Being An Entrepreneur Has Improved My Life

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 2.28.51 PM

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Jesper Kumuhuza grew up in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, where his father worked as a truck driver for a Catholic mission. Jesper shares, ‘It was not an easy job for my dad to educate six children from the income he got from his job as a driver. We used to walk about 10 kilometers from and to school every weekday with my siblings and a few friends.’

While not easy, Jesper managed to work hard and completed his high school education as he says, ‘Attaining education in the village was challenging as there were a lot of hurdles that I faced personally and as a family. It was through my determination and hard work that I managed to pull through to grade 12. Despite the hardships I went through, I scored good results and got accepted at the University of Zambia.’

Jesper loves the town of Chipata and explains that it is a good place to live as there are good business opportunities, it is developing at a high rate, and it is also a border town.

Jesper 5

As he reflects on his life he shares that, ‘From college, I learnt that life/education is not about getting a job only, but changing the environment. I believe in a poverty-free community. I want to plant a good environment for my children, family and community; hence I started my own business. One thing that has helped me to overcome my challenges in life and pull through is because I am super focused, determined and organized on what I believe in and what is good for my life and the community I live in.’

While he certainly stays busy as an entrepreneur, he also loves reading and researching in his free time as he enjoys surfing the internet and staying up to date with the world.

Currently, Jesper runs his own poultry business of 300 chickens. Typically, he purchases small chicks from local sellers and then raises them as chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Zambia. Chicken is popular as it is affordable even on a small income.

Jesper 6

Jesper is able to sell a whole chicken for about $3.80. Through his business profits he is able to pay for his housing costs, bills, and food. The remaining profits are used to help care for his aging father and reinvestment into the business.

In the past two years, Jesper has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans with the help of lenders. With an initial loan of $176 in August 2016, Jesper expanded his business by purchasing additional feed, medicine, and chicks. Each bag of feed cost about $24.30 and each bottle of medicine was purchased for $17. He predicted that this kickstart would result in increased profits and the ability to hire an employee.

After witnessing the positive impact of his first Zidisha funded loan, Jesper was ready to expand to start off the new year in 2017! His second loan of $264 put him in a good position to purchase additional equipment as he had previously expanded his space. This loan provided for feeders and drinkers, costing $6 each. By this point, he also found that hiring an additional set of hands would be crucial to continue to grow. He hoped to hire someone part-time and then eventually be able to keep them on a permanent basis.

Jesper 8

Ready to take the next step in his business, Jesper set out to open a selling center for dressed chickens. And with a $529 loan from Zidisha lenders, he was ready to put his plan into action! He explains, ‘This is one of my expansions in the business as I look forward to a greater future. I am therefore going to use this loan to pay for rentals for the shop I will be using, which costs about $50 per month. I also wish to buy a small refrigerator costing about $300 that I will use in preserving the dressed chickens. I will also buy a butchery scale to use in selling the chickens. The scale costs about $100. Among the things I need to purchase for this new project are plastic bags for our customers also.This will help us increase profit and sales because now we will be able to sell even chicken pieces to people who cannot manage to buy a full chicken.’

Most recently, in June 2018, Jesper secured his largest loan yet, of $615 to purchase a motorbike for transportation. Jesper found that transporting his poultry from the production facility to the market was proving to be a big challenge. He had tried hiring a van but found this option to be quite expensive at $10 per trip. In a single month this was amounting to $100 in transportation costs.

He explains the benefits as he shares, ‘The motorbike will help me to transport the chickens from the poultry to the market on a daily basis. It will be less costly to transport the chicken with the bike as it has low fuel consumption and maintenance is affordable. The bike will also help me to deliver chickens to customers’ homes. Some customers prefer calling for chickens to be delivered to their homes hence the motorbike will help a lot in this area.

Jesper 4

For Jesper, becoming an entrepreneur and a member of the Zidisha community has been life-altering as he proudly expresses, ‘Being an entrepreneur has improved my life. I have learnt alot and continue to learn more. Being independent and financially stable is what I have always aimed for and surely through this route (entrepreneurship) I will live my dreams sooner than later. Thank you always to the lenders on Zidisha for the great support.’

Would you like to improve the life of an entrepreneur like Jesper? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring business owners!

A Never Say Die Spirit

Nicholas N 3

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Nicholas Nyongesa might have grown up in an environment that did not consider education important, but that didn’t deter him in the slightest! As he opened his mind to the power of education, he flourished, and even received a government scholarship to University. He shares that, ‘After my university education the entrepreneurial spirit within me arose and I started a data collection business where I could walk in the targeted places to interview the respondents on behalf of my clients undertaking research.’

Like many entrepreneurs, he’s also discovered the power of diversifying and maintaining multiple income streams as he also supplies stationery and food stuffs to nearby schools. In the future, he hopes that he can continue to grow and explore other markets. In addition to running his business, Nicholas also enjoys spending time with his young son who has dreams of becoming a pilot someday. As a lifelong learner, Nicholas also loves reading entrepreneurial books in his spare time.

Nicholas began working with Zidisha lenders back in July 2017 and has since successfully raised 7 loans. Starting small, his first $34 loan enabled him to purchase a bag to carry his stationary and data collection materials. This allowed him to transport and deliver lots of materials at the same time.

The following month, in August 2017, he raised his second loan, this one for $51. Like many of his fellow borrowers, purchasing items in small quantities was limiting his ability to grow. With this loan he started purchasing printing papers in bulk. This specific batch of papers was used to print field questionnaires for a client that he was working with. He shares, ‘From this engagement, my business will be able to earn an extra profit due to efficiency as opposed to previous encounters where I was purchasing in small quantities.’

An important way that Zidisha lenders often help borrowers is through loans helping them to bring tools and services in house. For example, prior to working with Zidisha, many borrowers must outsource things like printing, because they don’t have their own printers. This was exactly the case with Nicholas. Fortunately, through his next loan, of $108, he was able to purchase his own printer for his business. Previously, outsourcing printing services had been a major cost for him and with this change he predicted that his profit margin would double!

Nicholas N

On September 17, 2017, Nicholas proudly shared with Zidisha lenders, ‘thanks to my Zidisha lenders for making my dream a reality, your loan has made my business more efficient and customers more satisfied which has in turn doubled my profit margin due to clients trust. I look forward for your continued support. Once again thank you.’

Shortly thereafter, in November, 2017, Nicholas requested his next loan of $247, as he shares, ‘The last loan helped me to make more profit and as a result hired a new staff who requires a laptop as a tool for his work. The laptop will cost USD $370. This will enable my employee work efficiently and thus boost my business performance with expected returns doubling. Once the income increases the business will expand more with new other staff being employed with the aim of reducing the unemployment rate in the neighborhood. I therefore request my lenders to kindly help not only to achieve my business goal but also offer quality services to my clients in an efficient way and also offer employment to the youths.’

As Nicholas continued to grow with his business, he was faced with new and bigger problems. By February 2018, this was true as he had outgrown his office space. Not having enough room for his employee and clients, he found himself scrambling and getting creative by meeting with clients in hotels or rented boardrooms. Of course, he knew that this wouldn’t serve well as a long-term solution. Fortunately, with the help of a $485 Zidisha loan, he was able to solve this problem and procure additional office space.

With office space secured, the next step was purchasing office furniture for the space. Through a $846 loan from Zidisha lenders, Nicholas was able to purchase new tables and chairs. He further explains, ‘The furniture will give value to my business so that the bargaining power and confidence to the client is achieved. This will also increase the business profit by 40% from the current profit. With the new furniture also my working efficiency and effectiveness is expected to be enhanced as a result of a better working environment.’

Nicholas N 2

Most recently, Nicholas raised his largest loan yet, $1,291 to purchase a motorcycle. As he often needs to travel from location to location for data collection work, he found himself spending a lot of money on transportation services which were eating away at his profits. Having a vehicle of his own would solve this problem.

On October 18, 2018, Nicholas shared this exciting update on his discussion page, ‘I used the loan to purchase office furniture. This has enhanced the business work environment which in turn enhanced work efficiency. There has been also increased income due to confidence in clients when they visit the office location. There has been a 30% increase in income which I have used to employ a new staff to help enhance efficiency further for the increased clients. It is expected that with your continued support I will be able to employ more youths and also help pay school fees for the bright but needy students in my neighborhood.’

For Nicholas, his dream and vision for the future is much larger than just making money. He also dreams of continuing to impact the youth in his community in big ways, as he shares, ‘With your continued support I will be able to grow the business at the same time extend my hand to the less privileged within my area of reach especially to school going children who cannot raise school fees. This is in the spirit that education is the key to success and also opens doors where it seems impossible. I lack words to express my gratitude. Thank you’

Because of lenders like you, Nicholas is seeing his dream materialize right before his eyes! Would you like to help another entrepreneur do the same? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to help make this happen!