By Andrew Weber
My name is Andrew Weber and I recently served as a Zidisha Client Relationship Manger in Kenya. There I paid a visit to Catherine at her business in a town on the outskirts of Nairobi.
In a short period of time, Catherine has gone from sleeping on the streets to operating a successful yogurt business out of her home thanks to the support of a Zidisha loan. “Zidisha helped me so much, I had nothing before”, beams Catherine. “I am so happy with Zidisha”.
Catherine is a single mom currently living in a small rented room on the outskirts of Nairobi with her five-year-old son. This room also doubles as a storage unit for her business, distributing yogurt and milk products to shops in the area. The yogurt business has been doing quite well over the last few months and things are looking up for her, but this was not always the case. Rewind one year and Catherine was spending nights sleeping outside because she was unable to afford rent. Without her own business, she had been making ends meet through working as a house cleaner. She was only making about $30 per month at this job and the work opportunities were inconsistent. She was living in a state of constant worry over how she would be able to support her small child.
She decided to try to increase her income through starting a business supplying yogurt and milk to shops in the area. But the initial returns were meager. She wasn’t able to afford a large enough supply to make the business viable. She explored the possibility of a bank microloan but was denied because she did not own her own plot and had few assets. That’s where Zidisha came in.
“If not for Zidisha, I would remain poor”, says Catherine. Once she received her Zidisha loan, Catherine’s life and business began changing for the better. She was able to start buying trays of yogurt packages at discounted bulk rates so she could meet the local demand that she always knew existed. Her home now contains stacks of yogurt and milk packets (no refrigeration required) from the floor to the ceiling. She sells about 30 trays of yogurt per day now, pulling in about $200 per month in profit which enables her to afford rent and school fees. And she is quick to point out that her business is just getting started. With her next Zidisha loan she wants to buy a motorbike so she can deliver her products in a more cost-effective manner. Ultimately, she hopes to open her own shop to sell her goods. Armed with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and direct access to capital now, Catherine seems destined to achieve that goal.
You may view more comments and photos at Catherine’s Zidisha Microfinance profile page.