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.’
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%.’
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.
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.
‘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.