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.

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