A Creative Endeavor

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mercy Jowi was raised as the first born in a family of five. As she was growing up, she gained some entrepreneurial experience as she worked in the family business, which was a bookshop.

However, before venturing into business as an adult, she first started as a teacher of ICT and Computer Studies. She spent 7 years as a teacher but realized that she wanted to pursue self-employment and she desired to pursue her love for graphic design. To put her dream into action, she started by enrolling in a design course and worked for a year as a Junior Graphic Designer in a design firm where she gained valuable experience.

Because of her past experience working in the family business Mercy shares, ‘”Getting into business almost came naturally for me. In 2014 I opened a stationery shop and did graphic design on the side. I used gratuity that I got from my job as a teacher. It was $1500 that I used as my capital.’

In her stationary shop, Mercy offers school, office, and personalized items. Since starting her business she has been able to diversify her products and has moved to a larger office space. She’s even added an MPESA as well, and Equity and Co-operative Bank Agency Banking.

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Within her sector, most of her items are in season year round, however, her sales are best during the school year, which accounts for 9 months out of the year.

In addition to her many gifts in business and design, Mercy is also a woman of many talents in her personal life. She is a gifted cook and likes to refer to herself as a “Chapati Specialist.” She also has a love for fashion and enjoys getting creative with thrifted, upcycled, and repurposed clothing. With each outfit, her goal is to have at least 5 different ways that she can style it.

Mercy describes how she chose her particular business idea as she says, ‘I chose selling stationery because the goods do not face the challenge of revision as textbooks which make one end with dead stock. Juices, milk and water was to meet the demand of customers who wanted alternative to sodas which are the popular soft drinks. The MPESA provided an ‘easy’ investment with capability to fit in the same premise without constrain in space. The costs I incur in running the business is rent, salary, watchman fees and electricity bills. This comes to Kshs. 19700 per month. Though there are also annual fees of licence and accountant fees.’

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With the money that she makes in her business, Mercy is able to continually reinvest in the business and also set a little aside for herself as she is currently working to build her own home!

Mercy has been with Zidisha for a little over 2 years and has been able to raise 7 loans from lenders ranging from $26 to $941. With her first 3 loans in 2017, Mercy was able to purchase whiteboard markers, exercise books, shorthand notebooks, and pens. She says, ‘The multiplier effect of reinvesting my profits will go a long way in growing my business.’

Since Mercy’s business is heavily influenced by the school cycle, by August 2017, she was in need of new inventory. As she received an $108 loan from Zidisha, this allowed her to stock up Oxford Mathematical sets. She shares, ‘This is a basic requirement for each candidate in class eight and form 4 who are going to sit for their examinations. The demand will be there and I would not want to be in a situation whereby I do not have enough sets in stock for my customers. On this loan I will add some little money so that I can get 2 cartons of the said sets. The profits I get in selling the sets will be used to stock more exercise books for the January 2018 school opening.’

As the end of 2017 rolled around, Mercy prepared to stock up on items for spring and also chose to start adding books to her product mix as well, using $658 from Zidisha lenders to help make it happen!

Mercy always likes to be well stocked and ahead of the competition as she says, ‘When I buy this early it means that when everyone will be buying at the last minute and finding much of the items out of stock, I shall already be having what I need. This means that my clients will find the items they require. ‘

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Most recently, Mercy successfully raised her largest loan to date, raising $941 in April, 2019. She explains, ‘My business has been growing and two banks approached me to offer their agency banking services. This is Equity Bank and Co-operative Bank. To be in a position to serve my clients well without disappointments of I do not have enough float or cash to honour their needs. I wish to apply for a loan to help in increasing my seed capital for the agency banking. With the introduction of the agency banking I will be able to make extra $120 per month in profits (commission). The profits (commission) will be ploughed back to the agency banks until I get to $1000 working capital.’

Would you like to be a part of helping an entrepreneur like Mercy along on their entrepreneurial journey? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read dozens of stories of inspiring Zidisha business owners.

I Salute You All

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Peter Wainaina grew up as the third child in a family of 6 and attended the local primary and secondary schools. Upon completing form 4, be began working in the teabushes as a “plucker” where he saved up enough money to attend the Kenya College of Commerce and Hospitality. As a student, he studied Computer Repair and Maintenance, and after receiving his diploma, he returned home and began farming.

Today Peter is able to operate both a livestock farming business and he also grows and sells avocados to exporters. Since he started with Zidisha in October, 2018, Peter has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans which have allowed him to pay school fees, buy feed for his livestock, fund transportation costs, and also purchase additional equipment.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know when and how to take risks or transition to something new. Many of our seasoned Zidisha at entrepreneurs will start one business and over time will move into a different business or even expand to run multiple businesses at once.

And this is exactly what Peter did, as he started in the livestock business and later on was able to add avocado farming to his business portfolio.

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Between October and November 2018, Peter was able to raise 4 loans ranging from $1 to $45, allowing him to pay school fees and also purchase feed for his livestock.

Then, as the new year rolled around, Peter reached out to lenders for a $65 loan, he shared, ‘Due to the high demand of milk in my local area, am hoping to raise my dairy farming. Am hoping to use this loan to purchase hay for my cows in order to be able to feed them well even in the dry period when there is scarcity of grass. Am also planning to deworm them after this period of high rain to keep production at a high level.’

The following month, in February, 2018, Peter went to the Zidisha community and requested a $285 loan to purchase a chaffcutter for his business for chopping the grass for his cows. He explained that currently he used a panga to cut grass, and unfortunately it can be cumbersome, wastes grass, and requires a lot of time and energy.  He knew that the chaffcutter would make his work much easier for him to prepare the grass for his cows and that it would also help him make silage, which would increase his overall milk production.

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For Peter, he is truly appreciative of the support and encouragement of his lenders and the Zidisha community. He shares, ‘I am very grateful for your presence. You really do a great job of assistance to those who are seriously in need of help. For me, were it not for you I doubt whether I could have managed to achieve my goals and also setting others. I thank you all for being there when I needed you most. God bless you.’

Most recently, in May, 2019, Peter shared that he’d received a big order for 15,000 avocados. With an additional loan, of $370 he would be able to increase his number of deliveries per week.

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On May 13, 2019, Peter went to his discussion page and expressed his sincere gratitude for having his loan funded as he said, ‘Am humbled by your generosity my lenders. Thank you so much for funding my loan.This amount of money will help me to supply my exporters with an additional of 5000 pieces of avocados per week. This supply in estimate will give me a profit of above 3kshs per piece of avocado supplied per week. Eagerly waiting disbursement. Thank you so much.’

For Peter, his next goal is to eventually purchase his own method of transportation to be able to transport his avocados on his own. He says to lenders, ‘I salute you all for this far you have made me go.’

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Would you like to support an inspiring entrepreneur like Peter? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read story after story of perseverance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shining a Light

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Patricia Soudi lives in Accra, Ghana and is a nurse, having just completed Nursing Training at the Mon Reve Nursing Institute. As she waits to be enrolled by the government, she also maintains a side hustle working with PEG Solar as their Direct Sales Representative (DSR) and working with Star Time alongside as their marketer.

As a single mother, she works hard to support herself and her son. Growing up, Patricia did not have an easy life. When her father lost his job, her mother was thrust into the sole of sole breadwinner for the family. But, rather than discouraging her, this was simply motivation for Patricia as she shares, ‘That did not even stop me from going forward. At age 12, I started working and taking and supporting my siblings. It is through that hard effort that I can call myself a nurse today.’

Within her large family of 7, Patricia says that they all love and support each other to go after their dreams. As a mother of a grade school son, she hopes to instill in him a belief that anything is possible and she will do her best to support him in his education.

In her free time, Patricia shares, ‘I enjoy reading, singing and cooking. I belong to the Assemblies of God musical group where I demonstrate my gift and talent in singing. People love it when I sing at church.’

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In her work as a Direct Sales Representative for PEG solar, Patricia goes from home to home in the surrounding villages and cities. She explains that, ‘In Ghana, most people are not privileged to have light in their homes and therefore PEG Solar is doing everything possible to help the less privileged Ghanaians so that everybody can have access to light. Light is among the basic necessities of life; therefore, it is very important to help everybody to have one. With Star Times, we make decoders very affordable to the people as compared to the ones in the market.’

Because she’s paid on commission, her payment is based on how many sales she’s been able to make by the end of the month. She believes that there is truly a high demand for solar as in many areas people do not have electricity.

Working on commission, Patricia has to think like an entrepreneur and have a strong drive to hustle. While it wasn’t easy at first, Patricia quickly realized that being successful would require some start up investments in herself and her business. Fortunately, as she discovered Zidisha, her loyal tribe of lenders helped her reach her goals.

With her first Zidisha funded loan of $196 in August 2016, Patricia was able to use the funds for transportation costs as her work required lots of travel to different villages and cities. With her profits, she hoped to pay her wards fees and also help establish her business.

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A few months later, by November 2017, Patricia decided that it was time set up her own shop for her sales work with Star Time. With a $477 loan from Zidisha lenders, she purchased inventory to sell decoders in her town. She also predicted that having a fixed location would allow her customers to start coming to her, and would require less transportation on her part.

As the new year rolled around, Patricia shared with lenders, ‘The sale of solar lanterns in Ghana is a lucrative business. Most remote places in Ghana do not have electricity, so I leverage on that to make solar light available in all villages in Ghana. I kindly need your support to stock solar kit for resale. The revenue gain will be used to cater for my son’s school fees and for our upkeep. I am doubly sure I could double my profit in this venture. Light is a necessity. ‘ With this, she gained $597 in financial support from the Zidisha community as she continued to work hard and make sales.

Now that Patricia is more established, Zidisha lenders have been a big support in enabling her to continue purchasing large quantities of inventory, that she wouldn’t necessarily be able to purchase on her own. Between October 2018 through March 2019, Patricia has raised 4 additional Zidisha funded loans ranging from $376 to $457.

Each solar kit that she purchases costs $260 and includes 3 bulbs, a solar panel, one torch light, and one solar radio.

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A home at night with light!

Through both of her businesses, Patricia is able to support herself, her son, and give him the education that did not come as easily to her.

Would you like to invest in the dreams of a business owner like Patricia? Feel free to head on over to Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspiring entrepreneurs at Zidisha.

 

 

 

 

A Style All His Own

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Simon Njenga was born and raised in the village of Githunguchu in Kenya. He worked his way through both primary and secondary school but shares that he certainly had a rough childhood. Fortunately, that was just the beginning of his story, with a future full of promise ahead of him. After finishing school, his older brother gave him $10 to start a business. With that $10 investment, he has now been able to keep his business going for the past 10 years.

Simon shares that his relationship with his customers is a big key to his success in business. By building long-term relationships, he has been able to build mutual trust. Through his business he is able to pay his children’s school fees and continue to re-invest in his business by continually adding more stock. In addition, he has also been able to improve his home and he shares, ‘most importantly,’ by providing shoes and clothing for a nearby children’s home.

Since Simon runs a shoes and clothing business, having enough stock on hand to meet the needs of his customers is a key ingredient of success. Since partnering with Zidisha in 2017, Simon has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans!

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With his first loan of $100 in September 2017, Simon was able to receive his loan just in time for the back to school demand, which is huge for him, being in the retail clothing business. During this time of year, he generally has an abundance of clothing orders from customers, which is great, but also requires additional up front capital.

With his following loan, of $198 in October 2017, he was set to add some specific items to his product mix, including converse shoes and mens jeans and shirts.

As the new year rolled around in January 2018, it was time for a surge in stock, as the local schools would be heading back into session, after the holidays. With a $344 loan from Zidisha lenders, Simon purchased a variety of black shoes as well as socks, as this is an item that most students need for school. He predicted that he would be able to make a profit of $2.50 on each pair of shoes sold.

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A few months later, with a loan of $413 from Zidisha lenders, Simon was able to add some additional clothing and shoes to his business stock. He focused on shoes, sports shoes, and baby shoes. After being in business for almost a decade, Simon had the advantage of knowing his business, customers, and what to have in stock for different seasons of the year.

While 2018 came to a close, Simon was ready for one of the busiest business seasons of the year. He was able to raise $455 in September and $323 in December, allowing him to add more goods of shoes and trousers to his stock.

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Most recently, in March 2019, Simon once again successfully raised $296 from lenders, putting him in a good financial position to add more mens and women’s shoes to his stock.

While Simon is a wonderful businessman on his own, it’s amazing the impact that he’s been able to make in his community since joining Zidisha. On May 5, 2019, he took to his discussion page and shared with lenders, ‘Good afternoon. It’s a good Sunday that I’m writing to thanks you for your support in my business. My business has been good since you started support in me. Thanks in advance.’

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Simon with his children

Not only has business been good for Simon, but he’s also been able to make an incredible impact by supporting the local children’s home and providing them with shoes!

Would you like to help an entrepreneur like Simon impact his or her own community? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects page to read about our other incredible business owners around the world!