Venturing Into New Industries

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

By day, James Wambugu is a Kenyan IT professional, but on weekends and evenings, he’s a busy entrepreneur with a love for the farming industry. In his day job, he works as an IT officer with a logistics company. At the same time, he is also exploring businesses in both indigenous chicken rearing and transportation.

He shares that, ‘I was brought up in a rural setting, where indigenous chicken was reared as a hobby as opposed to a commercial venture. I am venturing in the transport industry which has a lot of potential and at the same time rearing indigenous chicken at my rural home.’

To maintain his transportation business, he currently operates two motorbikes as taxi’s  purchased through loans from Zidisha lenders! He receives $7 USD everyday from his 2 riders. The remaining profits are put towards fuel, maintenance, and wages. In the future, he hopes to add a third motorbike to his business, which he predicts would boost his daily profit to $11 USD a day.

James explains, ‘My dream is to have 10 Motorbikes that will give me 30 USD per day, then make them 20 motorbikes, and eventually buy a mini-bus for passenger transportation.’

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Since joining Zidisha in 2014, James has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans and maintains a 97% repayment rate, which is exceptionally high.

With his initial loan of $150, James purchased the raw materials to build a perimeter fence around his compound for his chickens. These materials included: ‘chain link wire, fencing posts, nails, and labor.’ This loan made a positive impact in two ways. First, this allowed him to reduce the cost of purchasing feed as he only needed to buy supplementary commercial feeds. Second, this fenced in his chickens, preventing them from disrupting his neighbors.

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Later in 2014, James was able to raise his second Zidisha funded loan. This second one, in November, was for $297. Most importantly, James was able to significantly expand his number of chickens, buying 50 additional day old chicks. The remainder of the loan was put towards expanding his chicken coop to allow for the new additions as well as towards four months worth of commercial feeds.

By May 2015, James was excited to update his Zidisha lenders regarding his progress, ‘Dear Lenders. Thank you so much for your faith in me. Your loans have been put into good use, and am happy to tell you that my flock is now expanding. I have attached a photo of part of my flock for you to see how your loan has helped me. I expect this flock to start laying eggs in August or September.’

The following year, in November 2016, James found himself ready for a third Zidisha loan. This time he was ready to turn his attention to the transportation business. With $70 of his own savings, he requested $394 from Zidisha lenders to help purchase his bike.

He shares his confidence as he says, ‘I am guaranteed that this is a workable business, since am already doing it and reaping the benefits.’

The following year, in 2017, he raised his largest loan yet of $691 from lenders. As James began to see the success of his transportation business, he felt that it was worth investing in a second motorbike. With this fourth loan, he purchased a second motorbike and shared his appreciation with lenders as he commented, ‘Thank you lenders for your faith in me. You have funded this loan in 30 minutes. It says a lot about the trust you have in my willingness and ability to repay. I will not let you down. ‘

On Dec 26, 2018, James was proud to update his lenders on his discussion page as he shared, ‘Dear Lenders, Thank you so much for the trust you showed in me by lending me your money. I was able to buy a new motorbike and its now operational. My income increased from 3 USD to 7 USD per day. God bless you all. Looking forward to your continued support.’

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With a day job, two Zidisha funded businesses, and a wife and two daughters, James has a full life. Plus, when he has free time he loves watching football with friends. In fact, he is a self-described, ‘diehard fan of Arsenal FC.’

Would you like to impact a business owner like James? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to learn more!

Forward We Move

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Bede Tebino was born into a humble family in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. When he was in high school and waiting to attend college, his father passed away. This forced him to start looking for a job immediately. Fortunately, after finding a job, he was able to save the money to attend university, where he earned a degree in Finance. After graduating, he got a good job as a Marketer. Sadly, the company was later forced to downsize, leaving Bede without a job.

Bede explains, ‘It was at this point that I chose to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, carrying out my own business ventures, to date. My current business is a combination of entertainment and essential service provision. I sell movies, both new and classic, which I purchase from distributors for resale to clients. Demand for this was realized on seeing that people undergo a lot of stress in modern society and seek an escape such as watching an appealing movie to relieve their stress. I also charge phones at a fee. With everyone having a smartphone that is always out of charge, I found it essential to provide a secure environment to provide this service. I am also currently running a small cyber cafe, whose demand is growing and prompts me to respond by increasing capacity to satisfy demand. I believe that our increased capacity will give us a platform to have a positive impact on our immediate environment by enlightening the community on basic computer training and the world wide web in general.’

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In his business, Bebe’s typical costs include: rent, staff wages, stock purchases electricity bills, and general maintenance. With his profits, he is able to pay his son’s school fees, help friends and relatives, and help support the children in the village so that they can go to school.

Since Bede is surrounded by technology in his daily work, one of his favorite hobbies is appreciating nature. He loves growing plants and he also has animals as well.

Bede shares the difference that his business has made in the community as he explains to lenders, ‘I am happy to report that our cyber cafe has been a welcome idea in our community whereby we are able to teach some basic computing to many whom we realize do not know how to use a desktop computer yet own smartphones. We are opening up a whole new world for such, and bringing services closer for others.’

So far, in his time with Zidisha, Bede has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans. His first loan of $150 was raised in August 2015 and this loan equipped him with the necessary capital to purchase additional stock of movies. With the remainder of the loan, he shared that he would purchase a sign for better visibility and advertising his business.

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The following year, in 2016, Bede secured his next loan, this time for $298. This time, he hoped that he would be able to pay for repairs on his 7 seater van. Having multiple streams of income, Bede also used his van to transport goods as well as people. With the loan he was able to pay for the following repairs: shock absorbers, suspension bushes, torsion bar, ball joints, tie rod ends, wheel balancing, wheel alignment, and labor costs.

On Jun 11, 2016 Bebe shared his thanks with his lenders, ‘Hi team. I trust that you are all well. As we continue working to better our lives, I wish to thank you so much for the boost.’

By July of 2016, Bede was ready for another loan to make some changes in his business. With $512 from lenders, his first goal was to have his van inspected by the government authorities. After that, he was prepared to set up an office solutions shop. Knowing that there was only one similar shop in the area, he predicted that this would be a great addition to his entrepreneurial arsenal. He hoped to cater to institutions such as hospitals and schools as well as to students. He planned to provide a higher level of service than the competition by being more efficient and adding lamination, binding, typing, printing, and web browsing.

For his fourth Zidisha funded loan, in 2017, Bede was able to raise, $980 from his loyal lenders. He divided the funds between technical items, including a back up power genset, voltage protection, and also branding and advertising materials.

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By April 30, he was excited to share an update with lenders, ‘I apologize for the silence but I have been working on expanding my business recently. After purchase of the photocopier, I witnessed demand for other complimentary services and went for it! I used the profit proceeds from the business and got some financial assistance from my elder brother and managed to start a cyber cafe. I shall send you photos of the set up as it is. We are now able to provide browsing services as well as photo printing services with a new color printer that we also managed to secure during this expansion. We are now up and running with only 3 desktops for the cyber and hope to increase them to 6 within the next 4 months or so as we recover financially. Many thanks as always for your support. I am putting my best efforts towards utilizing the funds in the best way possible to make the most returns for the benefit of my family, employees and society at large.’

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As 2018 came to a close, Bede shared an update and holiday greetings with his lenders, ‘I wish to express my utmost and sincere thanks for all you have done for this Zidisha borrower team. I also wish to report positive growth in my business. I am happy to report that I have grown in terms of customer numbers and therefore employed a young lady to assist. In this way, am happy to have grown personally with my family and also grown my community by employing a youth member, helping her improve her life as well. Forward we move, and my promise to you is diligent use of my loans, now and in the future, for the prosperity of self, family and community at large!’

Would you like to impact another entrepreneur and community like Bede has? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to meet our other inspiring Zidisha business owners!

Boosting Her Income and Her Impact

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Phibi Mwasi describes herself as a ‘hardworking woman with a sharp focus on raising her kids by providing them with a quality education as well as securing their future.’ Born and raised in Taita county, near the coast of Kenya, she received her college education in Mombasa where she studied Hospitality.

After finishing her studies, she got a job working in a transport firm. She continued to work there until 2010 when she quit to pursue livestock farming. She explains, ‘I decided to quit my formal employment to break the monotony of doing routine work day in and day out.’

When she started with Zidisha, she had been in business for 5 years and had purchased a parcel of land with her savings from her previous employment. She first saw the need when she realized that her neighbors were limited to purchasing processed milk which was both expensive and treated with preserving chemicals. Therefore, by providing fresh milk in her community, she would be offering an important solution.

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At the time, her herd consisted of 4 cows, resulting in a monthly income of $650. In addition, her monthly expenses amounted to $350 leaving her with a profit of $300 a month which she used to support her family.

Since then, with the help of Zidisha lenders, Phibi has secured 5 loans ranging from $100 to $823. These loans have been instrumental in allowing her to build and invest in her business. January 2015 was when Phibi raised her first loan of $100. Her purpose for this loan was to buy a water tank to harvest rainwater. The tank would cost around $400, but fortunately, she had already been saving little by little. The $100 from Zidisha lenders would be just what she needed to help fund her project. Phibi explains the project as she shares, ‘I do my farming activity in an area where we experience two rainy seasons which last for about 3 months each. We experience a dry spell in between the seasons and we rely on rain water for our farming since there is not piped water in our homes. We normally buy water from vendors during the dry spells. This makes our operations very expensive and sometimes the vendors supply contaminated water which make the cows sick hence affecting the milk production.’

One of the challenges of entrepreneurship is that as soon as you solve one problem, another one quickly pops up, as was the case for Phibi. Once she had her water tank in place, she needed to turn her attention to her next problem which was feeding the cows during the dry spells. Even though she grew her own hay, it was on a smaller scale than what she needed to feed her cows. Therefore, for her next loan, she approached lenders requesting $187, which she successfully raised to purchase larger quantities of hay to last through the dry spell.

She says, ‘If given this credit, I will be able to buy 3 tonnes of hay for a total price of USD 200. This will last for three months which is enough to cover the dry spell period. By so doing I will save a lot (economy of scale) and ensure continuous feeding of my cows which are my main source of income. Thank you and please support my course.’

As Phibi saw the success of her dairy business, she decided to venture out and try something new. She began by starting a small vegetable garden and then started keeping chickens on a small scale. By April 2016, she was prepared to scale up both of these exciting projects. First, she requested $364 from lenders and used these funds to double her farming area. Second, she used the remainder of the loan to increase her number of chickens from 50 to 200. She humbly shares, ‘This cash injection will go a long way in improving my cash flow which will definitely mean a better life for my family.’

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On April 11, 2016, Phibi proudly shared this update on her discussion board, ‘Through Zidisha loans, I have been able to expand my farming business. Apart from my dairy cows, I have managed to start a vegetable farming and poultry project and both are doing well. Thank you so much for the much needed support.’

By the end of 2016, Phibi was proud of her massive progress in her business. At the time she had 200 chickens and also raised $545 from lenders to increase that number from 200 to 500! She was excited to see this large increase as she found herself with an ever increasing number of buyers.

Her largest loan yet, of $823 was raised in September 2017. At the time she shared, ‘My farming is going on well and I am glad my customers are equally growing exponentially. Demand for dairy and poultry and produce has gone up in recent times due to high growth of the population in my area. To address this demand, I want to lease more land and put it under cultivation. I have identified one acre of land which is not far from my place and this will cost me around USD 600 for three years. I need to use the remaining balance to prepare the land, buy fertilizer and seeds. I want to continue with my horticulture farming since I am well established in this area and there is a high demand for the same.’

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Following this loan, Phibi expressed her appreciation for her lenders and their support as she shared, ‘Thank you lenders for your unwavering support. You have never let me down and similarly I will return the favor by working hard and repaying as scheduled. This loan will enable me expand my farming activities hence boost my income.’

Would you like to impact an entrepreneur like Phibi? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read other stories of our inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs.

Empowering the Women of Kenya

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Rita Andeyo Enane saw a problem and wanted to be part of the solution! While she had grown up in Western Kenya, she moved to Nairobi as a teenager but still returned to her hometown with her two sons over holidays. She explains, “It always pained me to see how poor folks at home were, yet they had big farms. I desired so much to try and help change their lives.”

Therefore, once her sons finished primary school, she set about to help! She began by resigning from her job and moving back home to create a business in the farming sector. To start, she leased out farms and planted vegetables, cereals, and sugarcane. Then, she would sell what she grew to a middleman.

But, she didn’t stop there. She also reared indigenous chickens and would sell them to hotels in towns nearby. Rita shares a fun memory that, ‘They actually came to my village to buy the chicken and vegetables in their hotel cars and this surprised folks at home. Slowly I encouraged them to keep chicken and plant vegetables for cash and not only subsistence. My dream has always been to create employment and empower the rural woman.”

Now, Rita is currently living out her dream of creating jobs as she has 1 permanent employee and 4 part-time workers. She explains, “The journey has been tough, not to mention fighting tradition and illiteracy, but the struggle continues. Financing from banks has been depressing and I believe Zidisha community will help me continue to put smiles on my village folk faces and myself.”

Currently in her business, Rita is farming sugarcane, beans, and vegetables. In addition, the chickens that she raises are used for both meat and eggs. She shares that, “Chicken is a delicacy in western Kenya and is the main meal cooked for an important guest. Eggs are a cheap source of food.”

Rita continues to find success with chicken as it’s a faster source of income compared to sugarcane, beans, and vegetables, which are seasonal. Eventually, she hopes to purchase her own incubator!

Even though Rita is relatively new to the Zidisha community, she is already making big strides! In November and December, she was able to raise 3 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $1 to $41. Her first loan of $1 and her second loan of $19 were both used to purchase nipple drinkers for her chickens. This would help to reduce water contamination and prevent diseases. She also explains that refilling water drinkers can be hectic.

A month later, in December 2018, she raised her third loan, this time for $41. This loan allowed her to buy PVC pipes and a tank to create her new water system. Rita describes the importance of this as she shares, “With a good water system in place, my profits will increase because I will cut down on money spent on treating chicken. The coop remains clean, dry and hygienic hence minimum spread of diseases.”

On December 6, Rita shared this inspiring update on her discussion page, “You have really given me hope in my business. It’s good to know there are great people standing with me. From my profits I had ordered some fifty 1 day old chicks which came in on the 1st. They are now 6 days old and doing great. The festive season has kind of began here and kukus (chickens) are in high demand. Thanks so much Paul and the entire Zidisha community for your great support.”

Through her partnership with Zidisha lenders, Rita has been able to alleviate so many of her previous concerns about the spread of diseases and clean conditions. With the extra hours that she has gained, rather than cleaning and changing water, she is now able to devote more time marketing her business and improving her farm.

Would you like to make a difference in the life of a female entrepreneur like Rita? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read about other inspiring business owners.