By Julia Kurnia
Paul Kamande is an Electrical Engineering student in Kenya and quite a remarkable person. At age twenty-three, he designed an automated irrigation system adapted to the unique climate of his home village in central Kenya.
Two years into his university career, Mr. Kamande found himself in the circumstance that prevents so many in his country from completing higher education: funding for tuition ran out, and as he was an only child, the livelihood of his parents relied on his earnings.
Mr. Kamande is not the type to give up easily. With $125 in savings, he purchased some spinach, watermelon and potato seeds to plant on his parents’ two-acre farm. The resulting produce when harvested and sold yielded $187 – just enough to acquire a dairy calf, which is one of the most lucrative investments available in rural Kenya. Thanks to earnings from milk sales combined with part-time work, Mr. Kamande managed to support his family while completing his second year of university.
He then discovered Zidisha, and began to leverage Zidisha loans to add a rabbit raising facility to his family farm. Since joining us early last year, Mr. Kamande has become one of our most active volunteers, assisting dozens of others in his community to raise loans and engaging in regular dialogue with lenders via our forum and website.
With his parents taken care of, Mr. Kamande returned his focus to his university studies. Last month, he encountered a more serious setback: the old laptop he had been using for schoolwork and to earn extra money as an online writer broke down. With that source of earning stopped, he was unable to pay his university tuition of $478 – a fortune in a country where most residents earn less than $1000 per year. The university administration warned that he would not be allowed to sit for the upcoming final exams until the bill was paid.
It seemed as though there was no way out. Opportunities to earn such a substantial amount in a short time simply did not exist locally, even for as smart and determined a person as Mr. Kamande. He could not take out another loan from Zidisha, as he had recently invested a currently outstanding loan in his parents’ farm.
Then he hit on an idea: he would launch an crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo to raise the necessary amount. He borrowed a computer to create a campaign page, complete with photos, a video of his project, and an appeal to raise $800 to cover his past due tuition and purchase a new laptop.
Within a few short weeks, the necessary amount was raised: an astounding success, as the majority of crowdfunding appeals fail. How was Mr. Kamande able to raise so much so quickly?
A look at Mr. Kamande’s Zidisha profile page hints at the reason: the comment forum is full of posts by Mr. Kamande consistently providing generous answers to lender questions and requests – interspersed with messages of thanks from the many fellow members in Kenya whose lives Mr. Kamande has changed by connecting them with the chance to raise Zidisha loans. Mr. Kamande has helped so many people in the past that the assistance was there for the taking now, when he most needed it.
“I want to leave a legacy in the world,” wrote Mr. Kamande in his Indiegogo campaign page. “Not just in Africa as a continent that truly with tapped potential of a child, he or she can achieve what many never though he or she could. I am fortunate to have gone to school and pursued engineering in such a reputable school in our country despite coming from a humble background and the promise I made to myself and God is after I complete my education and get a good job, I will also help children who come from less fortunate backgrounds and make their dreams come true just like you are about to make mine come true also.”
Mr. Kamande has already built a great legacy. I look forward to seeing more to come.
You may view Mr. Kamande’s Zidisha profile here: https://www.zidisha.org/microfinance/loan/PaulGitau/3540.html
Mr. Kamande’s Indiegogo campaign page is here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/university-education-aid-to-complete-course
A YouTube video depicting Mr. Kamande’s automated irrigation device is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLsKLFNfJ1k&feature=youtu.be