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.
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.’
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.’
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.