It All Started With a $3 Loan

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Kioko Kimau was born in Makueni county, Kenya, in 1974. As a child, he spent his afternoons and weekends tending to his father’s cattle. This allowed him to develop a strong work ethic which he carried with him through school. Eventually, this led him to move to Nairobi where he attended College. He proudly shares that in school he was always good at football and singing folk songs.

Kioko has created a simple cereal shop primarily selling beans and maize. His offerings are somewhat seasonal and vary throughout the year. He’s found that being in the cereals business is wise as these are foods that people eat regularly. After paying  business expenses such as, business permits, transport, rent, and electricity he is able to use his profits to take care of his family, pay school fees for his children, and even save for the future.

Kioko serves as a great example of the saying, ‘A little goes a long way.’ In fact, his first 4 Zidisha funded loans were all under $20. For example, he obtained two loans in quick succession in July and August 2017, both for $3. With the July loan, he purchased a bag of maize and then set aside the profits to pay Zidisha. Shortly after, with his August loan he bought another bag of maize for his cereals shop and used the profits for his family upkeep.

He then obtained a second loan in August, for $7, and was able to purchase a bag of beans as his stock had been depleted. With this loan, he was excited, knowing that the profits would allow him to pay the school fees for his daughter! And indeed, that’s what happened. On August 23, Kioko shared on his discussion page, ‘Hi guys thanks a lot for your trust in me and lending me your money, the last loan has helped me in my cereals shop business boost and made me get an extra profit which I will use in family upkeep.’

Then, in September 2017, he requested two more Zidisha funded loans. One for $17 and the next for $58. These loans were also used to increase his stock of beans for his shop. He envisioned that through selling this stock, he would have the funds to expand his business. Kioko had his eyes set on adding soda to his shop lineup. Afterward, Kioko shared, ‘Hi my good lenders thanks once again for your trust in me and your support, the last loan I bought a bag of beans for my cereals shop and I sold all of the beans in a very short time and the profit I got used to pay my daughter school fees, the loan has helped me in both family upkeep and business boost.’

Remaining consistent, in December 2017, Kioko raised another $141 from lenders to vastly increase his stock of beans. He noted that during the December festival season beans are in high demand!

Kioko recently shared with lenders, ‘Hi, my lenders thanks very much for your loan which I invested in beans stock and the profit has enabled me to pay my daughters school fees for term one am happy for you. With your loans my life has changed to the better, with the beans business is good. Thanks.’

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So far, in his time with Zidisha, Kioko has obtained 6 loans. Amazingly, all 6 loans combined, amount to a mere, $229. Regardless of how much or how little you have to give, remember that Kioko started with a $3 loan. I think it’s also not just about the number behind the dollar sign. Whether you can give, $3 or $300, you are doing more than giving financially. You are also telling that borrower, ‘I believe in you’ which is often just as powerful as the loan itself.

Would you like to impact the life of another entrepreneur like, Kioko? Make sure to check out our Lend page to read about other business owners that need your help and support.

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