By Betsy Ramser Jaime
John Thiaro entered the world of entrepreneurship out of necessity. After working for a few companies that closed due to the recession he knew that he needed to look for a new path. His entrepreneurial journey began as a poultry farmer. He determined that poultry was a good starting point because free range chickens do not require much and are resistant to most diseases. He has a loving family comprised of his wife Mercy and two daughters named Kathy and Emmy. His firstborn, Kathy, is seven years old and would like to be a pilot someday and his younger daughter, Emmy is 5 years old and hopes to be a doctor when she grows up. Some of John’s favorite activities include traveling and nature expeditions. He especially loves ornithology, bird watching.
In May of 2015 John raised his first Zidisha funded loan of $100 which he used to buy 100 chicks, chicken feed, vaccinations, and materials to build a small building for his chicks. Right now John has about 800 chickens but started with less than 200 when he joined Zidisha. He says, ‘through the loans that I acquired from Zidisha, I have been able to expand my business progressively.’ His Zidisha funded loans have allowed him to make this his full-time job even employing another person to assist him in the business.
A few months later in September 2015, he was ready for a second loan of $200 to expand his business. With this loan he purchased a manual feed mixing machine, weighing scale, and raw materials. He thoroughly researched the best chicken feed formulation to ensure that he could cut the cost of production by 70-75%. The raw materials were comprised of cotton seed cake, sunflower, maize germ, wheat bran, premix, D.C.P., salt, and sorgham. He anticipated that with this loan he could expect to earn $30-40 weekly from the sale of feeds, and a similar amount from the sale of eggs from his chickens.
In March of 2016, John procured his third Zidisha loan of $383 which he used to buy a water tank. He knew this would be a good investment for a few reasons. First, before this loan, he had to buy water located 3 km away which meant that he spent a significant amount of time traveling back and forth. In addition, he could use the money that he had been spending on water to put towards buying cows in the future. Finally, he knew that the water tank would be a much needed asset in the future as he added cows to his farming portfolio. With a water tank he is now able to collect water for both domestic consumption and in his poultry business.
After this third loan, John happy to share an update with his lenders, ‘The project has not only made me be able to put food on the table, it has enabled me to take my young girls to school.’ He also was pleased to mention that his profits have been steadily increasing and his wife, Mercy, has also been able to start her own clothing shop in their neighborhood.
As John prepared for his fourth Zidisha loan in August of 2016, he provided lenders with this incredible update, ‘The water tank has been of tremendous benefit for me and my family as this enabled us to collect safe drinking water at an arm’s length. This obviously reduced the waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera. The second and most important was that my poultry business improved because at no time did my chicken lack water. This in turn increased the number of eggs/birds and the growth rate was very fast and I was able to make more profits. I had projected that I wanted to have about 300 chickens by the end of 2016 but, I would like to report that by June 2016 I had 420 mature chickens and lots of chicks. I therefore collect approximately 8 trays (240 eggs) of fertilized eggs on a daily basis.’
As 2016 came to a close, John shared a message to encourage lenders and borrowers alike when he said, ‘To all lenders, you are the engine that drives Zidisha and I take special consideration to you all for your generous loan that you have continued to entrust to us. Without you, most of our children could not be going to school or having a roof over their heads.To my fellow borrowers, please let us be responsible in our loan repayment, timely and in case of problems, let us share so that the lenders will know instead of defaulting and hiding. This is to ensure that other deserving people get the opportunity we also got and to make Zidisha self-reliant.’
On January 24, 2017 John shared an inspiring and heartfelt message of how Zidisha has impacted him. He mentioned, ‘The Zidisha concept is a stand alone for me and a lot of families and individuals especially in countries like ours in Africa. Our youth and the general population are enabled academically but the opportunities are very few compared to the number of needy people. Zidisha organization through the administration and the good and trustworthy lenders have made our lives valid and purposeful.Thank you so much and honestly, my personal life and that of my family has completely changed for the better.’
For this fourth loan he requested $827 to purchase an Automatic Egg Incubator which would enable him to operate a one stop shop for poultry. As John says, ‘don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.’ This new incubator would allow him to adjust the humidity, temperature, turn the eggs, and produce chicks on a weekly basis.
In March 2017 John provided lenders with an inspiring update, ‘Through incubation alone, I was able to increase my profits by more than 50%.’ At this point, he was faced with the problem of transportation. Therefore, he knew he could rely on Zidisha lenders when we requested his largest loan yet of $1,463 to purchase a motorcycle. He had been spending $100 a month towards transportation costs and knew that with his own transportation he could transport his feed, eggs, chicks, and chickens as well as using it to take his two girls to and from school.
In March of this year, John shared what he has learned through his experience with Zidisha, ‘To be honest, I never knew such an opportunity might occur in my life, to be able to get loans and repay without the hustles that are associated with the banking industry. Zidisha has taught me the discipline of borrowing and repaying and doing projects as a business – with profits being the driving force; opening opportunities and being able to live by means and at the same times honoring my debt obligations!’
If you were inspired by John’s story make sure to head on over to our loans page and help make a difference in the life of another entrepreneur.