By Betsy Ramser Jaime
As a single mother with six children, Dorice Mikanga has not always had an easy life. She was forced to end her own schooling when she found out that she was pregnant while in Primary school. She then got married and had two more children but found herself in a bad home situation as her husband had hallucinations and would beat her at all hours of the day. After ending the marriage she eventually married again and had three more children, however, this was also a troubled marriage as her husband drank heavily and did not provide for the family in any way.
After 6 tumultuous years, Dorice summed up the courage to start a new life for herself and her children. She returned home to see her Mother, acquired a passport, and set off to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid. Unfortunately, the family that she worked for treated her poorly so after her contract ended she was ready to return home to Kenya.
Although she didn’t have much, she used the little money she had to start two businesses, one selling used clothes, and the other a beauty shop and salon called Mama Vera where she also sells beauty products such as shampoo, hair extensions, and wigs. Her shop is located in the Kima area which is home to around 50,000 residents. Dorice notes that with it’s semi urban lifestyle, ‘my business is bound to grow by leaps and bounds.’ There are also two schools within close proximity, which account for a large number of her customers.
Dorice first discovered Zidisha in June 2016 and began with a modest loan of $20. At this point, she was receiving about five customers each day and during the busy season in December, had around 10 customers per day. With her first Zidisha funded loan, she hoped to put the money towards a new digital ceramic blow dry machine. She adds, ‘my current one is not enough as blow dry is becoming more popular hair styling gadget here.Thanks lenders hopefully you will help my dream become a reality.’
A few months later, Dorice was ready for a second loan. In September 2016, she requested a $40 loan to purchase smooth egg shampoo in bulk. She mentioned that this is the best product on the market and that buying in smaller quantities would be much more expensive. She determined that after buying in bulk, she could also re-sell the product to individuals and other business owners.
She requested a second loan in September for $111, which she was excited to put towards an electric massager. She says that she is ‘slowly turning my small salon into a beauty parlour.’ Initially, she expected to charge $5 for 30 minutes for using the massager.
By December, Dorice was once again ready to expand. With this next loan of $272 she was ready to purchase a hair drying unit. For her business, this meant she was entering into the busiest time of the year. With only one hair dryer on hand, she knew it would not be enough to sustain the surge of business she would be receiving. The new machine would handle the excess clients who would previously have had to wait when she only had one machine. She was also excited because this new dryer would also have steaming abilities as well.
On December 8, 2016, she posted on her discussion board, This business has helped me take my daughter to a good school. She is finishing high school now. Thank you my lenders.’
By April 2017, Dorice was ready to share an update and request a new loan. She mentioned, ‘Hello lenders. Thank you for my past loans, truly I am succeeding. I have managed to buy some machines for my salon and I am planning to relocate to a more up market stall and locate my salon there in order to have customers who pay well.’
For this loan she requested, $497 in order to purchase a modern salon station which would include a manicure set, large mirror, reclining chair, and a place to house all styling accessories. She notes, ‘this station will allow me to beautify my salon and make it modern.’
A few months later, Dorice requested her most recent Zidisha funded loan of $859. She begins by sharing this inspiring update with her lenders, ‘Thank you my lenders and Zidisha team at large. It has been a very fruitful walk with Zidisha. My lenders, you have transformed my life, with every loan my business is doing so well that I never miss a chance.’
With this loan, Dorice planned to hire an extra 10 girls to work in her business. She explains, ‘For me this is a great loan it has come at the right time as Kenya is going through the election period. Most people here in the western region move from cities to come and vote in their original homes. So the village is flooding with city people and they have to maintain their hair styles.’
Shortly after, on August 15, 2017 Dorice shared on her discussion page, ‘I want to register my great gratitude to my lenders. I wish I could name you all. Thank you very much, this is doing me a great service and I will prosper.’ She also says, ‘I promise to be faithful and hardworking so that one day I may also be an instrumental lender.’
It’s incredible to see how far Dorice has come. It’s clear that she has so much to be proud of and is certainly a source of inspiration to each of her six children. For Dorice, Zidisha, her lenders, and her business have truly transformed her life. She shares, ‘Wow. Thanks lenders for putting your trust in me. My dreams are unfolding before my eyes. In this part of the world where poverty is the order of the day and banks are charging poor people a lot to get a loan, I say thank you. My lenders I will never disappoint you. This business has seen my children through secondary school and they are still continuing. I am praying hard for God to help me see all my children succeed in life even as a single mother.’
Like Dorice, there are hundreds of other borrowers ready for the next loan that could change their lives. Check out our lend page to learn more.