Trucks, Crates, & Cows

Here are three more updates from Achintya, our intern in Kenya:

Abraham Mwangi
I visited Abraham Mwangi at his shop in Kiptangwanyi on Thursday (2nd Feb, 2012). Abraham was the first person in Kiptangwanyi to receive a Zidisha loan and he claims that all the other Zidisha borrowers in this area came though his reference (“all” may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure most lenders there came either through his reference or as a result 

of his good experience with Zidisha).

Abraham runs a shop where he sells petrol, diesel, kerosene and motor spare parts. He also owns a (bright green) pickup truck, which he uses to transport oil from Nakuru and also rents to other people. Abraham is also an “expert mechanic” (though he doesn’t service vehicles other than his own any more) and a trained truck driver. He used his loan to add to his stock. He says the loan was really helpful because the fuel prices increased faster than he anticipated. Apart from having a spare parts shop, a fuel supply business and a transport business, Abraham also has a cereal shop, where he stores maze and beans and sells at the times of demand. This shop was closed in this season though. He wants to use the next loan to buy a cow, which costs around 60,000 Kenyan shillings and gives 20 liters of milk per day. Abraham told me that there is a company called Brookside that buys milk in bulk. 

Abraham has 2 boys and one girl. Even though he himself has studied only till form two, he wants his kids to study further and perhaps go to college.
I took many pictures of Abraham and his pickup truck, after which he had some really nice things to say about Zidisha.

To read more, check out Abraham’s profile page here 

Jackline Muthoni Waithaka
I went and met Jackline Muthoni Waithaka at her business premise on this Thursday (2nd Feb 2012). She has a small shop from where she sells packaged bread. She used the Zidisha loan to increase her stock (she offloaded around 860 packets of bread in front of me. When I asked her how long it’d take her to sell all these, she said “just one day”).

Jackline now wants to buy a motorbike so that she can supply to nearby areas. Right now she uses a bicycle to supply, but this limits her reach.

We reached Jackline’s place right before her supply truck arrived. It was impressive to see her offloading crates after crates of bread. Right now she is the only one supplying bread in the area so she has a comfy little monopoly going on. A bike would perhaps increase her sales manifolds. Apart from selling bread, she also supplies water to people’s home. She collects the water from public bore-wells and supplies it to people’s home for a small fee. Jackline has two little children, both in primary school.

My one regret after meeting Jackline was that in my pursuit for getting a picture of her working, I did not help her in offloading the crates. I should have. In fact I would have, had I not had the blessed camera in my hands.

To read more about this entrepreneur, see her page here 

Jane Wambui
I visited Jane Wambui at her premises to see her at work and to talk to her. I found her at her shop where she sells vegetables and fruits that she grows mostly on her own Shamba (farm). She was dressed in smart slacks and a white t-shirt and greeted me with a firm handshake (this I found to be true for all women here- their hand-shakes are always full-bodied and firm- showing confidence and also warmth).

Jane appears to be quite enterprising. She, like most Kenyans, has a very strong desire to improve her lot and works really hard to make sure she and her family have the best that is possible.
She used the Zidisha loan and some of her own money to buy a good breed of cow. The cow cost her around 60,000 shillings (her loan was for 45,000 shillings), but gives around 20 liters of milk per day (at peak capacity), which translates to a revenue of around 15,000 shillings from the cow. She spends 5,000 on the cow and the remaining 10,000 shillings are her profit.

She has sent her two sons to boarding schools because she feels the quality of education is much better there. She told me that she paid the fee of 51,000 shillings for one of her sons and 28,000 shillings for the other. This appears quite steep to me, but she wants to make sure her children get the best education and will not compromise on this. She told me she wants one of the sons to be a lawyer and the other to be a doctor. I couldn’t help feeling admiration for her.

With her next loan she wants to buy an even better cow. This would cost around 120,000 Kenyan Shillings but would give 40-50 liters of milk per day. When I said bye to her, she offered me a banana, which was very nice and sweet of her.

To read more about this produce seller, check out her page here 

Carving Dreams

Stephen Maina is a Zidisha borrower from Kenya. He is a local carpenter who makes tables, stools, cupboards, beds, and more. One of our interns recently met up with him to see how his work is going:
On Thursday (2nd Feb 2012) I paid a visit to Stephen Maina in the little center called Kiptangwanyi around two hours’ walk away from the village I am staying at.

Stephen is a carpenter and he used his Zidisha loan to buy a lathe machine. He used to work earlier with a simple cutting machine, with which he could cut wood but couldn’t really give it any shape. With the lathe machine he is now able to make beds, tables, chair, doors and other wooden items on order.

His plan earlier was to invest some of the loan money to buy a carving machine, but he used it to buy materials instead. This proved wise because he has been receiving orders and keeping busy even without having the carving machine and will be able to pay back his loan easily. He will use his next Zidisha loan to buy a carving machine.

Stephen has 5 children. After his loan was disbursed, he found that the price of the machine he was planning to buy had gone down, so he used the remaining money to pay his children’s fees. His oldest son is in university, where he studies “computers or something to do with ICT” (He said ICT with such absolute certainty that I did not have the heart to ask him what it was). This son had studied in a public school and his performance was very good so Stephen has admitted another son into the same public school. He wants to educate his children and uses the extra income that the cheap Zidisha loan has made possible for him to fulfill this dream of his.

After meeting Stephen, my friend Paul and I went to a small shop to have some soda. It is quite hot here and I, unlike the locals, need to constantly replenish the water in my body. Stephen joined us and brought bread. He left early and when I got up to pay, I was told that he had paid for us. People here are so warm and generous. I went back to Stephen’s shop to pay him but he absolutely refused. So I accepted his hospitality with as much good grace as I could and thanked him.

I wish him well and hope all his children go to the university and do well for themselves.

4th Feb 2012
Mugaa Village, Kenya

To read more about Stephen, click here 

From the Click of a Mouse to Three Greenhouses

Two years ago, we opened our lending platform to the public. Currently, Zidisha lenders have raised $140,599 in microloans for 253 businesses in Africa and Asia. So many great comments are being posted on each day from borrowers, lenders, interns and volunteers. We have created this blog to easily share these great stories with the public as well as share Zidisha news, updates, and more. 

Rahab Wanjira was one of Zidisha’s first borrowers in Kenya. With the help of her loan, her and her husband have constructed three greenhouses. Our Client Relationship Manager, Achintya, recently met with them:Hello lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’s new Kenya Client Relationship Manager.

This Sunday (5th Feb 2012), I went to the village of Kianjoya to visit Rahab Wanjira. Rahab’s husband James Ngure is a teacher in Mugaa Secondary School, where I am putting up. When I visited their home I met James in his work clothes, tending to his farm. He was the one who explained the business and its functioning to me.

If I were to use one word to describe James, I’d call him no less than a ‘visionary’. There are certain people who have that spark that employment advertisements profess to look for. I feel very strongly that James has that spark of brilliance. The things he is doing with the resources he has at this remote location are remarkable.

James has been working in the school for around 8 years. 4 years ago he decided to settle near here and bought this piece of land in Kianjoya. He did not know what else to do with the land so he and Rahab farmed it like everyone else to grow crops typical to here. Rahab also bought a shop in Mitimingi, which she used to take care of. They took their first Zidisha loan to stock this shop.

A year ago, James and Rahab attended a seminar in Naivasha. That is where they got the idea of constructing a green house and using drip farming to irrigate the crops. A green house kit being sold at the seminar cost around 210,000 Kenyan Shillings. James investigated further after returning and was able to construct his first green house (15m x 8m) in around 50,000 shillings. They sold their shop in Mitimingi to arrange for this money.  

The returns from the first green house were so tremendous (James claims that a tomato crop inside the green house gives FIFTY TIMES more returns than a tomato crop the same size outside the green house) that they have now decided to gradually bring their whole farm under a green house. They used their second Zidisha loan to increase the acreage under greenhouse and to buy a drip irrigation kit. Now they have three green houses, all using drip irrigation and all made from local materials (polythene/plastic sheeting and local wood logs).

James has dug two tanks in the farm to collect rainwater. He directs water flowing on the road into his farm to collect it into these tanks, which he uses to drip-irrigate his crops for the whole year.

His future plans include lining his tanks with ‘dam liner’, which is a plastic sheet that prevents water from being absorbed by the soil.

When one is in the presence of wisdom, one tends to test his own (perhaps not everyone, just men)- so I asked him that why didn’t he try keeping fish in his tanks to supplement his income. He nodded solemnly and said it was a good idea (I am sure he was smiling in his heart, but is too big a man to smile on my face). 

I also met Rahab and James’ little daughter Gladys, who didn’t smile at me till the very end, when I pulled her cheeks.


Mugaa Village, Kenya

7th Feb 2012

Read more of her story here