By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Regina Mary Ndegwa comes from a large family, as the second child in a family of eight people. Growing up in such a big family meant that her parents didn’t have the funds to pay for school fees for all of the children. This led Regina to start working at an early age doing odd jobs to help support her younger brothers and sisters.
Working as a “tea girl” in a local primary school, Regina was able to save up some money to start the business that she is currently running today, selling clothing. She shares, ‘I would want to see my children grow to become successful people who shall make a difference in other people’s lives. Besides working, I love taking a nature walk, meeting new friends and reading magazines during my free time.’
In her business, Regina sells both new and secondhand clothing for both women and children. When starting in business, she began by selling only secondhand clothing. This was because most people in her community could not afford to purchase new clothes, but they still wanted to look nice and put together. However, things have started to shift, as demand is slowly increasing for new clothing.
Regina first discovered Zidisha in 2015, and began with a $50 loan from Zidisha lenders. This allowed her to take the leap into adding men’s clothing to her store! She shares, ‘I intend to use the loan given to improve my stock, to start selling men’s clothes to enable me to capture a wider market and in the end realize more profits. Later on as the business grows, I intend to be importing my own stock in order to increase the profit margin and open other branches and create employment to other citizens as well.’
Since that initial loan, Regina has been able to successfully raise 6 additional Zidisha funded loans ranging from $120 to over $1,000. Each loan, enabling her to take her business to greater heights.
A few short months after coming alongside Zidisha, Regina was ready for her second loan. With $120 from lenders, she set out to increase her inventory with a bale of head gears to match her ladies clothing, half a bale of jackets and trench coats, and a few pairs of track suits.
As Regina continued to run her business, she learned more and more about her customers likes and dislikes. One key piece of insight that she gained was that women prefer the convenience of one stop shopping. Therefore, she decided to add hand bags to her shop stock. With a loan of $262 from Zidisha lenders, she predicted that this would result in a 20% increase in profits.
By October 2015, Regina found that she was getting requests from customers for cosmetics and hair products. Therefore, she planned to give it a go, adding cosmetics, braids, weaves, and hair jelly to her inventory.
Over the following two years, Regina found her business growing and growing until she decided that her next step would be to open another location. Doing this would require a significant upfront investment of $1,000 for rent, a deposit, an annual license from the city council, a room partition, and of course, new stock! Fortunately, the Zidisha community provided her with the loan that she needed to make this dream a reality.
For Regina, an added bonus was that opening this new shop would allow her to create employment for two of her fellow Kenyans!
As of 2019, Regina is continuing to thrive and recently received a $1,116 loan from Zidisha lenders to start offering embroidery services! With the loan, she was able to purchase all of the necessary equipment including: an embroidery machine, embroidery hoop, embroidery floss, scissors, fabric, and needles, lights, table, and a chair. With the embroidery machine, she can now offer services embroidering school uniforms, company uniforms, table matts, and even curtains.
On Feb 26, 2019, Regina was eager to share this encouragement and gratitude with her Zidisha lenders, ‘Hello Lenders. Just a word of thank you for your continued support. It’s because of your helping hand that me and my family can now see our dreams coming true. Thanks a lot.’
As an innovative entrepreneur, Regina always has her eye on the future, thinking about how she can grow her business and continue to best serve the community members that she loves!
Would you like to help a creative entrepreneur pursue their dream? Head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring business owners like Regina.