By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Michael Kihungi Makumi, age 27, is a Kenyan citizen, and was raised in a big family as the second of four boys. Education has been an important part of his life. After making his way through secondary school and passing his O level exams, he was fortunate to attend college where he earned a diploma in Computer Studies. After completing his studies, he started off his career at an agricultural firm called, ‘Kenya Agricultural Research Institute where he worked in the computer labs. After that, he transitioned to working at the Ministry of Health for his county, still working in the IT department.
Oftentimes, men and women find themselves thrown into the realm of entrepreneurship because they are frustrated and unhappy with their options or current situation. This was certainly the case for Michael. Since he was only considered a ‘casual laborer’ or contract employee, in his job, he was laid off after three months.
However, instead of remaining frustrated and angry with his circumstances, he decided to channel his energy and meager savings to start a business of his own. Using his education and training with computers and IT, he now does computer repairs, mobile phone repairs and sells memory cards, CCTV camera installation, and does troubleshooting and diagnostics.
In addition to his business, he has also been able to take on an intrinsically rewarding new opportunity. He says, ‘Recently I was fortunate enough to get employed by a medical firm called eastern deanery aids relief program as their Health Management Information Systems Officer, on a yearly contract basis. It deals with taking care of people living with HIV and AIDS by providing comprehensive care throughout their lives for free. The program is funded by CDC and PEPFAR. It not paying but the satisfaction I get when I contribute to making the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS better, it’s payment enough.’
Since partnering with Zidisha, he has also been able to add a medium sized cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. He says, ‘Zidisha has really helped me a lot, I can never take it for granted. Through Zidisha, I have also been able to buy a full CCTV installation kit, a cordless drill and two more computers for my cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your continued support. This great level of kindness that you show me and my business ventures will never go unpaid, I thank God for all my dear lenders and also the Zidisha Team and may He bless you all with the blessings of Abraham. Shalom!
One of the reasons why Michael’s Zidisha story is so impressive is because it shows firsthand that a little really can go a long way. From the information above, it’s easy to assume that Michael has been partnering with Zidisha for many years and has raised thousands of dollars in loans, and in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Michael’s journey with Zidisha started quite recently, in January of 2017, and his first two loans of four total, were under $10 USD. Many of us mistakenly believe that big changes require deep pockets, and sometimes they do, however, Michael, and many other Zidisha borrowers would argue that a $10 loan could be the start of something really significant.
Michael’s first loan, back in January 2017, was only for $5 and with this small sum he was able to buy memory cards wholesale from a local vendor. In addition to the money, Michael saw the bigger picture that this was also a great opportunity to build trust and a good long term relationship with his lenders.
A few months later, he requested his second Zidisha funded loan in May 2017 for $8. With this loan he purchased a new CCTV installation kit which consisted of: pliers, a crimping tool cable stripper, cable tester, and other gadgets. Michael notes, ‘This is a worthwhile business and the toolkit would be a great starter pack and it will go a long way.’
Later that month, he found himself in need of some additional business tools. He requested a loan of $87 to purchase a drill. He mentions, ‘A drill will assist me in provision of quality work, instead of hammering the screws inside the walls while setting up the cameras, which usually ends up messy, a drill would go a long way in neatly securing the screws and the cameras.’
Most recently, Michael requested a loan of $198 in July 2017. His largest loan yet, this allowed him to purchase more computers for his shop to start a cyber cafe and computer literacy classes. He explains the felt need for this as he says, ‘We are in a digital world where almost everything is run by computers. Internet services provision and computer literacy is very essential. I am looking to buy two computers at the cost of 10,000KES or 96.39 US dollars for each computer making it 20,000KES or 192.77 US dollars for the two computers. I already have an internet connection from a reliable and local internet service provider Safaricom Limited. A computer literacy package or training will go for 5,000KES or 48.19 US dollars per person, and with a projection of at least 5 new enrollments per month, it would make it 25,000KES or 240.96 US dollars as profit. Surfing the internet will be 2KES per minute. I will also create employment since I will have to hire a good computer tutor and a cyber cafe attendant.’
This new venture proved to be a strong idea for two reasons. First, a cyber cafe with computer literacy classes clearly falls under Michael’s education and area of expertise. In addition, he did his research and determined that quality computer literacy classes were not being offered in his area.
As he reflects on his months with Zidisha so far, he can already see changes happening in his life. He shares with his lenders, ‘Throughout this journey of self employment, Zidisha has really come through for me especially by financing my projects to buy gadgets to ease my working conditions and to attain profit margins since now I do not have to hire equipment to do my work, I have my own. As a volunteer mentor, I thank God for Zidisha, and I will always be in debt to all my lenders and those who have always come through for me.’
While Michael loves to work hard in his business, he also enjoys giving back and having fun. When he’s not working you can find him doing charity work and visiting the sick as a Community Healthcare Worker, or listening to good meaningful music. Also, he wants lenders to know that if you are an animal lover as he is, he encourages each of you to come visit Kenya’s beautiful national parks.
A small loan can make a big impact. Head on over to our lend page to read about our other amazing borrowers.