By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Rose Joseph Mlunga has had the opportunity to live in 3 different African countries. Born in Tanzania, she is the youngest child with 5 older siblings. As a child, she attended both primary and O-level secondary school in Tanzania before moving to Uganda to work on her A-level secondary studies.
During her studies, she performed well on her 6 national examinations and earned a spot to continue studying at Makerere University in Uganda. She completed her studies in 2010 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.
While she was a university student, she started dating her now husband. Today they are married, living in Kenya, and have one daughter.
As a Zidisha entrepreneur, Rose runs a mobile banking business (M-pesa) and also sells phone accessories. In addition to mobile banking, she also runs a second business selling secondhand handbags and clothing. She shares the reasoning for doing both as, ‘At times you find business is wobbling up and down due to seasons.’
She hopes to continually expand and grow her business in the future. Rose explains, ‘Mobile banking has saved people a lot because they can send and receive money at any time and anywhere, so this makes the business very stable and increases income in the business. In this mobile banking business I make US$ 200 a month, apart from mobile banking I do mobile phone charging to clients in which I charge UD$ 0.2 per phone, also I sell airtime in my shop.’
Rose has been part of the Zidisha community since 2016, and over the past three years has raised 7 Zidisha funded loans ranging in amount from $200 to $937.
With her first Zidisha funded loan of $200, Rose began to expand her selection of mobile phone accessories and phone charging, hoping to make a profit of $20 USD a day on phone accessories and $10 USD per day for charging. In Kenya, selling charging time is a great business service because most Kenyans don’t have their own source of electricity, making this a high demand service.
A few months after her first loan, Rose requested a second for $200 and this time she set out to grow her business by purchasing a computer for $100 USD, a digital camera for $80 USD, and a 16G memory card for $10.20. The remaining funds would be donated to her local church as she says, ‘to thank God for the opportunity he has given me and the lenders.’
She also found that it was the right time to hire one employee who could help her take photos and do passports.Building upon her previous loan, Rose successfully raised $296 in March 2017, enabling her to purchase a photo printer, a laminating machine, and an additional table for her shop. The rest was put towards paint for re-branding.
A few months later, she then raised $443 in September from lenders, and $495 in October, allowing her to expand her business by adding an Equity Bank Agent, Family Bank Pesa Pap Agent, KCB Bank Agent, and Co-Operative Bank Agent. This would allow Rose to provide all 5 money solutions.
By December 2017, Rose found that she had another problem that needed her attention. Frustrated by the occurrence of power blackouts and lack of electricity, she decided that a power generator would be a great investment, allowing her to continue operating her business even while others are out of power. With $935 from Zidisha lenders, Rose was able to purchase the generator and also pay for the power cables and the wages for the technician to install it. As few people have generators, this would also provide Rose with a competitive advantage in the market.
As Rose’s business has continued to grow and expand, there’s no telling how far she can continue to go in the future. Most recently, in October 2019, she successfully raised $1,030, her largest loan yet! With this loan she is purchasing computers and a printing machine, as well as having internet installation work done.
While 2018 and 2019, haven’t been the easiest business years for Rose, she has persevered and is finding ways to iterate and continually make improvements and provide value for her customers in her community.
Would you like to help boost an entrepreneur like Rose? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about other inspiring Zidisha business owners.