A Generous Giver

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

For Wilberforce Meki Oyiengo, entrepreneurship was not his original career plan. After growing up as the first born in a family of six, he pursued a diploma in Architecture at Weco College of Applied Science and Technology. He had hoped to find a government job, but when that plan did not work out, he found that he needed a new option. He ended up starting a small business buying and selling secondhand household goods. Some of these goods included: television sets, refrigerators, furniture, microwaves, and radios. In addition, depending on the item, he is also able to do repairs as well before selling the items.

Wilberforce was truly able to fill a void in the market as his discovered that many members of his community wanted to purchase these items but could not afford to buy them new. As a result, he is now providing products that his customers want and he is also able to support his family with his business as the sole source of income.

He discovered Zidisha in April 2014 when he acquired his first loan of $150. After some poor experiences with banks and high interest rates, he found Zidisha to be the ideal lending partner. With this initial loan, Wilberforce hoped to buy new inventory, pay his rent, and pay his security man. This would allow him to expand the number of items he had available for sale.

With his next loan of $444 in June 2014, he was ready to buy some secondhand motorbikes to re-sell. A few months later, in October 2014, he asked for a loan of $655 in order to purchase a speaker and a music keyboard for the public events that he does.

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The following year, in February 2015, he was ready for another loan but this one was different from the first few. For this Zidisha funded loan, he requested $954 for his son who had finished primary school and was heading into secondary school. Rather than putting the pressure on his business to pay the school fees, he knew that he could depend on his loyal Zidisha lenders with a loan to help him pay his son’s school fees.

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By May 2015, Wilberforce was ready not only for another loan, but also to expand his offerings to include secondhand vehicles. For this loan, he requested, $1,512 to buy car engines and with two interested buyers before he had even finished the cars, he was eager to obtain this loan and start working on his cars. By the end of 2015, Wilberforce requested a loan of $2,228 as he had begun buying 1 or 2 cars at a time, fixing them up, selling them, and purchasing one or two more.

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On November 23, 2015, he shared a truly inspirational story with the Zidisha community as he says, ‘Greetings to you all Zidisha team, I take this opportunity to let you know that I am so grateful for the support I have gotten from you through your low interest rate loans, that has been able to change my life totally.’ He goes on to share that last December he was able to make the largest profit that he had ever had in his business. To show his appreciation and gratitude he decided to buy Christmas gifts for needy members of his community. He notes that the outcome was so powerful. So much so that this year he hopes to do something even bigger this Christmas even gaining support from his Church friends as well. He finishes with, ‘Thank you so much Zidisha for this big vision.’

In May of 2017, Wilberforce was excited to remind lenders of how far he has come. He says, ‘Get my greetings all Zidisha team, happy I am, when I remember where you found me and how far I have come, it is really encouraging. I used to borrow money with high interest rates which was very hard to make a profit with, but now at least I can make 100% profit, this has made my loan repayment journey manageable, and also improved my life, I am proud of you ZIDISHA team.’

His most recent loan of $3,427 in June 2016 was used to buy more motor vehicles that he could work on and eventually sell for a profit. Later in June he also took to his discussion page to share this update, ‘Hi Zidisha team, I want to acknowledge your financial support that has really changed my life together with my family, right now I have two parcels of land as a result of a Zidisha loan, I still believe that through you, I will be able to develop them for commercial purposes, thank you team for your support.’

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Though his business, Wilberforce has been able to support not only his own family and school fees for his 5 children but also supports underprivileged members of his community. For example, when he heard that a boy in his town would not be able to continue his secondary education due to a lack of school fees, he says, ‘my heart was pricked and I decided to take him to school.’ He repeated this kind gesture with a young girl who was struggling in school and whose single mother was struggling to pay her school fees. Through these gestures, Wilberforce is a great example to both other Zidisha borrowers and to other members of his local community in being generous regardless of how much or little we each have to give.

Were you inspired by Wilberforce’s generosity? Head on over to our loans page and invest in the business and community of another inspiring entrepreneur.

Born to Be an Entrepreneur

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Growing up with a father who was self employed in the lumber industry and a mother who was a small scale farmer, it’s no surprise that Dancan Mong’are caught the entrepreneurial bug. As the second son of five brothers he knew that he needed to find a way to support himself as he continued his university studies. He didn’t want to place any additional financial strain on his parents as his brothers also studied at college. Right now, Dancan is in the Purchasing and Supply Management degree program at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Nakuru CBD Campus. Through his computer service business he is able to pay his rent, bills, and it has even allowed him to buy a laptop for his research and school assignments.

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Within his business, Dancan offers a variety of computer services including: type setting, photo printing, internet services and computer software repairs. In addition, he also sells a few goods such as, printing papers, envelopes, pens, and pencils. Dancan notes that he has been able to distinguish himself in the market through his fast service and affordable prices.

Each month, his typical costs consist of: maintaining and replacing printer parts such as ink cartridges as well as purchasing new goods and stock like printing papers and stationery. Even taking into account the above expenses, he is able to maintain an average profit of 10,000 to kshs. 18,000.

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Dancan started his Zidisha journey back in March 2014 when he approached lenders for a $150 loan to purchase a quality desktop computer for his business. He knew that this addition to his business would allow him to improve the quality and quantity of his services to his customers in a short period of time. He had the ideal computer in mind and with his $50 of savings, and his $150 Zidisha loan, he was ready to made a great investment in his business.

A few months later, Dancan sought out his second Zidisha funded loan in October 2014 and this time he requested $314. After noticing an increase in profits following his first loan, he was excited to see how this next loan would positively impact his profits. He proposed that $120 of this second loan would be used to hire a worker to help him with type setting, photo printing, internet services, etc. The remaining amount would be put towards purchasing printing papers, envelopes, pens, printer parts, and stationary. Dancan predicted that this loan would result in a 30% increase in monthly profits.

In June of 2015, Dancan was once again ready to take his business to the next level. With a loan of $460 from Zidisha lenders, combined with his own savings of $550 Dancan was ready to purchase a motor bike. His primary customer base consisted of students and several schools. The schools that he served wanted to buy supplies in bulk from him, meaning that he needed a way to transport his goods from his shop to the schools. Dancan determined that a motor bike would be the most affordable and appropriate way to do this since it would consume less gas and would be more affordable compared to a motor car.

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In January of 2016, Dancan prepared for his fourth Zidisha funded loan as he expressed to his lenders, ‘Thanks a lot for your continued support towards my projects. I really have seen a positive impact in my business, thanks to Zidisha loans. This being my fourth loan, I have real confidence that my business will get to another level.’ With this loan, Dancan requested $694 to put towards a smart photo printing machine. This request came as the result of increased demand for passport photos for local students. He notes, ‘7 out of 10 parents who come to buy stationery for their children usually request me to open a studio to provide them and their children with the service since there is no photo studio around the area and in order to get passports, they are forced to incur extra cost since the service is quite far.’

Through his research, he found that the machine itself would cost around $480 and a bundle of printing papers would be $25. He intended to buy 10 bundles for a total of $250. The remaining $200 would be used to purchase a digital camera.

Dancan obtained his most recent Zidisha funded loan in January 2017 for $1,051. For this loan, Dancan was ready to open a new branch providing the same services and goods that he has in his current shop. He predicted the total cost to open the shop would be $1,700 and the rest of the money would be funded from his own savings. The costs would include: an Epson photo printer for $389, a laser-jet printer $97, a second hand copier machine $583, a few stationery items, $195 for rent, renovation services and operational expenses $389 and miscellaneous expense of $97.

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In January, Dancan expressed so clearly the heart behind Zidisha and why it works when he said, ‘Despite all the criticism of micro-lending schemes and their ideological impact, I must admit that Zidisha stands out since it bypasses expensive local banks and intermediaries that charge sky-high interest rates and offer a person-to-person platform that lets lenders and entrepreneurs communicate openly and instantly. This helps us small entrepreneurs present our business projects to potential lenders who in turn fund us to improve our businesses. I am so humbled with the continued support towards my projects. I really have seen a positive impact in my business through my previous Zidisha loans. Am so grateful.’

Also in January of this year, Dancan was excited to share with lenders that he has graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Purchasing and Supplies Management. He believes that by combining his own entrepreneurial experience with his formal training and coursework, he will be even more prepared to manage his business well in the future. In addition, he is proud that his business has created job opportunities for two employees and one part-time employee. Plus, he’s looking forward to employing even more members of his community as his business continues to grow.

If you enjoyed reading about Dancan and his story, head on over to our lend page and help support another incredible entrepreneur.

Where in the World Can You Get a Loan From a Stranger….Zidisha!

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

For many years, struggle and hardship was just a way of life for George Kiio. As a child, he knew what it was like to be forced to quit school when he couldn’t pay the school fees. However, that was not enough to hold George back. He then started work as a herdsman and worked for a year to raise the money he needed to go to school.

After finishing high school he earned the money to pay his college tuition by selling roasted and fried peanuts cooked in the school hostel. He comments that, ‘I was lucky enough to get supply contracts in some nearby supermarkets such as Uchumi, Kenya and other local supermarkets.’

Once he finished his university studies, he was ready to open a new business and career. He decided to invest in a long-term retail shop in the local area which operates 24 hours a day. He has even been able to employ two people to work in the shop. In addition to operating his shop, he is also happy with his job working in a cybersecurity company.

Utilizing his business skills from his previous venture, George was ready to add more items to his stock including: selling wholesale maize, beans, peas, green grams, lentils, wheat, and maize flour. He mentioned that, ‘I have realized in my local area that there is a market gap and hence the demand.’

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With the need for new stock also came the need for a financial investment. Fortunately, George discovered Zidisha and was able to secure his first Zidisha funded loan of $5 in December of 2016. This loan was used to purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables including: bananas both raw and ripe, green maize, vegetables such as cabbages, sukumawikis and kienyeji, bulb onions and other kinds of vegetables.

Two months later, George returned to his roots of selling peanuts by adding peanuts to his current shop offerings. By roasting and deep frying the peanuts himself, he would sell the peanuts at both wholesale and retail. For this he obtained a second Zidisha loan in February 2017 for $7. To convey the impact of this small loan George says, ‘A kilogram of peanuts cost Ksh.140 and has a return of at least Ksh.500. which can cater for my rent as I use my salary to pay school fees to my young siblings.’

Going forward, George was ready to think long-term. He determined that by producing his own vegetables and products this would cut down on food costs for both his family and customers as he could offer his products for a smaller markup if he was producing the food himself. Therefore, he requested his next Zidisha funded loan of $81 in April of 2017. With this loan, he bought all types of seeds that he could plant. He also put this loan towards renting the land, labor costs for planting, and bush fencing to keep out animals. Overall, he knew that this loan would allow him to cut down on his cost of living and become less dependent on market food.

On May 17, 2017, George shared this incredible update on his discussion page, ‘Thank you Zidisha for supplementing my initial capital in all my businesses. May God bless you all. Last but not least, thank you my lenders and may God increase your capital to fund more loans. You have golden hearts. I wish you existed the time I schooled. I would have not gone through such tough challenges.’

For George’s most recent loan, he requested $229 in June 2017. He planned to use this loan to buy 50 kg of raw peanuts for roasting. He predicted that this would generate a profit of at least $70 USD which he could use to reinvest into his business and to put towards his home and shop rent. He also intends to buy a meko (cooking gas) and a larger sufuria (cooking pot) for roasting his peanuts. Finally, he will continue to buy new vegetables and food inventory until he is able to sell the products that he is growing himself.

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George is always excited and optimistic about the future and would like lenders to know that, ‘I will use my profit to educate my young girl, who will be joining baby school in August, and support my parents. If all goes well, then I will be able to purchase commercial land where I can build my own shop. # i love my lenders’

Wanting to share how truly grateful he is to both his lenders and the Zidisha community George shares, ‘Thank you my lenders for taking time to lend me your money. It may seem small to you but to me is too much. I never imagined will ever get a platform like this one. Thanks Zidisha too. Where in the World would I have gotten a loan from a stranger? It’s quite motivating. Payment of the loan is not an option but mandatory and actually on-time. I love you all.

Overall, George is so impressed with how his life has changed since he was first introduced to Zidisha. He is now able to produce larger quantities and to upgrade the quality of his products. In addition, he is excited to share that he has even been able to save up for a smartphone. Now he is able to take and upload his own photos rather than always using a cyber cafe. In his own words, ‘Zidisha is improving my life very much.’

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Would you like to help improve the life of an entrepreneur like George. If so, make sure to check out our Lend page to read updates and stories of other incredible business owners.