A Passion For People

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Born in the Central Province of Kenya (Nyeri), Teresah Wamuyu was the daughter of peasant farmers, with a small coffee plantation. She shares, ‘It was challenging for them to guarantee us a decent lifestyle. However, despite these limitations, my parents believed in my education. They did their very best to ensure I went to school. It’s heartbreaking that they are not here anymore to witness the results of their hard work and faith in me, but wherever they are, am sure they are smiling and proud of their efforts.’

After completing her education, Teresah worked diligently as a primary school teacher for over 25 years. She eventually decided to seek early retirement in order to focus on her small business. Her husband is also a teacher and they have four grown children.

Teresah is very proud of her children and their abilities to continue their education. She explains, my eldest son secured a job and is working towards cementing his career. The second born has just started his small business. My third born is in his 3rd year of university. He has been helping me out so much over the holidays in running my cereals business. He is very interested in joining me after university to try and scale this business. My only daughter, the last born, is in her 1st year in the university. She’s studying for a career in the tourism & hospitality industry. It has been quite a struggle educating my children, but it is with God’s glory that we have managed.’

While Teresah certainly has the business acumen to run a successful business, she also has a love for making a difference in her community and the lives of everyone around her, which certainly reflects her time spent as a teacher. She shares, ‘Zidisha was very pivotal when I decided to start my business. A business, for me, was not only a means of meeting the needs of my community and creating a source of income, but also a way of liberating myself and empowering more of the people around me. I have always had a passion for helping people in need. Throughout my teaching career, I have lived with and accommodated different persons and treated them as family; ranging from a few orphaned kids, a HIV Positive girl, a son of a single mother, to my nieces who needed financial support. I do not do all these because I had any adequate financial capability, but rather because I felt it was the right thing to do. That is why I look at my business as a means of not only empowering myself, but most importantly, a way of empowering my customers and persons I care about. That is my passion.’

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During her time with Zidisha, Teresah has had 5 substantial Zidisha funded loans, which have allowed her to grow and slowly scale her business. Back in 2013, she obtained her first loan, for $500 and used the funds to purchase additional poultry and construct another chicken house. Seeing the success of her first loan, she then raised a second loan in 2013 for $1,014, doubling her previous loan. This time around, she purchased an incubator.

Like most entrepreneurs, the business that Teresah started in, (poultry farming), is different from what she is doing today. With the help of the Zidisha community, she has been able to transition to having her own shop where she now sells cereals and other food items.

By 2015, Teresah was finding success, but found that she needed to start purchasing her inventory in bulk, in order to lower her costs, and to keep up with customer demand. With a $1,450 loan from lenders, Teresah added to her stock of maize cereals, beans, green grams, and sorghum. She shares the importance of this loan as she explains to lenders, ‘Getting this loan will be of invaluable importance to me in that I will be able to meet the pending orders. It will be of much importance to my customers in that they will be availed with an opportunity to purchase food products within a reasonable range of prices as well as ensure food sustainability in our area all year round. By purchasing in bulk as indicated above, my costs will be lower than they have been in the past months and therefore this will enable my profit margin to increase to an average of 30%.’

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As Teresah began to scale her business, she saw a need for food delivery in rural areas. Taking this as an opportunity, she raised $1,977 from Zidisha lenders in May 2016, and set out to purchase a motorcycle, rent a second motorcycle, and purchase additional maize and bread. She also set aside $180 for contingencies as her emergency fund. Not able to contain her excitement and enthusiasm, Teresah says, ‘I came to you, Zidisha, to start a business, now I am back for your support to scale the business. Let us join hearts, hands and resources to improve service delivery here in Kenya.’

The following year, Teresah was prepared to continue growing the delivery aspect of her business, raising $2,929 from Zidisha lenders to purchase 3 additional motorcycles to transport food and merchandise.

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With this most recent loan, Teresah has discovered that finding the right transportation mode has been a lot of trial and error. She explains, ‘I tested this distribution model first by leasing out a couple motorcycles to do the transportation for me. It quickly became clear that motorcycles wouldn’t transport the bulk of my products as efficiently as I would have liked. I, therefore, looked for and acquired a second-hand Toyota Carina sedan car for about $1,500 (I paid $1000 in cash and the rest in 10 monthly installments). Well, it’s a cranky old car but it did the job…most of the time!’

What started as a retail business has now morphed into a wholesale business. She’s even doing so well that she’s been able to open a second shop.

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‘I am so grateful for what you do for us. It’s because of your grace and generosity that I can fend for my family, pay school fees as well as provide quality products to my customers. I surely thank you Guys for everything you have enabled me to achieve. Thank you.’

Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Teresah? Make sure to head on our to our Browse Projects page to read about inspiring Zidisha business owners all around the world.

 

A Vision For the Future

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ngwata Phiri is a businessman, born and raised in Lusaka Zambia. As a child, he attended three different primary schools, starting in Chalimbana in Lusaka, then on to Chilenje Primary School, and finally completing his studies at Woodlands Primary School. Afterwards, he was able to successfully receive his GEC certificate at Kabulonga Boys Secondary School.

Finally, to finish up his education, he enrolled in the Zambia Institute of Technology where his area of focus was, Computer Studies. In addition to that, he also holds a certificate in Psychosocial Counseling.

Today, Ngwata owns and operates a Business Center in his town. However, he’s found that the process of renovating the building and getting it ready for customers has been a long and arduous process for him.

Fortunately, he hasn’t had to do it alone! Since partnering with Zidisha in 2017, Ngwata has been able to raise 5 Zidisha funded loans to assist him in his project.Starting out, Ngwata foresaw that there would be 4 phases involved in getting his business up and running.

In phase 1, he predicted that he would need to complete the foundation, superstructure, roofing, flooring, and septic tank. He calculated that this phase would amount to around $2,300. For the second phase, Ngwata made a plan that included plastering the walls, installing doors, window frames, and window panes. The painting would also be completed in this phase as well, reaching a total of $2,000. With the third phase, this work would include, toilets, roofing, pillars, electrical wiring, and tiles, reaching an expected total of $250.

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For the fourth and final phase, Ngwata imagined that this phase would involve the electricity connection to the power grid, and purchasing the equipment for his business including: ‘a photocopier, laminator, 2 secondhand desktops, 2 tables, and 4 secondhand chairs.’ He predicted a cost of about $1,000 for this final phase.

From the beginning, it was clear that Ngwata certainly had a lot of work ahead of him, but this didn’t intimidate him, he steadily moved forward and made progress in his business.

Ngwata was able to utilize 3 Zidisha funded loans in 2017 to help with his renovations. These 3 loans were for, $93, $150, and $378. Combining this with some of his own funds, he set to work. During this time, he made great progress on phase 2 of his project as he started plastering the walls, fixing the doors, fixing window panes, and painting.

Even before his building was finished, he was already creating opportunities to impact his community for the better as he shares, ‘I will see how I can use this structure (even in an unfinished state to reach out to the youths around the area (using my psychosocial counseling skills). A lot of the youths around don’t have anything to do except turn to beer. There is not much in the way of creation and role-models here.’

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He imagined that once his business center was fully up and running, it would be a place of teaching and recreation for the youth. He hoped that he could help motivate them to make something of their lives.

Ngwata is a great example for each one of us that we all have influence exactly where we are. Even if we’re working hard and haven’t seen our plans or dreams come to fruition, we can use what we have, exactly where we are to help those around us.

While it would have been easy for Ngwata to put off helping the youth in his area until he was 100% finished with his project, he was determined to begin right away.

As 2017 came to a close, Ngwata was faced with an unexpected emergency operation for acute appendicitis, and an exploratory surgery. Fortunately, he was able to recover in time to celebrate his daughter’s wedding on October 14th. Between his business, his operations, and his daughter’s wedding, 2017 proved to be an expensive year, yet, he kept moving ahead.

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In 2018, Ngwata raised one loan, amounting to $737 and was able to get to work bringing power to his building. He also worked to improve the security by installing secure grill doors and burglar bars on the windows.

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“Power is in and painting has started” August 2019

In September 2019, Ngwata received a $553 Zidisha funded loan to assist him with his final phase. He is now looking to complete the painting, do some branding, and purchase his PC’s, laminator, tables, and chairs.

While it hasn’t been a short or easy process, Ngwata has shown that if you’re willing to put in the time and work, you can truly create something beautiful and worth the effort.

Would you like to impact a community like Ngwata’s? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other entrepreneurs in Zambia and all over the world.

Just Keep Smiling

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Even though Nkatiah Kwaku usually wears a big smile on his face, he’s certainly had his share of ups and downs in life. He was born in Berekum, in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana and completed his education through the Junior High School level. Sadly, due to a lack of finances, he couldn’t further his education, having lost both of his parents at a young age. In his own words, Nkatiah shared, ‘I struggled in life to meet my demands.’

As a result, he made the decision to open his own barber shop, called ‘Agyaku’s Barbering Shop.’ As he began his entrepreneurial journey, he boldly and beautifully said, ‘I wish to establish this business to redeem me from my hardship and establish my family for the future. My hope is to establish myself and assist the needy ones as well since we have plenty of needy ones in my community.’

Since joining the Zidisha community, Nkatiah has successfully raised 11 Zidisha funded loans between October 2016 and August 2019. With his monthly profits from his business, he is able to pay his bills and utilities, with enough money left to pay his children’s school fees and also assist others in his local community.

Starting out, with a $20 loan in October 2016 and a $39 loan in December, Nkatiah purchased a few new items for his shop including: comb, barbering machine, powder, and pomade.’ As he says, ‘these items will help my render effective service to my customers and thereby increase my profit margin by 15%, the profit margin will enable me to expand and offer effective services to my customers.’

By March 2017, Nkatiah was continuing to make steady changes to improve his business. He determined that investing his next Zidisha funded loan ($61) towards some renovations for his shop would be a smart use of funds. Even with the renovations, he could also purchase some new chairs for his shop and more posters showing a variety of hairstyles.

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As Nkatiah continued to operate his business, he thought of new solutions and ideas for growing and reaching more customers. For example, he realized that if he had a bicycle, this would enable him to serve customers in remote areas most of which might struggle to find a barber.

As the new year started, Nkatiah was ready to see what 2018 had in store for his business. He started the year by raising $94 from Zidisha lenders, which put him in a good position to purchase 2 new shaving machines, 1 new visitor chair, a set of combs, and a cover cloth. Another significant change that this loan brought about was the ability to hire an employee to assist him.

In September, a storm ruined the roof of his shop. Therefore, with the support of a $89 Zidisha funded loan, Nkatiah was able to buy a roofing sheet, nails, wood, and tools. This loan also covered the labor costs to repair the damage.

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By November, the next matter on Nkatiah’s priority list, was fixing an electricity matter in his business. As he raised $86 from Zidisha lenders, he was able to purchase the necessary materials (matter, matter board, wire) and labor to solve the problem.

So far, in 2019, Nkatiah has secured 3 Zidisha funded loans for $186, $200, and $172. With these first two loans, he was able to easily re-supply his shop with necessary items such as, ‘hair cream, cotton, aprons, powders, and blades. The third loan, in August, enabled him to purchase an additional sterilizer machine and also continue to address another electrical issue requiring wire, matter, and labor costs.

Nkahtiah has had to work hard in life for everything that he has received, but that work ethic, and never give up spirit, have put him on the path to success. Between a thriving and fulfilling business, a lovely family, and the ability to enact local change in his community, he’s created a well-rounded and joyful life for himself and those around him.

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Nkatiah? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects Page to read dozens of stories of Zidisha business owners around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Customers

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Okolocha Ogochukwu is from Nigeria and resides in port Harcourt Rivers state. He is proud to call himself both a graduate and now a supermarket owner as well. For his business, he operates his supermarket 7 days a week and on top of that, he is is also a husband and father to 4 children.

To describe his business, he shares, ‘I own a super market at Mgbuoba Port Harcourt Rivers state of Nigeria. I deal in provisions of cosmetic articles and food stuff. I also deal in house hold items like plates, frying pan, spoons, and forks flask and baby items. I make daily sales of 10000 to 15000. I operate Monday through Saturday and a half day on Sunday.’

Okolocha is fairly new to the Zidisha community, having just joined in June 2019. However, he’s certainly made up for lost time, raising 7 loans in the short span of 5 months. Starting with a mere $14 loan in June, he was able to start by adding a few new items to his supermarket stock.

A month later, he found himself able to successfully raise 3 additional loans, in the amounts of, $22, $24, and $27.

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With his $22 loan he shared, ‘I will go to market and buy goods for my shop for my customers. I will buy cosmetics and articles and provision and food stuff. I will buy houses hold items like plates frying pan spoons and forks and flaskes which customers are looking for. I will also buy diapers for babies and wipes and baby products.’

As he continued to grow in his business, Okolocha was able to take the feedback that he was getting from customers to grow and make changes to his business and overall stock. For his next July loan, he focused on increasing his stock of cosmetics, which his customers were asking for. He also made the decision to purchase more diapers for babies and to offer a wider variety of sizes and brands.

Later in July, as he received his next loan for $27, he focused on increasing his stock of food products such as, ‘rice and beans.’ He also found that customers were asking for more household products so he also increased his inventory of ‘plates, frying pans, spoons,’ and other household items.

As the month of August rolled around, Okolocha knew that this would be an important time of year for business as he was in the midst of back to school for the children and also approaching the Christmas season.

With a $159 loan from Zidisha lenders in August, Okolocha set to work stocking up on rice for his customers. He also found that the baby products that he sold seemed to do very well so he also focused on his stock of diapers, baby wipes, and creams.

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Shortly thereafter, Okolocha requested a $175 loan from investors and shared, ‘As the season is fast approaching, I will use the money to buy bags of rice, tomatoes, cosmetics, house hold items, and especially back to school items. As school has just resumed, I need to buy school bags, water flasks, lunch pack, stockings and others. A lot to buy but limited money.’

Most recently, as Okolocha raised over $200 in October, he was excited to update his lenders as he said, ‘With this new loan I will still buy more of drinks and cosmetics as things will soon increase in the market. This loan will help me to restock my goods. I thank and appreciate the lenders and the entire family. Thank you so much’

Would you like to provide a loan for a business owner like Okolocha? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about other incredible entrepreneurs within the Zidisha community.