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.
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.
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