No Matter What Happens, Life must Go On

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Joseph Saaquah is a 23 year old Ghanan, with a strong work ethic and an optimistic outlook. He is the youngest of three children and has always had to work hard to help his family out financially. Never having met his father, he was raised by a single mother who struggled to support her children. He shares, ‘no matter what happens, life must go on.’

As a result of his persistence and hardworking nature, he finished high school at Gomoa Secondary High Technical School. In his words, ‘Life hasn’t been easy, but I’ve never given up because I’m determined to be educated. Sometimes I have to drop from school, though, to help mum in selling to get money for my fees and my chop money (money for daily provision of food is called “chop money” in Ghana).’

He also found it difficult to find a job after finishing high school, which is how he stumbled into entrepreneurship. His business is as a mini importer which is both a profitable area as well as a business where he has the necessary technical know how. He’s also a continuous student, always learning new skills on the internet, and learning from friends. Right now, he is also running his business entirely from a cyber cafe as he is still raising the funds to purchase his own computer. Eventually, he would love to return to school and further his education.

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Even amidst the challenges, he confidently shares with his lenders, ‘But I challenge myself not to give up because everything is possible in life. And now that I have come across this wonderful family, I can boldly say that my dreams will surely come to reality. I live in a peaceful environment with lovely people.’

Joseph was able to raise his first Zidisha funded loan back in January 2016 for $50. With this starter loan, he purchased an android tablet, which he hoped to resell making a $20 or $25 profit. A few short months later, he was ready to triple his initial loan amount, with a $150 loan to purchase 16GB pen drives.

In July 2016, Joseph raised $292 from Zidisha lenders based on a big problem that he saw in Ghana. He shares, ‘I will be importing a Samsung power bank. The energy sector in Ghana is now very weak. Power shortages are now common. People depend highly on their phones and tablet for business and other purposes therefore having a portable power bank to help keep your device on is very important and helpful. The power bank will cost me $30 per piece and I would also be paying a shipping fee of $50.’

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Most recently, Joseph was able to secure a loan of $409 in February 2017. Ready to try selling a new product, he ventured into mens wrist watches. With this loan, he hoped to increase his profit, which would allow him to save more money towards an education in IT.

In addition, after years of hard work and sacrifice, Joseph’s dreams of continuing his education are finally coming to fruition. In November 2017, he shared, ‘Thanks to my honored lenders for helping change my life for the better. I would be starting my professional diploma in IT as a system administrator next year, all thanks to my lenders. I am very happy and focused because I know you all won’t let me down in my Education. Finally my dream of being IT literate is coming true all thanks to the support you all gave me. Thanks and God bless you all for what you have done for me so far. May God bless you all for the smile you are putting on our faces.’

Do you want to put a smile on the face of another hard working entrepreneur like Joseph? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other inspiring business owners.

Celebrating 2017

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By Julia Kurnia

In 2017, our community made possible a record 64,330 loan projects – almost three times as many as in 2016!

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“No word is enough to describe my joy at finding such an opportunity to get a loan from people all over the world.” – Jean David, Haiti

 

We continued to keep management costs below 5% of the value of the loans funded – so profits accrued to borrowers rather than to administrative overhead.

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“My kids are schooling in a better school and I have also managed to start a small business for my wife.” – Stephen Kiti, Kenya

 

In response to popular request, we built an in-house Forum to better facilitate discussions among members.

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“Formerly we could not afford three square meals, but after joining Zidisha for just 6 months, our life has improved tremendously.” – Bayor Youssif Mashuud, Ghana

 

27% of borrowers joined via our Android app – up from just 2% in 2016.

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“You have made me to put a smile on my sister’s face after a long struggle of no avail for her to go to college.” – Beatrice, Kenya

 

Borrowers and lenders shared 166,364 project updates and messages of encouragement in loan discussions.

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“One year after joining Zidisha, I have a business where I employ four staff.” – Christian Golo, Ghana

 

Our top borrower countries in 2017 were Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana.

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“Zidisha is the best thing that has ever happened to me in the world.” – Boabeng Bright, Ghana

 

1,444 borrowers gave back to the Zidisha community by serving as Volunteer Mentors.

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“l am using part of the profits to further my education in the University now.” – Wise Alormenu, Ghana

 

Our incredible volunteer team responded to 40,910 support tickets!

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“Had it not been for your affordable loans offered to entrepreneurs, I would not have ended up in university.” – Daniel Anarfi, Ghana

 

Our engineering team added 6,609 new features, bug fixes and design improvements to the Zidisha website code.

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“This has been so beautiful… thanks to the Zidisha group you are awesome.” – Joseph Kawiti, Kenya

 

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came together to make this incredible year happen.  It’s a legacy for each of us to celebrate.

Help us make 2018 a life-changing year for even more deserving entrepreneurs.  Check out our latest projects here.

The Side Hustle Life

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mary Nyarko is a native of Agona Duakwa in the Central Region of Ghana. She is in her late twenties and has earned a Bachelor of Education degree in Community Based Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. After graduating, she found herself as a business owner out of necessity as jobs were scarce both in her community and throughout Ghana. In addition to her business, she also works with the Salvation Army Community Rehabilitation Project as a contract staff member in Rehab Personnel.

Back in 2014, she started her business as a trader selling tomatoes and peppers in her local community market. Since then, she has been able to expand her offerings to add: all kinds of vegetables, spices, foodstuffs, and smoked fish.

She currently has a large customer base due to her great interpersonal skills and the relationships that she fosters with her community members. However, her goal is to expand her base to surrounding communities as well.

She shares, “Combining my trading business with the Rehab Personnel job is not an easy task at all but with the assistance from my lovely mum, things are just working out perfectly. In my absence at the market, my mum takes over. Such a lovely mum I have.”

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So far, Mary has secured four Zidisha funded loans. Her first two loans in June and July 2017 were both for $41 and allowed her to increase her working capital. She predicted that this would allow her to increase her profitability by 40% at the end of each month. In the future, she would love for her trading business to be her full-time work over her Rehab Personnel Work, and Zidisha is proving to be a great catalyst to make that happen.

Shortly thereafter, she successfully raised her third Zidisha funded loan in August of 2017 for $84. Based on her experiences she shares, “ Capital injection through Zidisha is so far the easiest, fastest, and free. No collateral is required. As a young lady who is into trading with no physical collateral, acquiring loans from Zidisha will increase my working capital. Stock turnover will be high and will be able to well manage my customers. The loan will eventually be used to purchase more stocks.”

After securing this loan, she excitedly shared on her discussion page, “The loan has really contributed to the success on my business. Thanks to all my noble lenders. God bless you.”

Most recently, Mary secured a $176 loan, her largest yet, in November of 2017. Because the Christmas season is always a big month for sales, Mary wanted to be prepared. With this loan she was able to increase her inventory to meet the high demand that she knew December and January would bring.

On November 17, 2017, Mary shared with her lenders, “We are doing great by the grace of God. My business is gradually growing through capital injection from noble lenders like you. God bless you once again. In fact, acquiring a shop built by the local government is highly political. I’ve tried on several occasion but didn’t succeed. Currently, all the shops have been issued out to their own political party members. But this hasn’t discouraged me at all. I see that as part of life and at the right time, things will be ok. There are other shops which are privately owned by individual entrepreneurs but at a higher price of GH¢2,160.00 per annum. Mostly, these private shop owners only accept a minimum of 5 years advance rent payment (GH¢10,800.00). This is very high. Even more than my current working capital.”

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Even though this may seem discouraging, Mary is still optimistic that things will work out in due time. In addition to her work and business responsibilities, she is also an involved aunt! She shares, “That pretty girl is called Christiana. She is my brother’s daughter and staying with my mum (her grandmother) and I. She is equally my responsibility because I love her and really care. I’m not married. In fact, I’m single and waiting for a responsible man to get married to. Best Regards.”

Were you inspired by Mary’s initiative and example? Head on over to our Lend page to read about other African women who are making small business the norm in their communities!

I Hate Poverty

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I hate poverty, I always dream big and my success is laid in business as a young growing brand,’ shares Patrick Ndirangu. He is a native Kenyan, living with his wife and daughter in the central part of the country. As a child, he attended a village school and then continued to a professional school where he studied Computers, Information Technology, and Business Administration. Because of his education in IT, he chose to start his own Computer Center which has allowed him to provide for himself and his family.

He shares, ‘My Business is a computer advisory center. I provide services such as cyber services, training, typesetting and photocopying, lamination, projects, photography etc. My services are useful to the community since the community get training of computers. I also provide them with computer related services. I choose this kind of the business since it was my dream and passion.’

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Patrick believes that his course of study was a great choice for him as his country needs more entrepreneurs and people who can give back to the community. Currently, his expenses amount to $200 and his revenue is $900 per month.

Patrick discovered Zidisha back in March of 2015 and successfully raised a loan for $99. With this initial loan, he purchased a camera. He knew that this would be a beneficial addition to his business as customers often need photographs. After receiving his new camera, he was able to continue to market and promote his business and services through social media and happy customers.

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A few months later, in August of 2015, Patrick was ready for his next Zidisha funded loan. This time around he requested $171 and he bought a photo printing machine to use in his cyber cafe and information center. The specific model that he wanted was the Epson 1210. This would allow him to provide more services in house rather than spending the time and money to outsource these offerings.

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For his next loan, Patrick raised a loan of $363 in March of 2016. With the funds from this loan he purchased a laptop as well as new software programs for the computer. He also hoped that in addition to his current business and services, the laptop would allow him to take on new freelance work as well.

After purchasing the laptop Patrick shared with lenders, ‘I bought a laptop and now am doing online freelance work and have made a significance in my life since it caters for my expenses and I cannot forfeit to work in remote areas since the laptop is there for me. It was interesting that during the election process I was able to do much training on electoral process with the laptop and I did the assigned task perfectly. In my cyber tech provision business it has made it easy to work when there is no electricity power. During this winter season from the cash from my work I have been able to buy my family and myself warm clothes since its very cold to keep us warm so as to have energy to work. Also, it’s interesting to me that I have been able to chat with my friends online for business purpose.’

Most recently, Patrick requested a loan of $558 in August of 2017. In order to support larger print outs in his shop, he purchased an A3 printer. This would allow him to print calendars, magazines, portraits, and posters.

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On November 29, 2017 Patrick took to his discussion page and excitedly shared with lenders, ‘I thank Zidisha and the entire team for the efforts they make just to make us have hope and to make a smile for the support they offer to us. My business have picked well for the earning I get after buying the photocopier machine, I can handle volumes of work in my work place and that way the payment is promptly and on time and get other extra to feed my family and looking at the future this group will change our lives. Thanks always Zidisha.’

As always, Patrick wants the Zidisha team and his lenders to know how much he appreciates them as he says,’I humbly thank all the 132 lenders who have funded me and entire the Zidisha team for making my dreams come true.’

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If you want to make another borrowers dreams come true, head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories and businesses of entrepreneurs who need your support.

Right on the Money

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Abdul-Karim Mohammed was born in Gumbihini, a suburb of Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana, West Africa. He is the eldest of seven children and grew up in a poor farming family. As a child, he would follow his parents to the farm to help with the workload. His father did not want him to attend school, as he wanted him to help with the farm. However, Abdul was persistent and shares, ‘I cried ceaselessly and he registered my name.’

He was enrolled in Krabonso District Assembly Primary School and continued with its Junior High School where he was named the Senior Prefect (SP). Even as a busy student, he spent his time after school working hard on the farm. Later on he attended Vitting Senior High School where he studied agricultural science and then he continued to University for Development Studies with a specialization in environment and resource development.

He notes that life as a university student was a challenge in terms of finding the money to buy books and pay the class fees. To make some extra money, he began selling credit cards to his fellow students and offered mobile money transactions including: MTN mobile money, Airtel money, Tigo cash, and Vodafone cash. He has been able to grow this business as it is now a market that is doing well in Ghana.

To explain how this works, Abdul shares, ‘If someone wants to withdraw or remove money from his or her mobile wallet, the person pays a commission of 1% of any amount withdrawn.This commission is charged automatically by the network providers. Depositing money into ones wallet also attracts a charge which is paid to us at the end of the month. Everyday, people transact mobile money and also make calls to friends, business partners, relatives and loved ones both near and far, hence the need for this business. This business helps the community members to have easy access to their money.’

In terms of revenue, he uses 20% on home improvements and for paying school fees for his children. Another 10% helps to support the local orphanage, while 40% is used to reinvest in his business. The remaining 30% is used to repay his loans. He also pays a watchman to watch his shop at night to prevent theft.

So far, Abdul has secured four Zidisha loans, his first, was in November in 2016 for $404. This first loan was used to increase his overall capital. His next loan of $567 in March of 2017 was used to purchase credit cards and mobile money. He shares, ‘The community people will no longer travel to far places to buy credit or do mobile money.’

A few months later, Abdul raised a third loan of $861 in August 2017. With this loan he purchased two new mobile phones. One for mobile money transactions and the other for units transfer. The remainder of the loan was used to purchase mobile money and allocated to purchasing credit cards for the available networks in his business area.

Most recently, he secured a fourth loan of $1,448 in December of 2017. He was able to make some big changes to his business including: purchasing two new printers, new printing paper, more mobile money, and credit cards. He was also able to use a piece of the loan to buy food for the Tamale children’s home in his community.

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He enthusiastically shares, ‘This judicious use of the loan would be beneficial to the community and myself in several ways; people within my locality will no longer have to walk to far distance to access all these services I am offering. This will reduce their cost of transportation and stress. On my part, I will earn a lot of profit to grow my business.This will enable me to pay for my loan and also solve my family issues and make more savings.With this loan, I expect my profit to increase by 50% that is from 333.54 to $501 per month.’

Due to the example that he has set, his eldest child would also like to be an entrepreneur and his second would love to be an engineer. When he has the time, Abdul also loves reading books and playing football.

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On December 16, 2017, Abdul was excited to relay this message to his lenders, ‘I thank the lenders for their usual support. They have really improved my life and my family and other people such as the children home. God will bless them abundantly and grant them all their heart desires. I promise to be very committed to them with regards to the repayment of the loan and the growth of Zidisha as a whole. Thank you very much for everything.’

Would you like to support another entrepreneur who is changing their families and communities? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other incredible Zidisha change makers.

 

Earning a Thousand Smiles

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mary Wachinga has a passion for children. Born in Nyeri, Kenya, she studied in school until form 4. Afterwards, she started working for a shoe business, where she stayed for two years before making her way to Nairobi to start a cereal business. After running the cereal business for quite some time, she was ready to pursue her dream of caring for children.

Although running a daycare is not an easy career, it’s one that Mary loves. She has faced a number of hardships along the way especially struggling to pay rent. Through the years she has continuously learned, grown, and persevered. She receives support both through local churches and well wishers in the community. She also has three children of her own in addition to the orphans that she cares for. She has also been able to employ three employees in the business.

She shares, ‘I love this work with passion and during my leisure time I teach them songs.’ In describing the services and support that she offers she says, ‘I provide caring service and also counsel for the young parents who are upcoming and tell them how to nurture children and cope with the problems that children come through.’

Mary finds so much joy when she sees parents heeding her advice and raising healthy, happy children and families. Her love of nurturing comes naturally as caring for children is something that she learned from her own mother.

Through her business she is able to earn enough to provide for her family upkeep, education for her children, savings, and basic needs for the children in her daycare.

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Mary first discovered Zidisha in July of 2015 and used her initial loan of $100 to purchase mattresses, bed sheets, and covers. This was an important investment in her business as she wanted the children to be able to sleep well. In addition, this would show parents that their children were well cared for.

Shortly thereafter, she received her second Zidisha funded loan of $194 in November 2015 with which she purchased a tv set, a digital set box, a dvd player, paint, labor costs, and bed sheets. Then, in April of 2016, she requested a third loan for $411. With this loan, she put up a new ceiling in the building. The loan also covered costs for ceiling plates and additional timber, nails, labor costs, as well as school fees for her children.

By October of 2016, Mary was ready to continue expanding her business. With a $615 Zidisha loan, she was prepared to set up a new room just for babies less than a year old. To make this happen she used the loan to pay for: rent, a ceiling and nails, bed sheets, mattresses, transport, labor, and kids toys.

On October 19, Mary enthusiastically shared, ‘Thank you my lenders for the good work you have done in helping my business grow well. I was able to put up a ceiling and the place is quiet and also I have been able to take my children back to school and its also taking another stage where I want to rent an extra room for the small babies with less than a year. It’s really doing well.’

Most recently, in November of 2017 she requested her largest loan yet of $1,120. Mary was ready to do some maintenance work on her building using part of the loan to repair the floors as well as money to transport the repair materials. She also purchased additional bed sheets and used the remainder of the loan to pay college fees for her daughter who is studying Mass Communication and school fees for her high school age daughter.

Always thankful and grateful for her lenders, Mary shares, ‘Hi my trusted lenders. I am grateful for the last loan fund which has brought a great difference after the extension of my business which has enabled me to pay school fees well for this year and even support the orphans that I have. Though your support I afford a thousand smiles.’

If you want to help another borrower witness a thousand smiles in their community, head on over to our Lend page to read more inspiring stories.