An Ambassador of Good Health

Beatrice profile pic

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

“My happiness is earned from seeing a healthy community and my biggest wish is to achieve a whole healthy community.” Beatrice Monyoncho is a hard working woman who was born in Kisii town and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. After completing her primary and secondary studies she advanced to medical school where she successfully graduated from the pharmacy program. As a graduate, she was then able to secure a small loan from both family and friends to start a pharmacy in Embakasi. Today she is able to operate the pharmacy herself with the assistance of a qualified nurse.

In addition to her work as a pharmacist, Beatrice has an abundant family life as a wife and the mother of two adoring children. It is evident that between her work and family she has a busy and active life. However, when she does have some downtime she loves listening to music, watching football, and swimming.

To provide an overview of her business Beatrice says, “I basically offer laboratory services and also sell over-the-counter medicine, which include painkillers among other medicines. If a client or customer comes to my chemist with a verified prescription from the doctor, I get to serve them and give them the right medication as per the prescription.”

She notes that she chose to start this business because of her passion for helping and treating people. She thinks of herself as an ‘ambassador of good health.’ Furthermore, she’s found that she has a ready market because diseases are everywhere and people are always in need of medicine and health assistance. She has also found that it’s a good source of income which is invaluable for herself and in helping to support her family. With her profits Beatrice is able to pay her bills and fees.

Beatrice first discovered Zidisha over two years ago in January 2015. She began with a minimal loan of $100 to add stock to her current inventory in her pharmacy shop. She predicted that this small loan would result in an increase of 10% in profits. More importantly, she was empowered and excited by the potential that her small Zidisha loan would have in improving the lives of her family and surrounding community.

Beatrice 1

As word began to spread about her business, Beatrice found that it was once again time to increase her inventory with a second Zidisha funded loan. For this second loan in March of 2015 she asked for $195. Soon after, in June 2015, she was ready to increase her stock a third time with a Zidisha loan of $374. As her business has continued to grow, community members now know that they can rely on Beatrice and her business as a consistent source of medicine.

Similar to her first few loans, Beatrice sought out Zidisha lenders for two more loans in November 2015 and May 2016 to increase her inventory and stock for her business. In November, Beatrice thanked the Zidisha community for their help in improving the health of her own community when she mentioned, ‘I am always happy when I can have a healthy community.”

Then in May 2016, Beatrice reported on the impact that her Zidisha loans have made when she said on her discussion page, ‘my last loan improved my living standards marvelously, I am so thankful to lenders for making this happen.I am happy to serve the community by supplying them with medicine.” Shortly thereafter, in June 2016 Beatrice reported that she would soon be adding laboratory equipment for diagnostic tests, a blood pressure machine, and other minor laboratory kits. This will allow her to be certain of which drugs should be given against the exact diagnostic diseases.

In September 2016 Beatrice was able to fund her largest loan yet of $1250 and in doing so was able to expand the physical presence of her business by purchasing equipment and renting an extra room for consultations. Her loans have indeed paid off in more ways than one. For one, she has increased her earnings by over 10%. In a less tangible sense, she has also been rewarded with a community of happy customers.

Beatrice 2

You can feel the excitement and energy in Beatrice’s words on September 25, 2016 as she updates lenders, ‘Hi lenders, am very much happy to inform you that with your big support, I have managed to expand my business in terms of renting another room used for consultation. I wish you could plan and make a visit to Kenya and see the fruits of your wholehearted support in my business. Anyway let our good living God grant you with good health and bless your pockets to continue to support the needy.”

Most recently, in April 2017 Beatrice thanked her lenders and mentioned, ‘your big support has changed the community.’ Beatrice clearly has a gift and passion for improving the health of her entire community. She sees her business as a way to provide better health services to the community as well as mitigating diseases and by doing so, increasing the life expectancy of citizens. For Beatrice, her success as a business owner is not just measured in profit but also in community health and flourishing.

If you would like to make a difference in a community like Beatrice’s head on over to our loans page to contribute to another project.

Thinking Outside the Box

Rachel profile

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

“My dad encouraged me to think outside the box and start farming,” says Rachel Wanjiru Njuguna. As a wife, mother, recipient of a Marketing Management diploma and a current Accounts Clerk, Rachel is now able to add farmer and entrepreneur to her list of titles and accomplishments. Growing up with 4 siblings and the daughter of a farmer, Rachel was always impressed that her father was able to educate all 5 of his children through his farming business. Now, as an adult, her father has become an incredible mentor to her as she follows in his footsteps.

However, the path was not always easy. In 2011, she gave birth to her son and decided to stay at home with him. This was a difficult decision because her husband’s income was quite small. She says, “I started saving from the money he left me for daily use. I joined women’s groups and this has really helped me to save and support my family. From this experience, I have become very passionate about women’s empowerment and I really encourage the women I interact with to save and work hard. I hope one day to have an organization that supports women.”

Through her hard work and consistent savings, Rachel began her potato farming venture with a single acre. Then, the next year she was able to add another acre. She chose this particular venture for two reasons. Firstly, because of her experience growing up on a farm she has seen how farming can change lives and can be very profitable when done correctly. In addition, potatoes are a crop that are always in demand in Kenya. To begin, the typical costs involved: seeds, fertilizer, labor, and pesticides. She also chose to start this business to be able to educate her son, provide good medical care for her family, reinvest, and use part of the profits for household expenses. Eventually, she hopes to farm more than 50 acres.

Rachel farm 3

For her first Zidisha loan, Rachel began with a modest amount of $50 in January 2015 for her basic startup costs. After successfully repaying her first loan, she funded her second loan of $121 in April 2015 to buy fertilizer to top dress the potatoes. She knew that this would require 3 bags of DAP for $28 and 3 bags of UREA for $26. After her second loan, Rachel knew that she was ready to expand her acreage. Therefore, she used her third loan in August 2015 to acquire 3 more acres of land at $80 an acre for a $240 investment. As she grew her acreage she was even able to hire 5 additional workers by October to help with her farming.

Rachel farm 2

Then, in January 2016, she applied for her fourth loan of $365 to continue fertilizing and top dressing her crops. To start the new year, Rachel reported to lenders the following update, “I would like to thank the Zidisha family. You have really changed my life. 2015 was a good year for me because of your support. You should know that you are a blessing to many and you have improved so many lives. My financial status has improved and I am able to assist my husband in taking care of the bills. I have also been able to start a business supplying charcoal to a few hotels in my area and also selling to the people who use them at home in small quantities. With the charcoal business I was able to employ one person who helps me in running it as I attend to my 8 to 5 job. Thanks a lot for your support.”

Rachel farm 4

Throughout her farming journey, Rachel has been able to seek wise counsel from her father with his 30 years of experience in the farming industry. She notes that, “with his help I have been able to improve a lot and get knowledge about farming.” By May 2016, Rachel found that she was ready to expand to include other crops such as, peas. With her growing expertise, she was able to fund her fifth Zidisha loan of $554 to buy seeds and fertilizer for her new crops. Then, she funded for sixth loan of $815 in October 2016 to lease farm land and to continue purchasing fertilizer and pesticides for her business. To show what a difference this has made Rachel mentioned, ‘the loan I have just completed has really helped me invest more. I have been able to take an education policy for my son. That means my son will be able to get a good education and medical care. I have also been able to start saving for a plot and that means I will be able to build a home for my family.”

Rachel with her son

2017 continues to be an impressive year for Rachel. On March 29 she shared on her discussion page, “when I started with Zidisha I was doing potato farming. At the moment I have managed to start two more businesses which help me with my day to day expenses. This year my son is in a new class and as the school fees goes up I am able to pay without any difficulty.”

Most recently, on April 7, Rachel updated lenders with the news that she will next be expanding to cabbage farming. She mentioned, “the money I get from this harvest will help me greatly in achieving financial freedom in so many areas. Thank you lenders for trusting me with your money. A special thank you to the lenders who have funded me from my first loan. May God bless you all.”

Rachel Farm

If you would like to change the life of another family like Rachel’s, head on over to our loans page to contribute to another project.

Creating a Beautiful Life With Beauty Products

Ruth profile picture

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ruth James was raised in a family of farmers in Meru county, Kenya. As the fifth of six children she is proud that her parents were able to educate their children through farming. Her high marks in school led her to finish high school and then university where she pursued a degree in Information Technology. Even with a wealth of knowledge and a prestigious degree in hand, Ruth found finding a job to be extremely difficult. When the job search proved futile, she decided to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. After committing to the path of entrepreneurship she chose her niche selling health and beauty products. According to Ruth, “I chose this business because it requires a small capital investment and minimum overhead.”

One of the marks of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to pivot quickly and make changes when needed and Ruth has exemplified this in her business. In her almost 2 years with Zidisha, Ruth has funded and repaid 4 loans and is now successful working to repay her fifth.

Initially, when she first discovered Zidisha she set out to use her first $150 loan in August 2015 to purchase inventory and and to train new employees. Furthermore, she smartly realized that utilizing the internet could serve as a positive step for her business. By building and hosting her own website she would be opening up her customer base and would also be allowing her customers to purchase her items at their own convenience. With her second loan of $149 funded in February 2016, Ruth was able to purchase a variety of new products. More specifically, her inventory included: tooth gel, deodorants, perfumes, essential oils, skin care products, detox kits, vitamins and minerals.

By April of 2016, Ruth realized that she needed to prioritize the marketing and advertising side of her business. Therefore, she turned to Zidisha lenders to fund her third loan of $170. For this loan, Ruth was really transparent with lenders showing the exact breakdown of how she intended to spend her loan. Her purpose was to boost her online sales through purchasing a website design, hosting her own website, email marketing, blogging, and advertising. This loan breakdown came down to, $75 for designing and hosting her website, $20 for email marketing, $20 for blogging, $15 towards research, $10 to pay for ads, and 40 for a seller’s license. She chose to purchase the license in order to have her shop online with a popular E-commerce site.

The following loan of $360 in July 2016 was used to expand her growing business with inventory for both the local and international sides of her business. Additionally, she used a portion of this loan to pay for her website hosting for the year and to implement some paid ads.

Ruth's family

A few short months later, in September, Ruth kindly mentioned on her discussion board, “I am very grateful to my lenders because the loan has helped my business reach another level of profits because I have stock to sell and clients are happy.” A few weeks later she was able to report more great news, “Hi lenders. I am so far doing well in my business and I am so grateful to you all. I have managed to have my products online and I can deliver whatever my customers order on time. This month my sales have gone up by 40%. This has been triggered by the availability of products. Once again thank you very much and God bless you all. Long live Zidisha.”

With a budding local and international presence, Ruth continued to dream big with her plans for the future. For her, this meant plans to open a physical location for her store. Once again, Zidisha lenders were happy to accommodate and help fulfill this next dream with a funded loan of $539 in October 2016. She knew that opening her location would include some ongoing costs including: $300 for rent and a deposit every other month and advertising which she estimated at about $300 for the year. After opening the store and continuing with her advertising plan, Ruth estimated that she would be making a profit of $600 to $1000 each month.

To touch on how these financial changes have truly impacted Ruth and her family she noted, “this will uplift my living standard in that I will be able to give my four young children a better education and with time I can buy a piece of land where I will build a family house.I thank you very much my dear lenders and I will never let you down.” In March of 2017 she provided another update and mentioned, “I am very grateful to you all for the loan that I just finished paying. With the online advertisements, my sales doubled and I was able to make profits up to $600 per month. My children are well settled in school and all school fees are paid.I have been able to buy them revision books and give them the basics and also take them out for some fun.”

Ruth is now using her current loan of $899 in March 2017 to increase her inventory and purchase a secondhand laptop. The new laptop will certainly aid her in her blogging and advertising efforts. She is excited that she has been able to establish a network, her business is doing well, and she wants to thank the Zidisha lenders for their continuous support. Through the combined efforts of Ruth and Zidisha lenders, she has been able to build a beautiful life for both herself and her children.

If you would like to support and empower another entrepreneur, head on over to our Loans page to help another business and community thrive.

Cooking Up Success

Geoffrey

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Geoffrey Wasike has been identifying problems and overcoming adversity for as long as he can remember. He is the fifth child in a family of six and when he was two years old his father passed away leaving his mother to raise all six children on her own. Even as a student, he seemed to have a knack for business and chose to study accounting in college.

Sadly, soon after successfully completing part one of the CPA exam, he experienced the loss of his mother. Understandably, the ensuing period was a difficult one and he found himself unable to continue with his studies. Utilizing his business education and passion for cooking which he had carried with him since childhood, Geoffrey decided to start a hotel business with outside catering services. However, he soon discovered that his business was lacking some necessary cooking equipment and he found that he did not have the capital to make these important purchases.

Fortunately, he discovered Zidisha. Since April of 2015, he has worked with Zidisha lenders to borrow and repay four loans in a timely manner and he is now repaying his fifth loan. In April of 2015, Geoffrey used his first Zidisha loan of $50 to purchase new equipment for his hotel and restaurant business. Shortly thereafter, in June and August he used his second and third loans from Zidisha of $94 and $171 to purchase new Sufurias, which are large, deep pots. He previously had to rent pots and equipment for his catering work and he knew that owning his own equipment would increase both his efficiency and profits.

Geoffrey New Staff

Then, in November 2015 Geoffrey was able to use his fourth Zidisha loan of $342 to correct a significant source of losses in profit, by purchasing a refrigerator. Because he did not have a source of refrigeration, he was often forced to throw away food. Once again, he quickly realized that the long-term benefits in both time savings, and increased profits and growth would make a refrigerator a wise investment. This in fact proved to be true as Geoffrey mentioned in an update, “the last loan you gave me has tremendously changed my life because nowadays my hotel is the only point where people can find cold drinks. While I used to sell between 10 to 15 bottles of soft drinks, nowadays, I sell between 70 to 100 bottles a day. Besides the increase in the sales of soft drinks now my food remains fresh for a couple of days because it stays under refrigeration.” Each change and innovation to his business has proven to be well-thought-out as he was also able to increase his staff from 4 to 7 employees as of September 2016 due to the surge in business.

Geoffrey’s most recent loan from Zidisha was in November 2016 and with his $766 from lenders he has purchased high quality metal tables and chairs for the hotel restaurant side of his business. He found that the plastic chairs that he had in the past broke regularly, which meant that he was continuously spending money on new chairs. He also found that when a heavier customer broke a chair it was an embarrassing situation for both parties. With the purchase of higher quality seating, Geoffrey can maintain an environment that is comfortable and will be sustainable for years to come.

Geoffrey is highly regarded among his lenders and he is quick to thank the Zidisha community for their continuous support and encouragement as he mentioned in a previous update, “may I thank you so much because with the money you sent me I managed to rent a nice business room which has greatly improved my business.”

Geoffrey New Tables

In addition, as of March 2017 Geoffrey was excited to report, “thanks Zidisha team for your continued support. I’m writing to inform you that my business is going on well. Everything around me is on the right track. I recently was forced to increase my staff arising from the increased number of customers visiting my restaurant. Thanks once again Zidisha team.”

Geoffrey's Sons

Geoffrey has also been able to use part of his profits to pay for his children’s education. He is so thankful that because of his business he does not struggle to pay school fees for his two boys. He noted that earlier on his children had attended a crowded public school but as a result of his business, he is now able to send them to a private school where they are able to receive a high quality education. One of his sons would like to become a doctor and the other dreams of being a businessman. Through the success of Geoffrey’s business and his perseverance, and care for his family, it is clear that the whole family has a strong future ahead.

If you would like to help change the life of another entrepreneur, head on over to our loans page to contribute to another project.