By Taylor Hanna, Ghana Ambassador Volunteer
Last week, a torrential rainstorm in Accra let up just enough for me to make it to the city center, where I met Monica Asiamah. Monica sells mobile phone recharge cards out of a small booth, just big enough to sit two people comfortably. Although the wooden structure is dark, it is brightened by Monica’s big smile, colorful dress, and the bejeweled butterfly clips in her hair.
Located in the heart of the city and right across from the main post office, Monica’s shop sees a lot of traffic. She sells single cards to individuals, but many of her customers are regulars and come for big orders of various cards to resell on the roadside or in shops.
I was actually referred to Monica by Vincent, a student at the University of Ghana whom I had met earlier that week. Vincent was one of Monica’s regular customers but was disappointed one day when she didn’t have the cards in stock that he needed. She explained that since she lacked her own working capital fund, she was forced to buy the cards on credit, and she didn’t yet have the capital to pay back her last purchase and restock. He had recently used a Zidisha loan to pay his academic fees, and introduced her to the website.
Since getting started with Zidisha, Monica’s business has transformed. With her first loan, she bought an expanded inventory of cards upfront. Her second loan provided the capital for a big inventory purchase just before Christmas, to take advantage of a predictable surge in demand.
With the boost she earned from that season, she no longer buys cards on credit. This has increased her profit margin in two ways: she no longer needs to pay her supplier for the credit, and she no longer loses sales due to stock outages. She is now able to keep her inventory well stocked, and that reliability has attracted a lot of new regulars.
But it’s not just her business that benefits from her loans. Monica is a mother to her twelve-year-old daughter, Caribel, and lives with and cares for her youngest sister, Alice. And with her increased income, Monica has been able to pay for Alice to fulfill her dreams and attend nursing school.
I know Monica is incredibly grateful for the help she has received from Zidisha and her lenders, and hopes to continue to grow her business and support her family. And Monica – thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. It was a delight!