By Betsy Ramser Jaime
For Kenneth Buyeka, it all began with one computer and a very small photo printer. He was raised in a large family in Kenya with his parents, John and Bilha and 2 brothers and 5 sisters, 4 still living. When the time came for him to attend college, he chose Weaver College where he enrolled in their Computer Application Packages program. After graduating, he got a job at a small cyber cafe which turned out to be a difficult learning experience. While Kenneth worked as hard as he could, he was badly mistreated at work but through it all he remained patient and saved as much money as he could. He finally decided to quit his job at the cyber cafe and found a position working as a secretary at St. Lwanga primary school. While his salary was small it didn’t deter him from continuing to save and save.
One day he approached his parents with the idea of starting his own computer services business. They encouraged him and even agreed to provide him with a small financial investment. With the help of his parents and his own savings he was able to purchase a computer and printer, beginning his entrepreneurial journey. He was also then able to purchase a laminator as well. Kenneth is very family oriented and his family is the motivation behind everything he does. He says, ‘I did all this to help my family and support the living of my parents who are growing old. The small interest [profit] I get from my business I use it to support my brothers who are in college and also to cater for my living going forward.’
To date, Kenneth has received six Zidisha-funded loans and has a perfect repayment record of 100%. He obtained his first loan in January 2014 with a modest investment of $49. With this loan he was able to purchase photocopy papers, lamination papers, and ink for his printer. He chose these materials because photocopying and laminating seemed to be the busiest segments of his business.
With his second loan of $145 in July 2014, he purchased a desktop computer to meet the needs of his growing business. At the time, he just had the one computer that he had started with. He knew that with a second computer he could hire an employee to do some printing and typing work for him. Shortly thereafter, he found another need to fill in his business. While the two desktop computers were great for his business, he knew that having a laptop computer would allow him to get additional work done in the evenings at home.
In April 2015, Kenneth noted that his business was growing at a rapid pace and that his community of Nakuru Bahati was developing as well. As new organizations and institutions emerged, the need for typing and photocopying services skyrocketed. He mentioned that many students are given research projects where their submitted work must be typed, making his typing service a high demand amenity. With his next loan of $417 he was able to purchase an additional copier and also added another employee to his payroll.
By late July he was happy to share with his lenders that, ‘my family parents have now moved from a temporary residence [a makeshift shack made from metal sheeting] to a permanent residence [a solid home made from concrete], this is just from the support I have achieved from your loans. I am grateful to you lenders.’ When asked why he likes his particular business he is happy to say, ‘I like my business because it makes me a lot of profit, especially the photocopy and lamination section. The profit is good and I am very happy to see that since I am able to cater for my bills and expenses.’
As September rolled around, Kenneth had a great update to share on his discussion page: ‘Hi lenders, thank you very much. My business is doing well and the earnings have increased by 30%.’ As business remained high, Kenneth received his most recently repaid Zidisha loan of $566 in November 2015. Through the help of this loan he was able to buy two additional desktop computers for his business. He found that he had a large number of customers, particularly college students who needed to browse the internet and the additional computers would serve this need.
This month, Kenneth raised a new loan of $923. This time, his plans are even more ambitious: he will use the loan to purchase enough computers to start a computer training center – a service that up until now his community has lacked. Thanks to Kenneth and his lenders, young adults in Kenneth’s neighborhood will have the chance to learn the IT skills that can help them qualify for well-paid jobs or self-employment.
Zidisha has clearly had a significant impact upon both Kenneth and his family, as he mentions, ‘the profit I have attained from what Zidisha has done in my business has made my life better. I have also managed to improve the community through hiring some youths. I have also been able to invite new members to join Zidisha and they have also improved the living standards of their families at large.’
In addition to his success as a businessman, Kenneth is proud that through his business he is now able to pay for his sister’s school fees to attend high school and he says, ‘thank you Zidisha members. At this moment, I lack nothing in my business, I have enough goods and services to cater for my customers hence more profit generation. I salute you Zidisha lenders.’ Going forward, he imagines that in the next year he will be moving to a larger office space and continuing to purchase more equipment as needed.
If you are inspired by Kenneth’s story, head on over to our loans page to support another incredible entrepreneur.