Rich in Natural Resources

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ulrich Yaw Soudi is a dynamic man from Ghana. Working hard, he balances his studies as a Business Administration student with his work as a business owner. Ulrich is certainly a happy soul as he shares, ‘I belong to a family of six and we are a happy people. I can not say we are rich but I can’t complain of anything. Everything we need God provides it all.’

As a student, he takes classes online through the University of Malaysia, also called, The Open University of Malaysia (OUM). He has 5 tutorial sessions per trimester and his assignments are done online.

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Ulrich with his lovely wife.

 

While being a student might be a large enough workload in itself, Ulrich is also a multi-passionate entrepreneur. He explains, ‘ I have a business that I run and we offer secretarial services and a café which is beginning to grow and we are in the growth stage in business. I am doing my best to run a competitive business so that my business can withstand competition. The business I am into is mushrooming everywhere because of its demand therefore success in this industry requires more creative and innovative ideas.’ Within his business, his services consist of: photocopy, binding books, lamination, typing, printing, designing, and scanning.’ In addition, he also sells scratch cards for telephone companies.

Not wanting to put all of his eggs in one basket, Ulrich also operates a second business where he provides money transfers and is a Fidelity bank agent. He explains, ‘It is our responsibility to open, deposit and withdraw money for Fidelity customers that come to the office. Most call it Agency Banking. It is aimed at the less fortunate and illiterate people who do not have the ego to go to the main branches where much paper work is required. This helps them to learn the habit to save and operate a Bank account. These businesses came into existence through hard work and the heart to help humanity and to earn my living.’

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With his business earnings, he is able to expand his businesses and also pay for his education. For Ulrich, one of his greatest joys is to be able to provide employment for the youth in his community to allow them to provide for themselves.

With his business, he believes that he has a strategic advantage being located near schools and also close to the district hospital. Ulrich says that in the past, one of his biggest barriers to succeeding in business has been a lack of capital, and now that he is part of the Zidisha community, he’s been able to overcome this challenge.

Ulrich starting partnering with Zidisha in 2016, and has successfully raised 9 Zidisha funded loans, starting with a $129 loan in October 2016, and most recently raising $1,821 from lenders in 2019.

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Ulrich hard at work.

With 4 Zidisha funded loans in 2017, Ulrich was able to make some big improvements to his businesses including, ‘a new instant photo printer, a new set of toner, photo papers, improved signage, and office furniture.’ He also saw an opportunity to do some farming on the side, using his third and fourth loans of 2017 to acquire farming tools to start growing, ‘cabbage, lettuce, sweet pepper, and cucumbers.’

With his sixth Zidisha funded loan, in February 2018 for $758, Ulrich shared with lenders, ‘I have been in the printing and designing industry for the past five years and saw tremendous breakthroughs financially and wish to upgrade the business by acquiring sophisticated machinery for my printing work. I had two copier machines. One black and white and the other colored. Unfortunately, the colored machine broke down, and I spent so much to repair it but it was not successful and so was advised by an expert to acquire a new one. So I kindly need your assistance financially to acquire another Canon ImageRunner C5045i Photocopier. The cost of the used Canon is $900.00 but I will top up for the difference.’

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Most recently, Ulrich has also been able to add cellphones to the list of products that he offers in his store. With his 3 loans in late 2018 and early 2019, he has been able to stock up on IPhones, Samsungs, and other smartphones.

Ulrich would like the world to know that the Ghanaian people are loving, hospitable, and sociable and that many unique cultures make up Ghana. Ulrich also notes that Ghana has a myriad of natural resources and that the government and citizens are working hard to utilize the resource that they have to eradicate poverty throughout the country. And when Ulrich has free time from studying, farming, and working on his businesses, you can usually find him singing, talking, and hanging out with friends.

Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Ulrich? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners all over the world.

 

Zidisha Came To My Rescue

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

James Chege was raised in a small village in Central Kenya, where he started his education at the local primary school before moving on to secondary school at Thika High School. After graduation, he went went on to study Aircraft Maintenance at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, receiving a certificate in Engine and Airframe.

This led to a job in a local maintenance firm. Unfortunately, even with a job, James says that life in Nairobi was a struggle, as he shares, ‘In Nairobi life was so difficult for me considering the salary was too little for my needs. At some point I decided to live in the slums because good rooms were so expensive to rent. So I moved to Dandora slums. I even went a step further to walking half distance to work and half by bus.I had to sacrifice with an aim of getting enough skills in workshop jobs, maintenance work and electronics diagnosis.’

By early 2015, James was still struggling and felt certain that it was time for him to go out on his own and become an entrepreneur. He felt that he had the skills to get him started so he returned to his village, where he mother provided him with a small room to set up his own workshop.

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James out on a job.

James shares that, ‘Life was so hard trying to establish myself until ZIDISHA came to my rescue where I got a loan to rent a big workshop in our local shopping center where I have grown steadily. Thanks to all Lenders.’

Some of his typical business expenses include: 70 USD a year for a business license, 50 USD a month for rent, and 120 USD for wages for his employees. With his profit he is able to continually re-invest in his business, while also helping to support his parents and younger sister. In addition, he has also been putting funds towards construction materials for the house that he’s planning to build and does his best to help support the needy in his community.

He is also proud to say that he had a ‘colorful wedding made possible by my business, thanks to my lenders.’

James operates under the business name of ‘Jaycobs Electric’ where he has both a workshop and a sales section where he sells electrical fittings, lightings, conduits, electronics repair, and he also offers consultations. Within the workshop, he and his workers provide electrical and electronics repairs, mechanical repairs, and installations.

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Since December 2015, James has successfully raised 5 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $150 to $2,021. With his first loan he started by purchasing a power drill. He explains, ‘This is after I lost a client who wanted me to fix an LCD TV on his sitting room wall. I had no tool to drill holes in the concrete wall.’ After using about $65 USD to purchase the drill, he used the remainder of the loan to travel to Nairobi to purchase wholesale components. Lastly, he also was able to purchase a fiberglass tool box that he could safely transport around on a motorcycle, as well as some business cards to start promoting his business.

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His new power drill!

The following April, James was ready for his second Zidisha funded loan, raising, $505 from lenders. At the time, he was still operating his home based workshop, but had a vision of expanding to a workshop and sales shop outside his home. He explains, ‘ This has been mostly influenced by a big number of my customers who have frequently asked me to set a service shop where they can access me anytime even at night after their duties. Here I will be in a position to even serve more customers because it is a Center located by the main road. It is a move that can make me grow in my business and skills since I will do more sales and services considering the better location. I have so far booked a spacious business room enough to accommodate a sales section and a service section. I will use the loan to stock Electrical fittings including types of switches, sockets, conduits, lightings, cables, circuit breakers, distribution boxes, antennas, and also electronics spare parts to be used in the service section.’

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James with his wife and son, visiting an elderly member of his community.

By March 2017, James was in need of an inventory boost, requesting a $954 loan from Zidisha lenders. This allowed him to purchase a variety of cables that his customers had been requesting. He also saw this as an opportunity that would allow him to hire a second employee as his sales continued to increase.

As 2017 progressed, James continued to thrive and saw more opportunities for growth in his business. Observing his customers preferences and business demand, he decided to utilize his next Zidisha funded loan of $1,487 to hire another technician. He also increased his inventory for the sales side of his business, purchasing, ‘strobe lights, sirens, LED lighting, cables, and a computer.’

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James with one of his technicians.

While James has come incredibly far in his business, he only views this as the beginning for him. With his most recent loan of $2,021, he has been able to upgrade his inventory and registered his business as a company. He shares, ‘Zidisha microfinance has brought me this far. I feel I got the strength to take my business to the next level. I have a dream of employing 100 young ladies and gentlemen and give them a foundation of becoming self-dependent. With the loan am planning to register my business as a company which is a requirement in Kenya for one to apply for a Supply or Service Tender. As a company CEO I will have the capability of handling big tenders and finances and in turn employ many staff members.’

Would you like to empower an inspiring entrepreneur like James? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners around the world.