Searching for Beautiful Ornaments

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Bernard Mwangi may have passed through some hardships throughout his life, but he has always been able to overcome them. As a high school student, he lived in Nairobi and attended, Muhuri Muchiri High School where he did his K.C.S.E. in 2014. Afterwards, he joined Skylink Flight Services where is currently pursuing a course in aeronautical engineering. His strong work ethic has allowed him to excel in difficult work environments such as working in construction sites and other difficult labor jobs. While difficult, it was through these tough jobs that he was able to save the money to start his business.

Being observant, Bernard discovered that his city had a definite competitive advantage, the high volume of tourists. He found that tourists were always searching for beautiful ornaments, beaded sandals, Massai Kikoli’s and African Art. Because he is a business minded man, he set out to make a move and delve into this industry. When he is not working on his business or busy studying, he loves visiting new places and observing people from other cultures. He also really enjoys watching documentaries in the little free time that he has.

In his business, Bernard provides Maasai beaded sandals, Maasai vikoi’s, and beaded wristbands and necklaces. He notes that his goods are really in demand both locally and internationally because of the genuine quality of the leather. Bernard sought out this particular business because he found it to be rewarding and there has always been a ready market of customers. He has even been working to implement the use of social media as a new way to market his goods.

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With his business profits he is able to pay for his school fees, food, life insurance, and has even been able to expand his business.

Bernard set out to obtain his first Zidisha funded loan in October 2016. With this loan, he was excited to buy new materials such as, ‘beads, refined leather, sewing wool, scissors, leather glue, and rubber sandal shoe soles. He also intended to use some of his own savings and hoped to produce 3 pairs of leather beaded sandals, 4 leather beaded wristbands, and at least 8 necklaces.

Selling these items alone would be enough to pay his bills and put some money away in savings to expand his business in the future. He says, ‘From my business, I will be able to add employees who I will manage to pay them well and also come up with an affiliate program which will do the sales and marketing process all over the world.’

He also hopes that by starting his own business, he will inspire other members of his community to start businesses of their own and to dream big and come up with new ideas.

In January of 2017, he set out to obtain his second loan of $19 for new materials. He predicted that the beads would cost around $10 and the remaining $9 would be put towards leather material. With this loan, he continued to increase in his confidence in himself and his business. He excitedly shared ‘I will gain more profit which will enable me to expand my business hence to others I will help them understand that self employment is great and profitable more so this will be to the young people.’

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His most recent Zidisha funded loan was in May 2017, when he requested $74. Similar to his previous loans, he used the funds to purchase leather material, rubber soles, beads, sewing string, and cobbler’s glue. With additional materials, he will be able to increase his production and by doing so, increase his profits as well. He is able to sell each pair of sandals for $30.

On May 1, 2017, Bernard shared on his discussion page, ‘I am thankful to all my lenders and wanna wish them a happy new month and God bless them for their hand in helping the new, young, promising entrepreneurs. Merci beaucoup!’

He was excited that with the profits of this loan he would be able to repay his loan, save for the future, invest, and even set a little money aside for personal development. In addition, he views his business as a way to positively impact his entire community. He is even able to teach young entrepreneurs in his community how to invest and to make sandals and in doing so, creating their own businesses.

Recently, on September 19, he shared with lenders, ‘Dear lenders, the loan I received is of great help since my business is doing good. Thanks a lot.’

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As of September 2017, Bernard is an aeronautical engineering student and hopes to be graduating in 2019. He notes that he is doing great in school and that his business is thriving. He is so appreciative of his lenders and says, ‘Zidisha is really making me grow.’

Would you like to support another student/entrepreneur like Bernard? Head on over to our lend page to read about our other inspiring entrepreneurs.

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