.

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A few months later, in August of 2015, Patrick was ready for his next Zidisha funded loan. This time around he requested $171 and he bought a photo printing machine to use in his cyber cafe and information center. The specific model that he wanted was the Epson 1210. This would allow him to provide more services in house rather than spending the time and money to outsource these offerings.

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For his next loan, Patrick raised a loan of $363 in March of 2016. With the funds from this loan he purchased a laptop as well as new software programs for the computer. He also hoped that in addition to his current business and services, the laptop would allow him to take on new freelance work as well.

After purchasing the laptop Patrick shared with lenders, ‘I bought a laptop and now am doing online freelance work and have made a significance in my life since it caters for my expenses and I cannot forfeit to work in remote areas since the laptop is there for me. It was interesting that during the election process I was able to do much training on electoral process with the laptop and I did the assigned task perfectly. In my cyber tech provision business it has made it easy to work when there is no electricity power. During this winter season from the cash from my work I have been able to buy my family and myself warm clothes since its very cold to keep us warm so as to have energy to work. Also, it’s interesting to me that I have been able to chat with my friends online for business purpose.’

Most recently, Patrick requested a loan of $558 in August of 2017. In order to support larger print outs in his shop, he purchased an A3 printer. This would allow him to print calendars, magazines, portraits, and posters.

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On November 29, 2017 Patrick took to his discussion page and excitedly shared with lenders, ‘I thank Zidisha and the entire team for the efforts they make just to make us have hope and to make a smile for the support they offer to us. My business have picked well for the earning I get after buying the photocopier machine, I can handle volumes of work in my work place and that way the payment is promptly and on time and get other extra to feed my family and looking at the future this group will change our lives. Thanks always Zidisha.’

As always, Patrick wants the Zidisha team and his lenders to know how much he appreciates them as he says,’I humbly thank all the 132 lenders who have funded me and entire the Zidisha team for making my dreams come true.’

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If you want to make another borrowers dreams come true, head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories and businesses of entrepreneurs who need your support.