A Warm Welcoming..

Fatou Tall is a 24 year old medical student living in Dakar, Senegal. She pays for her tuition by selling cosmetic products including cologne, perfume and other bathroom products. She does all this while running a chicken coop from her home. She is quite the go-getter! After graduating she would like to sell medical products. Fatou used her Zidisha loan to buy stock for her business and has already payed 86% of her loan back!

                                                                         Fatou Tall

Read about her recent meeting with our interns below:

“Today myself and Cameron, another intern, met with Fatou and her family. Fatou is showing strong progress on her loan, with almost 80% of it paid off. Yesterday, she took out the last portion of it. She has sold almost all of her merchandise–consisting of jeans and women’s shoes at the moment, although she has also sold cosmetic products, blouses, and perfume.

Because she relies on the word-of-mouth of her friends to sell her products, she has found it difficult to balance her personal and business relationships but has grown a lot since the beginning of her loan and is now making her payments on time. She uses the proceeds from her merchandise to buy more at the central market in Dakar, Marché Sandaga, as well as to help support the seventeen members of her family. Currently, there are 6 other breadwinners in the family, working as vendors, accountants, civil servants, and electricians. However, she still finds it difficult to support her eight younger siblings–all of whom are in school, either secondary or university–as well as her elderly mother, and her baby nephew, Jacques Abdoulaye Tall.

When we walked into the house, we were warmly welcomed by Fatou. Over the course of the afternoon, we met her family, as well as various neighbors , and friends, one of whom, Dominque, is a fellow Zidisha borrower. We found Fatou cheerful and confident in her abilities both as a shrewd bargainer (she inventories in the enormous Marché Sandaga, no mean feat) and retailer. She proudly displayed the meager remains of her inventory, saying that she would have to restock far more quickly than she had anticipated.

Fatou is very motivated to pay off the rest of her Zidisha loan and ask for another one. She plans on using this second loan to continue building her business and supporting her family. Her long-terms plans involve renting a stall in the market next to the École Dior in order to have a home base for her increasingly lucrative and stable business, as well as a possible boutique, inch’Allah.”

A Very Good Day

Recently some of our volunteers and interns had the chance to visit Diop in Dakar, Senegal. Here is what our Zidisha team had to say about their meeting:

Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting Gabriel and his family in their home in Parcelles Assainies, a suburb of Dakar. Gabriel graciously invited us (2 volunteers and 2 interns) into his home where we were introduced to his family. Gabriel’s wife just recently gave birth to their third child, Paul Augustin who is but one month old. They have two other children; Emmanuel who is about 6 and Georgette who is 10. 

It was a particularly opportune visit as it was while we were in Gabriel’s company that he learned that his loan had been met in full! It was extremely exciting to be with him and his family at such a joyous time. What’s more is that his brother Dominique ,another Zidisha borrower, also found out that his loan had been completed as well. Gabriel was so surprised to find out that he had earned 100% because when he had checked his status the night before he was only at 4%!

With his loan, Gabriel is now able to purchase additional merchandise specific to his clientele and will thus be able to increase his capital to support his growing family. In addition to selling alcohol, Gabriel now hopes to be able to sell meat, other deli products.

A BIG thank you to our Zidisha team in Senegal for the update on Diop!

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.

4th March 2012

Zidisha In Country

Want more Zidisha news? Subscribe to the monthly newsletter here. We highlight news like this!:

We are thrilled to announce that Zidisha has been selected as an Echoing Green Semifinalist! Echoing Green is one of the world’s most prestigious social entrepreneurship awards. This year, Echoing Green received a record 3,554 applications for the 2012 Echoing Green Fellowship. Of these initial submissions, only the top 10% were chosen as Semifinalists. We would like to thank our lenders for their support… We wouldn’t have made it without you! Visit the Echoing Green blog and share the good news with friends, family, and fans.
To read more of February’s edition, click here.

"There’s No Business Like Show Business"

Achintya recently met up with Sidney in Kenya:
I recently met Sidney Lugohe Mungasia at his shop in Ongata Rongai near Nairobi recently. Sidney runs the business of typing, scanning and photocopying and a video/music library from his shop.

I have done an MBA. My class of about 50 had people from 20 nationalities. Sidney’s demeanor reminded me of some of the smartest people in my class. He is confident but not overly extrovert. He put me at my ease the moment I met him (and I thought that was part of MY job). He is positive about future and expresses his ideas with a self-assurance that somehow smells of humility and not cockiness.

Sydney lost both his parents in a car accident when he was in school, yet he finished his school and also went to college where he got a diploma in banking and finance. He also wanted to pursue a course in accounting but couldn’t because of financial constraints. After his diploma he worked for Barkley’s for a while but later left because he felt constricted in a 9 to 5 job and wanted to be independent. When I asked him why he chose this particular business he said, “There is no business like show business”. I guess you end up watching many of the movies you sell. But frankly, that didn’t sound dramatic at all coming from him.
Sydney used his Zidisha loan to upgrade his computer (he added three dvd writers, increased the speed and the RAM and bought a UPS). He also upgraded his printer- the new one has a scanner and a photocopier. He also spent on advertising. When I asked him if he could do all this with the amount he borrowed from Zidisha, he told me that he also invested all his savings. He was able to increase his income due to these improvements and is planning to move to a bigger shop soon. With the next loan Sidney wants to expand his business. His future plan is to have a sort of entertainment hub where people could come to meet friends, eat, play video games or watch movies.

Sidney is 28 and when I asked him if he was married, he smiled shyly and said that perhaps next year. As a gesture of my good wishes in this regard I asked him to pose for a photograph with this big poster of Kate Beckinsale outside his shop and he happily obliged.

A few days later, here is what Sidney posted on his page:

Hi lenders,

Its was with great pleasure that I met Zidisha’s ‘Kenya Client Relationship Manager’, Mr. Achintya Rai, at my shop a short time ago. We discussed at length some of the issues that affected my business including its future prospects and opportunities, which I have envisioned to achieve in the forthcoming future.

Rai has already posted most of the issues we talked about, and am happy to say that I have incorporated in my plans, to implement some of the creative ideas that he suggested to me. As he has said, my vision is to expand into an full-size amusement center, which will be more of a social meeting place for the young generation rather than an entertainment store, which is its current business model.

I’ll be glad to meet more of Zidisha’s representatives and lenders so that I can show them how much their support has helped my business. It’s with sincere gratitude that I would like thank you all, who have had faith in me. I look forward for future engagements.

Sidney M. Lugohe