The Kenyan Developer

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Robert Nyanja lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and works in the real estate industry. When he started with Zidisha in 2017, he already had developed a few shops, but he was wanting to gorw and expand his business. His goal is to continue building and creating more  structures in his area.

As Robert joined Zidisha, he shared his work and his goal as he says, ‘I work at a real estate company which has two small shopping malls and over forty tenants. I’ll be using this money acquired for the loan to create shopping kiosks using shipping containers (8-by-40 foot steel containers). The kiosks will be built in the rural area of Limuru, to help the low working class have a place to sell their goods and services thus increasing their household income. My hope is to help my community and grow my business too.’

In his time with Zidisha, Robert has been able to raise 8 Zidisha funded loans, enabling him to continue reaching new heights in his business. With his first two Zidisha funded loans in June 2017, for $99, Robert sought to acquire a new property to rent out. He explains, ‘I need the loan to acquire some more properties to grow my business. I manage properties at the moment and make my money by collecting rent from tenants always before the 5th of every month. If I receive the the loan I can guarantee payments on the scheduled time as requested by the lender.’

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The foundation of Robert’s new property.

 

Finding success with his first two Zidisha funded loans, he raised $200 from lenders in August 2017, and another $415 in October 2017. By combining these two loans, Robert found himself able to make some necessary renovations on the 15 houses/apartments owned by his real estate company. He explains some of the changes he hoped to make as he says, ‘Most of the houses are in good condition but some need renovations. I’ll be using this money acquired for the the loan to do those renovations on all the houses. I need to replace some roofing also put in some new water pumps and water trunks. I’ll also fix the tiling in the bathrooms and put new coats of paint inside and outside the houses. Once the houses are renovated I can increase the houses rent by 10% to generate more income.’

As Robert started to see the positive impact of his first few loans, he shared this encouraging update with his Zidisha lenders, ‘I would first like take this opportunity to thank you all for providing me with the capital to do the repairs to the house and provide better living for the tenants. I’ll be using the capital to fix some much needed roof repairs. Again thank you all.’

As 2018 rolled around, Robert found himself with new goals and projects for the new year. He started with a $672 Zidisha funded loan which allowed him to replace some of the roofing with new materials including, ‘nails, timber, steel sheets, sealant, and tarp.’ He also saw a need for adding in new water pumps and new ceilings. For this project, he hoped that these changes would provide better and safer living conditions for each of his current tenants. In addition, he also predicted that this additional improvements would allow him to raise the rent on his currently vacant properties.

So far, in 2019, Robert has raised 3 Zidisha funded loans, including two $9 loans, and one for $744. With these three loans, Robert has had goals of buying shipping containers and additional materials, welding equipment, water pumps, and some additional electrical wiring.

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Recently, on November 11, 2019, Robert went to his discussion page to share an update with lenders on his progress. He shared, ‘Good day ladies and gentlemen, I just wanted to say thank you to you all. You have truly helped me achieve my goals and more, the community and tenants thank you too. With your money I was able to buy a shipping container, and materials to set it up. Including new water pumps and water trunks, install lighting and electrical wiring. The tenant opened up a barber/salon, cyber cafe, kiosk and wholesale clothing shop. They have requested that I add more container shops so they can all grow their businesses.’

Would you like to positively impact the life of an entrepreneur like Robert? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other business owners throughout the Zidisha community.

I Can Achieve My Dreams

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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.’

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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.

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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.

 

 

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.

The Sky Is My Limit, That I Am Sure

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘Being from a family that has nothing brings about the zeal to make it in life’, shares Victor Fadeyi. Growing up in the center of poverty, Victor knew that he would need to work hard, but was willing to put in the effort to make it happen.

As a student, he studied Mass Communications at university and knew that once he graduated working in an office would not be a good fit for him. As he shares, ‘I know that I am not the kind that sits in an office with air conditioning blowing but the kind that works on the field and create jobs for others.’

With this in mind, even before he graduated, he started to learn about laundry and cleaning services. He knew that this was what he wanted but was patient in allowing it to happen. As he saved the money to open his laundry business, he worked as a cab driver.

Today Victor is so grateful that his laundry business is able to support his family and even pay for an education for his two children, explaining, ‘I will never allow them to suffer the way I did.’

In his business, Victor provides laundry and cleaning services for those that either do not have the time or strength to do their own laundry or clean their homes themselves. His business also offers dying and stain removal services as well.

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Because of the professional way in which he conducts his business, he finds that he gets quite a bit of repeat business. To describe the customer experience, Victor says, ‘We get the laundry from their various home and get back to them neat and well packaged.’ In a typical week, he’s able to earn around 5,000 Nigerian Naira.

So far, in his time with Zidisha, Victor has successfully raised six Zidisha funded loans, ranging from $4 to $145. These loans have allowed him to continually make improvements and changes to his business.

Starting in June 2019, Victor raised two $4 loans which helped him to purchase some materials and continue his marketing efforts to promote his business.

Soon after, in July, Victor raised $36 and was able to purchase a new steam iron to replace one that had stopped working. He also raised another loan in July, this one for $70 and with the funds, he intended to start saving to expand his business by renting a shop or opening an office.

On Jul 20, 2019, Victor took to his discussion board and shared that the new iron was working out very well for him, he shared, ‘Thanks to Zidisha, my business is getting better and ironing of clothes is easier as I bought a new steam iron. I delivered laundries back to customers faster than before. Thank you so much.’

With more space, Victor knew that this would allow him to take on more business and by doing so, he also hoped that he would be able to hire one employee to assist him in the business.

By August 2019, Victor was hoping to put more efforts into marketing and promoting his business by using hand bills, signs, business cards and banners. With a $102 loan from Zidisha lenders, he was able to make this happen.

In business and in life, as soon as you solve one problem, another one seems to pop up. For Victor, he saw his next business improvement being a new washing machine so that he could operate faster and more efficiently. Fortunately, he was able to raise the $145 necessary to purchase his new machine.

Coming from a childhood of poverty, to college graduate and entrepreneur, Victor has come unbelievably far in his life with a strong work ethic and a belief in himself. In his own words, ‘The Sky is my limit, that I am sure.’

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur and family like Victor’s? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects to read about other inspiring Zidisha business owners.