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.