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.

 

 

 

 

 

Reading is a Beautiful Culture

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wilson Wasonga has had a passion and love for books for as long as he can remember.  Born and raised in Kenya, he was able to continue his education up until the college level. And today, he is sharing that love for books with others as a books seller, as he likes to say, ‘reading is a beautiful culture.’

He has a family and children and after saving for ten years, he has been able to build his own home. His big audacious dream for himself is to be a financial independent man and he continues to work towards this goal as he builds his business and desires to open a school supermarket by the end of 2022.

He shares, ‘my major aim is to help those who cannot afford school products in learning days by renting them the used and new school books and stationary at a fees so that their children and themselves can get the required learning materials.’

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Wilson likes to say that he is a ‘books man.’ With only $4, he started his business in 2008 with a small stall. Since starting, he transparently shares that it’s not always easy. He says, ‘It is a challenging business because it has some peak months in January, February, April, August and December. So that is the time I get good business while part of the months the business provide availability to survive on.’

Between himself, his wife, and one employee, he is able to continue the business going while generating between $450-600 during the high season and between $300-400 during the low season.

Because of the seasonal nature of his work, when Wilson first discovered Zidisha, he knew that this would help him sustain his business during the rough off season. As a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, he received his first Zidisha funded loan in June 2018, where he started with $9 to purchase school stationary for his stall.

A few months later, he raised a second and then a third loan for $12 and $19 which enabled him to purchase pencils and calculators.

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Since then, Wilson has successfully raised 5 loans growing his business along the way. With these 5 loans he raised amounts of $41, $60, $264, $343, and $485. As 2018 came to a close Wilson continued to raise funds for his calculators using both the $41 and $60 specifically for this purpose.

By mid 2019, Wilson was ready to add additional paper to his inventory. With $264 from Zidisha lenders, he was able to purchase reams of papers at a cost of 380 Kenyan Shillings to be resold for 500 Kenyan Shillings.

Always keeping an eye on the market and his customer needs, Wilson decided to stock up on novels as July rolled around. He explained that during the months of July-September people enjoy relaxing with a book. With this in mind, Wilson was able to purchase a bulk order of books, around 400 novels. By selling each book for 150 Kenyan Shillings ($1.45 USD) he would be able to double his profit.

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Most recently, in August 2019, Wilson was able to raise, $485 for one of the most important times of the year, back to school. Using the loan to stock exams and back to school materials such as, ‘mathematical tables, rulers, calculators, rubbers, pencils, and pens.’ Because students are required to have all of their materials for the entire term, this is a great business season for Wilson!

Wilson is also proud that through the success of his business, he has been able to hire an employee. Creating employment for the unemployed members of his community is something that Wilson has dreamed of since starting his business, and now he is seeing this dream come to fruition. Wilson shares, ‘He thanks me as he had no job in the process, so thanks for putting a smile in his eyes.’

Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Wilson to be able to employ their own community members? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs.

Going Back To His Roots

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Stanely Njoroge, was born into a large family as the third born of a family of eight. As a child he was able to attend Kimorori Primary and and afterwards completed Kariguini Secondary where he received his KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) in 2008. Not having the funds to attend college, Stanley decided to start farming. Then, he received an opportunity to work at his uncles shop. Sadly, in 2015 the shop was attacked my robbers, stealing both money and shop inventory. This meant that his uncle would not be able to pay him, leaving him to find an alternative source of employment.

While the situation of being on his own wasn’t ideal, Stanley was able to make observations and come up with a simple business idea to get him started with entrepreneurship. His idea was to start selling plastic bags in the markets and in small shops throughout his town.

He explains his idea as he shares, ‘My business is selling plastic bags in the market and small shops. I chose this business because many people use plastic bags for carrying simple things from the market and shops, and it needed a small amount of capital.’

While he was able to get himself up and running, Stanley quickly realized that he would need an influx of cash to keep growing and hire additional workers, growth that he wouldn’t be able to make happen on his own. However, with the help of Zidisha, he’s been able to grow and expand.

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $100, Stanley was able to use 60% of the loan to increase his inventory and 40% of the loan to open a kiosk and hire an additional worker.

By the end of the year, Stanley was already coming up with new ideas for how to grow his business. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he was able to raise, $190. He used $50 of the loan to purchase additional inventory and used the remainder to buy a bicycle which he would be able to use to make transporting his inventory easier, rather than having to walk long distances.

By April 2017, Stanley was pleased with where his business was headed and was also appreciative for the increase in his standard of living. As he prepared for his third Zidisha funded loan, he shared, ‘My plan is to add all kinds of plastic bags in my business and to increase my stock at large. 1kg, 2kg, 3kg and 4kg will cost me $100. Also, I will add plastic hand bag known as Marlboro which will cost me $50. I will also buy v 22, v15, and v30 and that will cost me $50. I’m also planning to employ a coworker who will help me to supply bags from shop to shop which will increase my profit and save my time.’

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Like many other Zidisha entrepreneurs, Stanley eventually decided to pivot and move into a different business, going back to his roots, farming. With the help of a $337 loan from Zidisha lenders in July 2017, Stanley was able to purchase quality cabbage seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and a second hand water pumping generator. He also put a little money aside for land preparing costs and labor expenses as well.

Most recently, as of September 2019, Stanley is continuing to work hard and is still farming. With a September loan of $337, Stanley will be able to continue preparing his land, purchasing additional seeds, buying herbicides, fertilizer, pesticides, and tools. In addition, this loan will also enable him to buy a smartphone to help him run his business and he also requires some manual labor help.

On September 2, 2019, Stanley shared this encouraging update with his lenders, ‘My previous loan has helped me to improve my living standards and has helped me to raise my family and pay school fees for my siblings and also my parents in the village.’

Would you like to be able to help an entrepreneur like Stanley take his or her business to the next level? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners,

 

The Spirit of Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Anthony Ludeki says that he grew up with “a bigger vision, a bigger mind, a dream to become a medical surgeon…” He was able to continue his education and graduated from high school, and while he didn’t go on to become a surgeon…he’s still been able to infuse his dreams and vision into a new direction, entrepreneurship.

As a new entrepreneur, Anthony dove into the world of business by selling eggs and rearing chickens. In entrepreneurship, mindset is a key piece of the puzzle. Knowing that at least half of businesses fail is often enough to keep many dreamers from ever starting a business at all. Luckily for Anthony, he has the mindset that it takes to be successful. He even used his vision to grow his chicken rearing business from one chicken to 3000 hens.

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Then, after seeing success with his first business, he has now entered into the entertainment business where he sells movies, cassettes, DVD’s, and CD’s. This primarily consists of Gospel and Secular songs, as well as TV series.

And if that wasn’t enough, he shares, ‘I also run a video show where I show movies apart from selling them. Currently the generation that surrounds the environment where I stay is youthful. I mean 70% of my neighborhood consists of the youth who like watching such things, therefore it’s very worthwhile to sell them at affordable prices.’

Anthony first started working with Zidisha in 2015 and was able to go big with an initial loan of $252. While he’d already done well in his previous ventures, he found himself ready to diversify. At the time, he was selling DVD’s but imagined opening up a video show but lacked the capital to purchase the necessary television screen and DVD reader to make it happen.

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As a new borrower, in July 2015, Anthony was already witnessing the power of the lender-borrower relationship with Zidisha as he shared, ‘Dear lenders I once again take this opportunity to thank you uplifting my business, indeed I am doing well, and I urge you to continue with that spirit of supporting us young entrepreneurs. God bless you. I am so grateful for your good work. My business has really expanded and I speak to you now I have managed to employ two youth to assist me with the job and am able to pay them 200 shillings per day. Thanks a lot and God bless you.’

Over the next few years, Anthony found his egg selling business doing well, and made the decision to add a variety of other food stuffs to his inventory by opening a small retail shop. When people buy eggs, they often purchase other common ingredients such as, flour, sugar, rice, etc. and Anthony saw this as the perfect opportunity to grow. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he raised $389 from lenders and stocked up on key items including, sugar, rice, wheat flour, and other shop goods.

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As an entrepreneur dealing with suppliers, transportation can take a large chunk of profits. For Anthony, he found himself spending more than he would like transporting his stock from his suppliers to his retail shop. He shares, ‘I have been facing difficulties in terms of transportation of my stocks which has become very costly. For instance, on eggs I place two orders a week and since I purchase directly from the poultry farm the cost of transportation is on my side, so I always part away with 4 US dollars for every trip, so in a week I have to make two trips which translate to 8 US dollars every week. Same applies to cereals since I purchase them directly from farmers, I have to incur the cost of transportation. I can purchase for instance ten 90 KG bags of maize to ferry them to my store it will cost me 10 US dollars which is costly. This transportation cost has really affected my profits negatively.’

Fortunately, Anthony wasn’t going to let this small hurdle derail his business and future. Knowing that his Zidisha lenders had come through for him twice before, he called upon them a third time to find a solution to his problem. He realized that the best case scenario would be to acquire his own transportation source, and that’s exactly what he did. With the help of a $675 Zidisha funded loan, he purchased a motorbike of his own.

Even better, a motorbike has enabled him to start supplying eggs to small businesses in remote areas, something that he never would have been able to do without his own transportation.

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While a motorbike might seem like a small change, it’s transformed Anthony’s business as he says, ‘The loan I used to buy a motorbike which has helped me positively in running my business. I use the motorbike to go and purchase my eggs I also use it to supply eggs to my customers. This has increased my daily sales thus increasing my profits.The number of eggs trays I was selling in a week before I had the motorbike, today I sell them in a day, that’s how that motorbike has changed the way I run my business. Thank you for the loan, my God bless you all as you continue supporting me financially.’

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Would you like to provide a loan that could completely change an entrepreneurs business? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read other inspiring stories just like Anthony’s.