Story of the week: Elizabeth Kariu, Kenya


Elizabeth is a single mother who is determined to make the most of life.  In an effort to support her small family she moved from Kenya’s mountainous interior to Mombasa, a large port city on the coast.  There she worked at different jobs, serving in traditional female occupations as a school teacher and support person in a bank.

Though her employment at the bank put food on the table, it didn’t satisfy Elizabeth’s desire to dedicating her working life to build something new in the world.  After two years she left the bank to “work for her own mind.”  

With some small savings, she began to retail mobile phone cards and accessories: a promising business as Kenya is one of the world’s most rapidly growing markets for mobile phones.  Little by little she progressed to selling higher-value mobile phone-based payment transfer services, but growth was slow due to lack of substantial capital to expand her inventory.  Local bank loans carried hefty collateral requirements, as well as high interest and fees.


She first heard about Zidisha in April this year, from her friend and current Zidisha member David Ndungu.  At first, she thought David was joking when he said she could use a computer to connect with lenders in other countries.  “I did not believe that it would work,” she said. “But it was so easy. I browsed, dropped in and within a week I received the funds.”

She invested her first loan of $150 in a new stock of high-value mobile phone handsets.  “I witnessed growth in quantity and quality due to the overflow of customers,” she wrote.  She repaid the $150 in four weekly installments, and has just raised a new loan of $448 to expand her mobile phone sales even further.

Elizabeth uses her business earnings to procure the best possible education for her two children, aged 17 and 19.  Both of them are now in college.  With such an inspiring entrepreneur for a mother, who can tell where their own careers will lead?


To view more comments and photos, check out Elizabeth’s loan profile page.

Thanks to Kenya Client Relationship Manager Intern Theresa Schneider for providing the content and photos for this story.

2 thoughts on “Story of the week: Elizabeth Kariu, Kenya

  1. Am really grateful to God for this platform and opportunity for making my life and others shine through ZIDISHA.ORG,You are amazing people,i also take the opportunity to thank every lender who contributed towards my funds be blessed,Thanks for featuring my story,its real and true being single handled is not easy ,taking the role of father & mother.i will keep the LENDERS and ZIDISHA family updated of my activities,Thanks and regards

  2. Celebrating 2015 – Zidisha: P2P Microfinance

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