By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Brenda Otieno is a native Kenyan who has had to work incredibly hard for everything that she has achieved. Growing up, the free primary school program was not yet available and with a pension of 40 dollars per month, her father struggled to support his eight children, meaning that she was in and out of school. However, she didn’t let this defeat her, instead, she developed the mindset and perspective that education was her key to make it in life. This led to her receiving a ‘best student’ award for her school and later on attending and graduating from Masinde Muliro University.
After graduating she says, ‘Employment in Kenya was not forthcoming, thus I followed my passion for entrepreneurship.’ Since then, she has run a variety of businesses. Her first was buying curtains from a secondhand market to resell. Then, she saved up for a motorbike and now her nephew is able to run her motorbike venture for her, securing profits for both of them. Because motorbikes are a popular means of transportation in Kenya, she knew this was a great market to enter into.
Zidisha lenders have stood by Brenda through 8 Zidisha funded loans, and with good reason, considering her repayment rate of 100%. Always persistent and determined she shares, ‘I would not like my children to experience the kind of life that I did. My first born would like to be a journalist when she grows up and I am determined to make her dreams valid. I purpose to sharpen my entrepreneurial skills and make their future better and brighter and make them financially independent, realizing their full potential through innovation and entrepreneurship hence solving problems. I wish this for women in general by initiating several groups (chama) for savings and investing.’
For her first of eight loans, she requested $50 in August 2015 to purchase an additional helmet for the motorbike passenger. This is essential as it is against the law in Kenya to ride on a motorbike without a helmet. The remainder of the loan was put towards a new side mirror for the bike as the current one was broken. Two months later, she requested her second loan of $100 and with this loan she purchased insurance for the bike.
In January of 2016, Brenda was in need of a personal loan, and of course, her loyal lenders were happy to help. She requested $199 to pay the school fees for her children. $145 went directly for the tuition fees and the rest was put towards other school materials that her children would need. At the time of this loan, she shared with lenders, ‘This will give me satisfaction as a parent as my children will be able to attend school comfortably without any problems and I will be able to have peace of mind and concentrate more on other income generating activities to make their future better. In the past they have been in and out of school due to lack of school fees hence this money if you lend me will assist in keeping them in school hence better performance in class.’
In 2016, Brenda secured two Zidisha funded loans in April and August for $201 and $302. With the April loan she set to raise money in order to purchase a new set of wheels for the motorbike as well as brake pads. This loan also included the cost of labor for the mechanic. She explains, ‘This is a rainy season in Kenya and most of the roads are not tarmacked thus the worn out wheels will not be able to withstand the harsh conditions during this season as the friction of the wheels on the roads is reduced due to wetness. The brake pads will minimize the occurrence of accidents as the ones I currently have are overused.’ Then, for her August loan she bought a tracking device for her motorbike as well as a carrier for transporting goods and other small parts. She felt more confident knowing that the tracking device would help prevent theft.
Most recently, Brenda has requested two loans so far in 2017 in January and later on in October for $453 and $1,226. The first loan went towards school fees for her daughters. Her first born has just joined the upper class and her second born has just started class one in primary school. The October loan will be put towards her other business which is curtain and tent making. She has been using a manual sewing machine but she knows that upgrading to an electric machine would greatly improve her business. This will allow her to work at a faster rate and to increase her overall production and output.
On October 18, she recently shared, ‘I am very pleased by the faith you have shown in me and financing my loan. May the our good Lord increase you beyond your expectation as you help us to grow here in Africa. My dream of owning a sewing machine has come to pass, thank you for coming to my rescue in this entrepreneurial journey.’
It is clear that everything that Brenda has done and achieved has been to pave the way for her girls and the next generation. She appropriately sums it up by explaining, ‘I would like to invest in my children’s future because they are the leaders of tomorrow and I wish to see them prosper and have a better life than I managed to have myself so that they may be able to assist others in their generation and make a difference in people’s lives.’
Would you also like to make a difference in the next generation? Head on over to our Lend page to read about other parents working to create a better world for their children.