“I started something however small it is”

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Purity Ndegwa, one of our new members in Nyahururu, Kenya, shared this simple update with us yesterday:

“Hi lenders, i dont know how I can thank you for at this far. indeed let me say i got this cash at the very best time time because i have been given an order to photocopy like 7,000 copies of exams for my neighboring school this will give me like 14,000 Ksh. [about US $175] thats why i have no words to thank you. i would wish i knew Zidisha some times back, but also am so so thankful to you. Because you have helped me create business and expand it.”

However it is her own story that is really remarkable – a tale of growing up cut off from basic educational and employment opportunities, and indomitable grit and determination over the years to obtain training, manage family responsibilities, and finally start, and restart, her own business which will support her children’s education – and she tells this really admirable life story in such a matter-of-fact way.

It is an incredible privilege to be able to help such entrepreneurs achieve their goals for a better life.

By Purity Ndegwa, Zidisha member in Nyahururu, Kenya

My Story

I am a mother of two living in manguo location, nyahururu district Which is a slum within Nyahururu town where I have a rented house . i did my ksce education in 2006 and joined a computer class in 2008, since then I dint manage to join another course because I came from a poor background and they could not manage paying my school fees and feed my young brothers. That is when I decided to acquire a job for my upkeep.

With much regard to my computer tutor who tought me tirelessly and willingly he introduces me to my first employer Anne wambugu who employed me as cyber assistant. Due it was a new business the pay was still small . here I worked till 2011 when my boss Madam Anne vacated to Nyeri town and we had to close over the business. I hereby Thank Madam Anne because she gave me some 2 computers which have build my life to date though they are out dated. In 2011 with the two computers in August I started a college still here within Nyahururu but I could not manage because the same month thats when I got my second born chil, where my business lacked support and management I can remember the town councils harassed me to the fullest because I has not paid the business permit I latter closed down the business and I got employed in another cyber café within the same town here I was stable and I at least maintained some customers where when I vacated to my new place they joined me and made my business grow… ..

For 6 years being employed and having a good flow wherever I go that’s when i decided i can have my own business and serve my customers. it wasn’t easy to start because of lack of capital but lastly I started something however small it is. This business has maintained me to now and I am happy for the lord. All what I need is to expand it so that I can improve my living and give better education to my kids.

About My Business

Internet, unlike a typical cafe, will provide a unique forum for communication and entertainment through the medium of the Internet. Internet is the answer to an increasing demand of our todays living which in now a necessity to everybody it being a farmer, a business person, or anybody else who is living. The public wants access to the methods of communication and volumes of information now available on the Internet, and access at a cost they can afford and in such a way that they aren’t socially, economically, or politically isolated. Internet’s goal is to provide the community with a social, educational, entertaining, atmosphere for worldwide communication.

I work with ict and an instructor and also i offer services. Since I lest school i gained in interest in ict and I did that course which am so much interested even for expanding mu business to a bigger company. I offer services like printing, income tax application, KRA pin certificates, motor vehicle insurance forms which are found in the internet. In printing i make posters, wedding cards, eulogy, invitation cards , certificates, receipts etc. I also offer computer classes. The risk of this is the electricity shortage, there is always electricity interruption within the country which also contributes to destroying computers and printers. I make a minimum of ksh 500 [about US $6] per day an a maximum of 700 [about US $8] per day where if i can improve my business i will earn more and get more profit. With this I would like to expand and buy other like 9 computers, photocopier, fax, CP infuture to make it more demanding and a solution to all computer problems. Also I would like to have a computer shop where you can get all the computer accessories

The objectives of my business is The creation of a unique, upscale, innovative environment that will differentiate internet from local coffee house, Educating the community on what the Internet has to offer, formation of an environment that will bring people with diverse interests and backgrounds together in a common forum, Affordable access to the resources of the Internet and other online services.

As the popularity of the Internet continues to grow at an exponential rate, easy and affordable access is quickly becoming a necessity of life. Internet provides communities with the ability to access the Internet and share Internet experiences in a comfortable environment. People of all ages and backgrounds will come to enjoy the unique, upscale, educational, and innovative environment that internet provides.

The risks are which I encounter are like Will there be a demand for the services I offer ? ,Will the popularity of the Internet continue to grow? , Will individuals be willing to pay for the service I offers? Also there is an issue of electricity shortage in our county hence on and off of electricity which fails many of us in business with this regard I future I would like to have a generator or a solar to make my business more stable. I love the business.

Purity Ndegwa received a first loan of $100 on July 17, 2013.  You may read more at her Zidisha Microfinance Loan Profile Page.

“I see hope for a brighter future”

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– Posted by Martin Gitonga in Nairobi, Kenya

“Hallo Hallo,
I hope you have all been gooood. For me i am fine though i have been busy expanding the rabbit shelter. I am happy to say that I am done building the rabbit shelter with the help of my friend John. It so cold here and rainy so that’s why it took long to complete the structure.
Thank you to Zidisha loan now i see hope for a brighter future.
Have a great night you all.”

Mr. Gitonga received a loan of $100 for a rabbit-raising enterprise on June 14, 2013.  Check out his Zidisha Microfinance Profile page to learn more about his business.

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“Life will never be the same”

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By Julia Kurnia, director Zidisha

Mr. Chege’s computer school and cybercafe business is located at the edge of Nairobi’s Mukuru slum, a place notorious for its hideous poverty.  Open sewers line the mud streets and residents cover them as best they can with pieces of wood.  Police and criminals alike extort bribes.  Parents unable to compile sufficient cash for school fees have cobbled together dozens of makeshift academies, where bright-eyed pupils crammed into sheet-metal classrooms sit on dirt floors and recite the alphabet.  The ambition for a better future is palpable here.

Mr. Chege is someone who sees possibilities before they become reality.  In 2009, convinced that information technology is the key to the future, he left a secure job as an accountant with Wells Fargo to launch a cybercafe business.  He could not get financing because the banks that provide business loans require savings of over a thousand dollars as a security deposit.  With a starting capital of $250 in personal savings, he purchased a single computer, and he and his family proceeded to live hand to mouth until the business grew to the point of breaking even six months later.  In response to customer demand, he began to provide computer training in addition to browsing and printing services.

Computer training is now the bedrock of Mr. Chege’s business.  His customers and students are the youth of the neighborhood, many of whom are employed as day laborers, handling cargo at the nearby airport.  With knowledge of computers, they can qualify for better jobs, such as export agents for international shipping companies, and administrative staff for stores and service companies.  Mr. Chege estimates that while day laborers earn on average $2.50 for a full day’s work or about $50 per month assuming work is available every day, the same individuals who work as export agents or administrative staff earn $200 to $300 per month.  And the youth aspire to more than a step up in income, Mr. Chege explains.  Working at a job that requires specialized knowledge makes one a “professional” – someone who earns a living from one’s unique qualifications, which grow and advance throughout one’s career.

Mr. Chege offers certified courses in subjects ranging from introductory internet, typing and Microsoft applications to web design and database management.  He makes the already-low tuition cost even more affordable by accepting payment in installments.  Many of his students take advantage of the opportunity, coming in to study for several hours each night after a full day of manual labor.

Before joining Zidisha, Mr. Chege only had enough computers to accommodate three students at once, which allowed him to enroll no more than six students at a time.  He used his first Zidisha loan to purchase more computers, with the result that today, he has 18 to 25 students enrolled at any given time.  He used his second loan to purchase more computers and also a photo-quality printer, which has already paid for itself in revenue from neighborhood residents who need passport-sized photos for job applications and government documents.

Today, the biggest bottleneck to growth is lack of space.  Vision Computer Training and Cybercafe is housed in a rented room not much larger than an American closet.  Mr. Chege aims to move to a larger location before the end of the year.  This will allow him to satisfy the strong demand by adding more computers, and employing more teachers so that multiple classes may be taught simultaneously.

We look out across the thousands of sheet-metal roofs of Mr. Chege’s community.  A beautiful sound pierces through air choked with dust and stench, as dozens of people raise their voices in song at an impromptu revival gathering somewhere in the maze of streets.  “Most of them have been shut off because of inability to pay,” Mr. Chege says with conviction.  “We are demystifying computers.  They are not only for rich people.  With computers, one is able to communicate, to Google and browse to get information… Life will never be the same.”

You may read more about Mr. Chege in his Zidisha Microfinance profile page.

Meet Anisa Lastiani, our newest member in Indonesia!

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Ms. Lastiani is currently raising $97 to grow her online bookstore business.  Here is her story, as posted by Ms Lastiani on her Zidisha Microfinance profile page:

My name is Anisa Lastiani. I am 6th child of 6 siblings. This time I was alone with my mother because my father had died and my brothers are living apart. I am still listed as a final year student of Accounting at one state university in the city of Bandung, Indonesia.

While preparing for the end of the [university] session, I had a business buying and selling books online and also worked as a private teacher for elementary school children. I want to develop my business book store
that not only sells online, but also has the original bookstore can be a major source of income, because this time I was the breadwinner of the family.

I have a business online bookstores. I am currently on its website in order to make the system more presentable and professional selling. The name is www.bubudiskon.com website. bubudiskon is the abbreviation of discount books.

The website will be launching soon at the end of June 2013. During the time of making the web, I am selling utilizing social networking sites and media makers free advertising on the internet. This business has been running since my first year of college. However I have focused in the past year.

Business selling books is a business that no death. Because even though more and more e-book, is a book everyone needs, be it for education or entertainment. Advantage of this business venture is managed online, so that can be reached by everyone and can be shipped to all parts of Indonesia, especially using a delivery company, such as JNE or Pos Indonesia. Bubudiskon also provide ongoing discounts on every item of his books so that in addition to getting the ease of shopping, the buyer also gets discounted purchases so as to save time and money in shopping.

I was a reseller of several books in the city of Bandung supplier . Thus, the capital cost can be controlled. Gross sales of approximately a month and profit 5 million / month [about US $500] I can be around 20-30%. So I can at least gain about 1-1.5 million [US $100 to $150] / month. This business is still small, but I’m sure if you already have the original store and online stores better system (website), my income will be much greater.

“Transformed to a greater height”

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By Traci Yoshiyama, Kenya Client Relationship Manager

At the young age of thirty, Lawrence Njunge has already lived a lifetime of experiences. Despite the many events that caused him to take a step backward, his tenacity for a purpose driven life continues to pave his way forward. Lawrence currently runs East African College of Technology in Ruai, a densely populated town approximately thirty kilometers from Nairobi. Although he began this school a short three years ago, the birth of his dream started long before. 

Being the first born of his family, Lawrence began taking care of his siblings when he was in first grade. While his mother traveled to buy and sell mitumba (used clothes), Lawrence watched over his younger brothers and sisters. He smiles as he reminisces about being teased by the community because he was often seen carrying them on his back. With a family of eleven children, expenses ran high and cost for education was difficult to come by. It is because of this constant struggle that Lawrence decided to build a career dedicated to education. Due to the lack in starting capital, he began his venture by opening a daycare. When Lawrence accrued enough savings he started his first school, but due to unjust treatment by authorities, Lawrence moved to Mombasa where he bought a motorbike and earned a living as a boda boda driver. When he moved back to Nairobi, he unfortunately lost everything due to the post-election violence. Finding employment at Kenya Medical Training College, he was transferred back to the coast. At this time he decided to try his hand once more at opening his school. Unfortunately, his employer wanted to relocate him and East African College of Technology was put on hold again. Lawrence quit his job and in order to earn a living, he started training as a marathon runner. While he was successful, his days as a runner were short-lived when he injured his leg in a motorbike accident. Lawrence then went back to teaching. Seeing and experiencing challenges within the workplace, he took this as a perfect opportunity to revive EACT. Three years in the making, Lawrence is now tirelessly working to prove the quality of his school to the community and students countrywide. 

EACT is currently undergoing renovations, as Lawrence recently moved the school to a bigger building. Wanting to make his classrooms a nurturing environment for his students, Lawrence used his Zidisha loan to pay for comfortable rolling chairs. With the help of his loan and his other family business (a general shop), he was also able to purchase more tables and computer monitors. Being a first-time Zidisha borrower, Lawrence would like to see his future loans going towards opening a cyber café run by his students, providing employment for them while and after they graduate from EACT. In addition to running the school, Lawrence also provides affordable housing for his students. His students graciously show me their current hostel and are happily awaiting the day they can move into their new dorm, conveniently situated in the same building as the school. Lawrence would also like to concentrate more of his efforts on marketing in various towns in Kenya and East Africa. If he is able to employ more teachers (there is only one more teacher) this will allow him to do just that. 

My visit with Lawrence was filled with many more stories, so much that my pen could not keep up with his accounts. And with every memory shared, it became clear that this is a man that stares adversity in the face, smiles, and walks on by, only growing stronger in the process. Thank you Lawrence for a wonderful day. Please greet your students for me and thank them for the nice tour. I look forward to seeing the growth of EACT and wish you the best in all your future plans! 

To view more pictures of my visit with Lawrence, his classrooms, and students, please visit http://www.talkingstorykenya.wordpress.com.

Last month, Mr. Njunge posted this update:

“Thanks all lenders because this loan has done marvellous on our instituion’s development, we have relocated to a new building, integrated the hostel in the same building, advertised and created four more job vacancies; two tutors, marketer and a security officer.

The East African College of Technology has indeed transformed to a greater height, why didn’t someone tell me this earlier before? i suffered from ulcers trying anything I could to have a successful reshaping but to no avail. When Tracy came we had only managed to shift into one self-contained but without further ado, students started flocking and now we need more computers, more beds, more lecture seats, more space and wow! more marketing. The list is endless.
Borrowers please! be good manager of these funds and believe it or not! You will make merry! Now am proud, not because of myself but God and Zidisha for Zidisharing my Business and making its name recognised by the endless developments.

Thank you Zidisha!!! “