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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.