By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Purity Mwirigi is a woman who wears many hats and roles in her life. She is first and foremost a single mother of a son. She is also in her mid thirties, graduated from Katheri High School, and worked in a supermarket for 6 years before starting her first business. Initially, she started a cosmetics shop in Katheri Market while her son was still a baby. She says that later on she noticed that there was a high demand for stationery and textbooks in her market, which is how she conceived of the idea for her current business.
She is proud of her home and shares with lenders that, ‘The uniqueness of my land is that I was born on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and near the Mount Kenya Forest there are so many game parks and game reserves around.’
Right now, her business consists of photocopying, printing, and typing services. She notes that each of these services are in high demand because there are many schools in the surrounding area, and she is the only shop in the market that provides these services.
With her profits, she is able to pay fees for her sons’ schooling, he hopes to be a pilot when he grows up. In addition, the remainder of her profits are put towards upkeep for her home and re-invested back into the business. It’s through re-investing that allows her to add to her stock of textbooks. She says, ‘I chose this business since it’s easy to run and is in high demand. Education will always remain the main factor in our societies; therefore books will always be needed.’
Since joining Zidisha back in 2015, Purity has now successfully funded 6 loans. She received her first loan of $100 in April 2015. All $100 of this first loan was used to buy textbooks, which she predicted would turn a profit of $70 in the span of 3 months. She has found that the textbook business is a good market to be in because she can receive almost double the buying price in a short period of time.
For her next loan, she raised $189 in June 2015 in order to purchase a printer that she could use for printing, scanning, and photocopy services. She expected the printer to cost around, $133. With the rest of the loan, she would have money remaining to buy printer paper and ink cartridges. Purity was excited by this loan because she knew it would open the door for her to better serve her current customers as well as the potential to acquire new customers as well.
By September 2015, Purity was once again ready to make some improvements to her business. With this next loan, she raised $367, $180 of which she used to purchase primary and high school revision booklets. Afterwards, she would have $180 remaining to purchase additional printing ink and 26 reams of printing paper.
For her fourth loan, Purity requested $550 in February of 2016 to start expanding her business. In addition to her current services, she was ready to add money transfer services. She predicted that this would benefit her business in a few different ways. First, this would allow current customers to access their cash through their phones to pay for their services in her business. In addition, including this in demand service would allow her to retain new customers as well. Purity was able to penetrate a growing market and serve her community in a much needed way. She says, ‘In fact mobile money services are in high demand in my home area since the nearest service is quite far, so my services will help ease the distance one has to travel to access this service.’
The first part of this loan was put towards acquiring an agent number. She would also need additional cash on hand for when clients need to withdrawal money. Thirdly, Purity would need to purchase a mobile phone hand set for the agent sim card. Finally, the last step would be to re-brand her business to include this new service. Going into this loan, she was able to use some of her savings in addition to her requested Zidisha loan.
In September 2016, Purity kindly shared with her lenders, ‘Hi, may I take this opportunity to say thank you Zidisha family for the continued support you have afforded me. My son and I will forever be grateful for this support.’
For her next loan of $829 in September of 2016, Purity was in need of more stock, including, supplies of stationery, pens, textbooks, etc. With this loan, she also needed to expand her credit line for the money transfer part of her business. The remainder of the loan, combined with some of her own savings would go towards, purchasing memory sticks for mobile phones, renewing her business license, and obtaining more cash on hand for clients that want to withdrawal money.
On April 17, 2017, Purity shared this inspiring update on her discussion page, ‘You have made my dreams come true my dear lenders. With the loans you have given me my lifestyle has changed. I have taken my son to a good school, and I can donate at charity homes. l also encourage youth to start up their own businesses so that they can be dependable. May almighty God enlarge your territories my Zidisha family.’
Most recently, Purity requested her largest loan yet, for $1,218 in July 2017. At this time, she experienced a large demand for her printing services, particularly, as her country prepared for their general elections in August. She used this loan to purchase, ‘printing paper and ink cartridges, textbooks and stationery, M-pesa cash, 6 months rent, re-branding, annual license, 2 months salary for her assistant.
On July 21, Purity shared with lenders, ‘My assistant is one of the those who is benefiting from my business. She comes from a poor background and she has enrolled for food and beverage courses through savings from the salary I pay her. I have promised to support her tuition, thanks to Zidisha.’
With this loan, she is optimistic that by the end of 2017 she will be able to expand her business and create more jobs for the jobless youth in her community.
Were you inspired by Purity’s story? If so, head on over to our Lend page, and make a difference in the life and community of other Zidisha entrepreneurs.