By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Alice Wachira was the first born child who, at age 5, was handed over to her father’s twin brother, as his wife could not bear him any children. Life was pretty good for her until her uncle decided to remarry six years later. After that, life became very difficult for Alice. During this time, she often went to school hungry, slept hungry, and as a result, her grades suffered, and she eventually had to withdraw. Fortunately, she was still able to sit for her KCPE and she scored a high enough grade to proceed to secondary school and then to college.
While some people allow negative experiences to hold them captive, this was not the case for Alice. For Alice, these experiences changed the trajectory of her life in a positive way. She notes that, ‘this experience gave me a sense of independence. Today, together with two other friends, we have embarked on assisting kids with special needs in my home village primary school. I feel this is one way of giving back to the community.’
She now has a beautiful family of her own with a husband and as the mother of two children. Her daughter is sixteen and aspires to be a marine pilot in the future. She also has a son who is seven years old and while he is not exactly sure what he wants to do, he certainly has a liking for the work that his father does in the construction industry. It is clear that Alice will do whatever she can to assist her children in achieving their dreams.
Before jumping into entrepreneurship, Alice worked in a welding workshop. However, she found that not having prior experience combined with the male dominated environment made it a challenging place for her to work. Knowing that welding was not an ideal fit for her, she made the decision to open her own boutique.
When Alice discovered Zidisha, she had been operating her boutique for five years. She primarily sells ladies and children’s clothing. She has found that children’s clothing is a good market because children quickly outgrow their clothing and need new clothing often. The primary costs in her business include: stock, rent, licenses, electricity, and transport. Fortunately, through her sales she is able to pay her expenses, keep her stock replenished, and keep some money in her savings.
Alice decided to seek her first Zidisha funded loan in August 2015 and asked for $150 to add more stock to her business. At this time, she was preparing for the busiest time of the season and she wanted to make sure that she had a wide selection for her customers. One aspect that is so impressive about Alice is that she cares deeply about giving back to her community.
A few months later, she returned to Zidisha lenders to request a second loan of $298 in December. She looked forward to obtaining this loan to buy a desktop computer for her business records. In addition, she hoped to expand her stock of kids clothes as well. As she was approaching another busy season for retail, she knew this would be crucial.
As noted previously, Alice also uses her business profits as a way to give back to the local primary school. She and two other friends have a joint project where they buy school uniforms for the children. In January, she hoped to buy 13 new uniforms for the children. On January 7, 2016, Alice reported on her discussion page regarding her recent loan, ‘This led to increased profits of 40%. With this I will increase my stock and contribute to partial payment of my son’s school fees. This assures me of continued business as well as family matters running smoothly. Thanks you lenders.’
In May 2016, Alice sought her next Zidisha funded loan of $472 to add more children’s clothing to her stock. She believed that this would help boost her sales and would in turn make a profit of $100 per week. She was also motivated by the fact that with her increase in profits she would be able to pay for an accounting course for her daughter as she prepared to attend university. She also determined that a printer for her computer ($140) and a photocopier ($150) would also be smart additions to her business to help with documentation.
Unfortunately, Alice’s father became very ill, so rather than purchasing her photocopier as she had hoped, she used part of her loan to pay for her father’s medical bills while he was in the hospital. As of July, 2016 he is out of the hospital.
Her most recent loan of $704 in March 2017 was her largest yet. With this loan she hoped to diversify her stock by adding more children’s clothing, as well as adding women’s handbags and ladies clothing. Because of the medical expenses that she incurred, she had not been able to buy the copier machine as she had intended with her last loan. The new copier would be purchased with this loan.
A few months later, Alice was proud to announce that she had enrolled her daughter in the Bsc Industrial Mathematics course at the university. While life hasn’t always been easy for Alice she notes that, ‘I am sincerely grateful to Zidisha because even in the toughest of times they stand with us. God bless you and your family.’
Most recently, she updated lenders with this heartfelt news, ‘Below is Njoroge a man I met years back. He is physically challenged. In my small way I managed to purchase food stuff to last at least 2 months. Thank you Zidisha. You taught me to trust and to share.’
We can all learn from Alice’s example that regardless of the size of our bank account, we all have the ability to help those around us.
Did Alice’s story resonate with you? If so, check out our lend page to impact another family and community.