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.

 

 

This is Going to Better Life for My Family

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

From the Copperbelt province of Zambia, Kelvin Malambo struggled as a child, sharing, ‘I encountered hardships in my childhood as I was raised not in my parents home. I started school in 1991 and completed my secondary education in 2002 at the age of 17. I studied Business Management from 2005 to 2007 that earned me a diploma.’

In order to attend college, Kelvin asked his Grandmother for the funds, and she was able to provide around $30 to assist him. Using this small startup amount, he was able to start trading and raise the funds for his tuition fees. While his Grandmother is no longer living, Kelvin believes that this opportunity that she provided for him gave him some valuable business experience.

However, once Kelvin was able to successfully finish school, the next hurdle that he faced was finding employment. He was able to secure some part-time jobs to pay the bills and also got married during this time. Looking back, Kelvin says that he ‘almost lost hope’ during this period of time. But, he never gave up as he explains, ‘As a family man I learnt to be responsible and worked even harder. I was able to raise 700 dollars with which I started a poultry business in 2014. Since then I have been through thick and thin, ups and downs until recently when I become more tough and an experienced business man.’

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Today, Kelvin and his wife have a beautiful family with two boys and one girl. Kelvin must have passed on his entrepreneurial genes to his children because they love spending time with him and his business. With both a busy work and family life, Kelvin enjoys spending his free time playing with his kids and reading business materials.

Currently, Kelvin operates in the electronics and hardware business and also offers computer and phone solutions for his customers. Kelvin shares with lenders that, ‘The goods and services are in demand because people are either building or need home essentials. Computers & phones have become so important in one’s life such that every person will need them. People are buying these goods every day for work, education or as a luxury. Because of the demand and the knowledge that I have about the goods and services I decided to join this industry.’

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Within his business, his typical costs are primarily inventory for computers, basic phones, smartphones, and accessories. Since joining the Zidisha community in late 2018, Kelvin has been able to to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans to keep growing his business. With these loans he’s been able to purchase new inventory and buy a laminator.

As a parent, he also has a passion for education and for helping children in Africa receive a good and affordable education. On October 6, 2019, he went to his discussion page and shared his vision with lenders, ‘Every child have the right to education. In Africa, about 75% of children have either not enrolled in school or going to very poor schools mine included. Schools are charging very high fees with poor services. A big number of children are dropping out of school. It hurts a lot as a responsible parent and citizen to see these children grow up uneducated and poor citizens. This is why poverty in Africa will continue for generations ahead.’


He continues, ‘I have a dream and I’m dedicated to fight hunger and poverty through education. I bought a plot and some blocks to build an excellent and affordable educational facility. I will look for help from well wishers to sponsor 65% of the poor children and charge $11 only per term for those that can manage. This charge is nothing compared to $48 most private schools are charging on average.’

Through his business and his plans for his school, Kelvin is working hard to improve his community and country for both himself and his children. Speaking to the changes that his business and being a part of the Zidisha community has had on his life, he shares, ‘This is going to better life for my family.’

Would you like to support an entrepreneur like Kelvin and empower his or her business or vision? Make sure to head on over to the Browse Projects page to read about other amazing Zidisha entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

Rich in Natural Resources

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ulrich Yaw Soudi is a dynamic man from Ghana. Working hard, he balances his studies as a Business Administration student with his work as a business owner. Ulrich is certainly a happy soul as he shares, ‘I belong to a family of six and we are a happy people. I can not say we are rich but I can’t complain of anything. Everything we need God provides it all.’

As a student, he takes classes online through the University of Malaysia, also called, The Open University of Malaysia (OUM). He has 5 tutorial sessions per trimester and his assignments are done online.

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Ulrich with his lovely wife.

 

While being a student might be a large enough workload in itself, Ulrich is also a multi-passionate entrepreneur. He explains, ‘ I have a business that I run and we offer secretarial services and a café which is beginning to grow and we are in the growth stage in business. I am doing my best to run a competitive business so that my business can withstand competition. The business I am into is mushrooming everywhere because of its demand therefore success in this industry requires more creative and innovative ideas.’ Within his business, his services consist of: photocopy, binding books, lamination, typing, printing, designing, and scanning.’ In addition, he also sells scratch cards for telephone companies.

Not wanting to put all of his eggs in one basket, Ulrich also operates a second business where he provides money transfers and is a Fidelity bank agent. He explains, ‘It is our responsibility to open, deposit and withdraw money for Fidelity customers that come to the office. Most call it Agency Banking. It is aimed at the less fortunate and illiterate people who do not have the ego to go to the main branches where much paper work is required. This helps them to learn the habit to save and operate a Bank account. These businesses came into existence through hard work and the heart to help humanity and to earn my living.’

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With his business earnings, he is able to expand his businesses and also pay for his education. For Ulrich, one of his greatest joys is to be able to provide employment for the youth in his community to allow them to provide for themselves.

With his business, he believes that he has a strategic advantage being located near schools and also close to the district hospital. Ulrich says that in the past, one of his biggest barriers to succeeding in business has been a lack of capital, and now that he is part of the Zidisha community, he’s been able to overcome this challenge.

Ulrich starting partnering with Zidisha in 2016, and has successfully raised 9 Zidisha funded loans, starting with a $129 loan in October 2016, and most recently raising $1,821 from lenders in 2019.

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Ulrich hard at work.

With 4 Zidisha funded loans in 2017, Ulrich was able to make some big improvements to his businesses including, ‘a new instant photo printer, a new set of toner, photo papers, improved signage, and office furniture.’ He also saw an opportunity to do some farming on the side, using his third and fourth loans of 2017 to acquire farming tools to start growing, ‘cabbage, lettuce, sweet pepper, and cucumbers.’

With his sixth Zidisha funded loan, in February 2018 for $758, Ulrich shared with lenders, ‘I have been in the printing and designing industry for the past five years and saw tremendous breakthroughs financially and wish to upgrade the business by acquiring sophisticated machinery for my printing work. I had two copier machines. One black and white and the other colored. Unfortunately, the colored machine broke down, and I spent so much to repair it but it was not successful and so was advised by an expert to acquire a new one. So I kindly need your assistance financially to acquire another Canon ImageRunner C5045i Photocopier. The cost of the used Canon is $900.00 but I will top up for the difference.’

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Most recently, Ulrich has also been able to add cellphones to the list of products that he offers in his store. With his 3 loans in late 2018 and early 2019, he has been able to stock up on IPhones, Samsungs, and other smartphones.

Ulrich would like the world to know that the Ghanaian people are loving, hospitable, and sociable and that many unique cultures make up Ghana. Ulrich also notes that Ghana has a myriad of natural resources and that the government and citizens are working hard to utilize the resource that they have to eradicate poverty throughout the country. And when Ulrich has free time from studying, farming, and working on his businesses, you can usually find him singing, talking, and hanging out with friends.

Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Ulrich? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners all over the world.

 

Zidisha Came To My Rescue

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

James Chege was raised in a small village in Central Kenya, where he started his education at the local primary school before moving on to secondary school at Thika High School. After graduation, he went went on to study Aircraft Maintenance at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, receiving a certificate in Engine and Airframe.

This led to a job in a local maintenance firm. Unfortunately, even with a job, James says that life in Nairobi was a struggle, as he shares, ‘In Nairobi life was so difficult for me considering the salary was too little for my needs. At some point I decided to live in the slums because good rooms were so expensive to rent. So I moved to Dandora slums. I even went a step further to walking half distance to work and half by bus.I had to sacrifice with an aim of getting enough skills in workshop jobs, maintenance work and electronics diagnosis.’

By early 2015, James was still struggling and felt certain that it was time for him to go out on his own and become an entrepreneur. He felt that he had the skills to get him started so he returned to his village, where he mother provided him with a small room to set up his own workshop.

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James out on a job.

James shares that, ‘Life was so hard trying to establish myself until ZIDISHA came to my rescue where I got a loan to rent a big workshop in our local shopping center where I have grown steadily. Thanks to all Lenders.’

Some of his typical business expenses include: 70 USD a year for a business license, 50 USD a month for rent, and 120 USD for wages for his employees. With his profit he is able to continually re-invest in his business, while also helping to support his parents and younger sister. In addition, he has also been putting funds towards construction materials for the house that he’s planning to build and does his best to help support the needy in his community.

He is also proud to say that he had a ‘colorful wedding made possible by my business, thanks to my lenders.’

James operates under the business name of ‘Jaycobs Electric’ where he has both a workshop and a sales section where he sells electrical fittings, lightings, conduits, electronics repair, and he also offers consultations. Within the workshop, he and his workers provide electrical and electronics repairs, mechanical repairs, and installations.

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Since December 2015, James has successfully raised 5 Zidisha funded loans ranging from $150 to $2,021. With his first loan he started by purchasing a power drill. He explains, ‘This is after I lost a client who wanted me to fix an LCD TV on his sitting room wall. I had no tool to drill holes in the concrete wall.’ After using about $65 USD to purchase the drill, he used the remainder of the loan to travel to Nairobi to purchase wholesale components. Lastly, he also was able to purchase a fiberglass tool box that he could safely transport around on a motorcycle, as well as some business cards to start promoting his business.

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His new power drill!

The following April, James was ready for his second Zidisha funded loan, raising, $505 from lenders. At the time, he was still operating his home based workshop, but had a vision of expanding to a workshop and sales shop outside his home. He explains, ‘ This has been mostly influenced by a big number of my customers who have frequently asked me to set a service shop where they can access me anytime even at night after their duties. Here I will be in a position to even serve more customers because it is a Center located by the main road. It is a move that can make me grow in my business and skills since I will do more sales and services considering the better location. I have so far booked a spacious business room enough to accommodate a sales section and a service section. I will use the loan to stock Electrical fittings including types of switches, sockets, conduits, lightings, cables, circuit breakers, distribution boxes, antennas, and also electronics spare parts to be used in the service section.’

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James with his wife and son, visiting an elderly member of his community.

By March 2017, James was in need of an inventory boost, requesting a $954 loan from Zidisha lenders. This allowed him to purchase a variety of cables that his customers had been requesting. He also saw this as an opportunity that would allow him to hire a second employee as his sales continued to increase.

As 2017 progressed, James continued to thrive and saw more opportunities for growth in his business. Observing his customers preferences and business demand, he decided to utilize his next Zidisha funded loan of $1,487 to hire another technician. He also increased his inventory for the sales side of his business, purchasing, ‘strobe lights, sirens, LED lighting, cables, and a computer.’

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James with one of his technicians.

While James has come incredibly far in his business, he only views this as the beginning for him. With his most recent loan of $2,021, he has been able to upgrade his inventory and registered his business as a company. He shares, ‘Zidisha microfinance has brought me this far. I feel I got the strength to take my business to the next level. I have a dream of employing 100 young ladies and gentlemen and give them a foundation of becoming self-dependent. With the loan am planning to register my business as a company which is a requirement in Kenya for one to apply for a Supply or Service Tender. As a company CEO I will have the capability of handling big tenders and finances and in turn employ many staff members.’

Would you like to empower an inspiring entrepreneur like James? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners around the world.

Zidisha All The Way!

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a student, Felix Appiah attended the Ghana Armed Forces secondary school in Kumasi. Afterwards, he earned a degree in Civil Engineering. Today he is busy as he manages two jobs. First, as a supervisor for the construction of roads, buildings, and culverts. And second, he is also self-employed as a web designer and video blogger. When Felix was first introduced to Zidisha he shared that, ‘I have a passion for pictures and videos and wish to open my own studio.’ At the time, he was using an old camera which he liked to call his, ‘Sony Grandpa.’ However, his goal was to upgrade his equipment so that he would be able to offer higher quality results and services for his customers. You can even view his website at: http://www.trisolace.com.

As Felix was first introduced to Zidisha in 2017, he shared his hopes and goals with lenders, ‘I use my time to pursue my love in picture taking and videos. I have some contracts to cover small weddings and parties in my area. But I lack new equipment and accessories in the ever growing photography world. I currently have in my employ 1 person who carries my home made lighting pole for night events and indoor events. I would love to employ more people and buy more equipment. I get my revenue or income from the little retail business I have and also from contracts of weddings and party coverage. And some revenue also come from my occasional supervision work as a foreman or supervisor in building and construction work.’

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With his first Zidisha funded loan of $124, Felix set out to purchase a 20 megapixel camera that he could use for weddings and party shoots. In addition, he also hoped to use the remainder of the loan to buy a lighting pole for indoor video and photo shoots. By improving his equipment quality, Felix knew that this would allow him to provide better quality videos and photos for his clients. Also, he foresaw that this could lead to more contracts and hopefully the ability to employ more workers too.

Felix’s next business purchase required some patience and persistence. He dreamed of purchasing a high quality laptop that he could use for his photo and video editing. At the time, he had been doing most of his editing at internet cafes but found that the computers were often slow and unreliable. With a laptop of his own, he knew this would make a big difference in his business in allowing him to process more videos, increasing his productivity by almost 50%. He estimated a cost of $400 for the laptop and $25 for the editing software. Through the duration of 6 Zidisha funded loans, ranging from $33 to $126, Felix was able to continue saving for his laptop.

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By January 2019, Felix found that his DIY lighting equipment was ready for an upgrade. He shared, ‘the DIY one I did is not so professional and it’s not very bright for very dark areas.’ His goal was to purchase an LED lightweight video light, which would cost about $80 and a rechargeable battery, for about $110. Between his own savings and his Zidisha funded loan, he knew he could reach his goal. This would also allow him to expand his services as he had previously rejected night time jobs due to his poor lighting.

Since February 2019, Felix has continued to make progress and has added some additional equipment including a Godox Universal flashlight, with the help of a $138 Zidisha funded loan and how he is saving to buy a Lumix GH4 Camera.

Felix has also recently branched out into designing flyers and graphic development. He found that his media clients were asking him for these services, so now he has an additional stream of income for his business. To ensure that he has the proper skills and training, he has even enrolled in a 3 month intensive Photoshop training.

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Felix’s Flyers

Today he is pleased with where he is in his business and shares with his lenders that, ‘Purchasing this high graphic laptop has been a dream come true and a move to make my wok more efficient and on time delivery of clients videos and photography works.’

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Felix with his family

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Felix? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring business owners that are changing their communities.