Fresh Air

Our in-country Client Relationship Manager, Achintya, recently meet up with Alex at his shop in Nairobi. Read how Alex’s Zidisha loan helped him to relocate his shop to a better location, and one that is healthier for his asthmatic daughter:

Hello lenders

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

I visited Alex Edward Mwathi at his shop in Mbakasi area of Nairobi on Friday (2nd March). Alex has a general store, which is usually taken care of by his wife Dorcas while he works as a mason and does other odd jobs to supplement his income.

Alex earlier had a second hand garments shop in the open, next to the road. This was a make shift structure made of sheets of polythene and wood. He had to pay rent for this nevertheless and because this was not exactly a very legal setup, he also had to pay petty officials. When it rained (as it did the day I visited him) he had to pack his wares. And to top all this, his little daughter suffers from asthma and being next to the road with all the traffic and dust caused her to hurt.

Alex thus decided to rent this shop, which, with the help of Zidisha loan, he stocked. When I asked him why the shop was called ‘Alexis Mini Shop’ instead of ‘Alex Mini Shop’, he said that Alexis was more “meaningful”. This area is very crowded (and alive if I may add) and his clients all live nearby. He sells items of daily use that he buys from wholesale shops in the area. He also buys grains and sugar in bulk and repacks them in small packets to sell to his customers. He now wants to use the front of the shop to run his second hand clothes business.

Alex’s dream is to have a super market, where he can employ people and which he can run like a manager. He wants his children to study and when I asked him about this he said that he wanted them to go to college, “even university”.

I committed two tiny faux pas that I’m sure Alex wasn’t too happy about. First, I asked him if his two year old daughter was a girl or a boy (my excuse is that she was dressed in a camouflage hooded jacket and I couldn’t see her earrings) and second when I found out that his wife hadn’t changed her sir name after marriage, I showed apparent delight. Alex explained to me that she hadn’t because they hadn’t applied for the govt. certificate yet (and all this while Dorcas was shaking her head). I told her to not change it even when they do apply for the certificate. And I think she is quite determined not to. After this Alex was quite insistent that we go immediately to look at his old shop and his son’s school. No, actually he offered me a soda and I stayed a while talking to him.

Achintya
4th March 2012
Nairobi

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