My Life Is Not the Same

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

If you were to travel to the town of Eldoret, Kenya, you might come across, Tonny Lukalo. And you’d know it was him because he has a contagious smile that seems to spread across his entire face. He also comes from a large family and is the eldest child in his family with 11 younger siblings! As a student, he attended Cheplaskei High School and later on pursued Horticultural courses at the Bukura Institute.

He currently has a farm with his wife but before discovering Zidisha, a lack of finances limited their ability to grow and expand the farm. He’s also hoping to change the perception of farming that people have in his community as he shares, “Where I stay, people think that farming is meant for old or retired ones and you can’t get money for the whole family but for me it has really helped me feed and keep my children in school. One of my children wants to be a vet doctor.”

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When joining Zidisha in 2015, Tonny had been in the farming industry for 2 years and was planting vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. In his area, these foods are staples and are therefore always in demand throughout the community. He continues, “ I chose this kind of business because of high demand on the ground and in the community around us. It is also my passion to plant and sell for money so my family can have something to put on the table and to take them to school.”

Although his family and farm keep him pretty busy, when he has free time, he enjoys attending his church called, Living Rock church.

So far, with 6 Zidisha funded loans between January 2015 and September 2018, Tonny has been able to make some impressive changes to his business. With his initial $50 loan, he was able to purchase seeds and fertilizers that allowed him to expand his production. In his own words, “If this business grows it will be a great blessing to my family and create a job to others too.”

A few months later, in March 2018, he secured a second loan from lenders, this one for $98. This allowed him to keep expanding and to take care of his family through school fees for his children. At this point, he dreamed of saving up to add pigs to his farm! Seeing the success and benefit of his Zidisha partnership, he doubled his following loan to $188 in August 2015 to buy fertilizer and DAP for his business. With the remaining funds, he was also able to purchase two jembes, pay his son’s school fees, and even hired someone to help with weeding on his farm.

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Not only is Tonny able to supply fresh vegetables to his community but he’s also so proud that once in a while he is able to offer employment to one member of his town needing employment. And an added benefit is that he strives to make sure that half of the food that his family eats includes vegetables so that they grow up eating a healthy diet. He also foresaw this loan as having a 20% increase in his profit.

As the new year rolled around, Tonny received his next Zidisha funded loan of $384 from lenders and purchased a water pump, water pipe, and two bags of DAP, with the remaining funds paying the remainder of his son’s tuition.

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The following year, in March 2017, Tonny was ready to keep expanding the farm with another loan of $384. This allowed him to purchase DAP fertilizer, CAN fertilizer, seeds, and knapsack sprayer. The rest of the loan helped him to pay his farm rent, at a cost of $180.

Sharing this important season with lenders he mentions, “It’s planting season in Eldoret and the farm will give me 20 percent profit. Also, it will help my family and the community to have food.”

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Recently, in September 2018, Tonny was able to secure a sixth Zidisha funded loan for $433, his largest yet! He shares his vision and dream as he explains, “Hi Zidisha family, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Zidisha family in helping me realize the dream of my farm. With this loan I will buy a second hand motor bike that will cost 400 dollars, the bike will help in transporting my farm produce to the market. About 18% of the cost is used in transporting my produce to the market and farm inputs to the farm. Since the fuel prices have gone up the transport cost will be much higher so with the motor bike I will reduce the cost of production.”

On September 4, 2018, Tonny took to his discussion page to share this update with his lenders, “My last loan was of great help I bought the generator that increased my profit by 20%. The increment that I got, I used to add one employee to help on the farm and I was able to help the needy children with vegetables once every week. The last holiday I went to the rural home with my family. Thanks Zidisha.”

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One of the most inspiring aspects of the lender/borrower relationship at Zidisha, is that growth is inevitable for both parties, this is one of the reasons why Zidisha is so unique. The process stretches you and for the lender it forces you to trust your financial resources with another person. And, as the borrower, there is a great responsibility to make your lenders (and family) proud by using your resources well.

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Tonny is one of those borrowers that has continued to grow and thrive throughout his time with Zidisha as he expresses his gratitude, “Hi Zidisha family am very happy to be part of you. My life is not the same, I am able to do things that was hard for me in the past, my family is able to have food thanks to Zidisha.”

Would you like to make a difference in a family like Tonny’s? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring entrepreneurs around the world!

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