Watering His Crops

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

John Oloo Omolo, is a 34 year old Kenyan Accountant with a passion for farming. He was born into a large family as the seventh child of eight! After successfully completing both primary and secondary school, he made his way to the Vision Institute of Professionals where he received his accounting training. He shares, ‘For the last four years I have been practicing modern farming where I have been growing high value crops in our area, like tomatoes, onions, water melons and capsicum.’

As a busy side hustling entrepreneur, John has had his share of ups and downs. His biggest struggle initially was the challenge of maintaining a water source for his garden. While his water supply had been sufficient during the rainy season, once it was over, his water supply was limited.

The solution for John turned out to be a water pumping system! And because of his amazing Zidisha lenders, he’s been able to keep making steady progress in his side business. Starting out with Zidisha, John had 3 ambitious goals. First, he hoped to purchase a solar water pumping system. Second, he intended to install a water harvesting dam. And third, he wanted to purchase a 5,000 liter tank for water storage and irrigation.

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While he knew it would take steady and consistent work to make his dream a reality, John began with a $100 Zidisha funded loan from lenders in February 2015. In the previous year, he had planted watermelons and onions but was unhappy with his harvest due to the lack of water. He hoped that in the future he would be able to expand his harvest.

He shares, ‘My water source for this project will come from rain and I also want to build a water reserve tank of 20,000 litres and irrigation pipes to ensure that I have adequate water source for my project. In the future I would like to acquire my own land as I like farming and employ jobless people to work on the farm and improve the food production in the area as it is scarce in the dry spell, and very expensive if available.’

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After putting his first Zidisha funded loan to good use, John went to his discussion page and shared this update with his lenders, ‘I am very grateful to my lenders and the Zidisha family that have given me this memorable opportunity that I would like to share with joy and gratefulness. With this amount that I have received I plan to purchase drip irrigation pipes and a drum that I will use to irrigate on onions that I will plant in my farm. The dripping pipes will ensure that the onions I will plant will receive adequate water and also help me save on water. The drum will help me as a point supplying through the dripping pipes. Thank you again lenders.’

In terms of John’s costs and profits, he explains, ‘A case of tomatoes goes for $40.69, a sack of groundnuts goes for $139.53, and onions go for $23.25 and 1kg melon goes for $1.74. The tomatoes farm preparations and requirements cost $232.55 and the output will fetch $2,325.58. Onions preparations will cost $116.27 and the harvest will fetch $1,744.18. Groundnuts will cost $93.03 and the harvest will fetch $930.23. The melons will cost $58.13 and the harvest will fetch $1,395.34. To prepare one and a half acres of land I would spend $23.25 on seeds, $55.23 to plough, $46.50 to weed, $58.13 for manure, $116.27 for labour, pies for irrigation $232.55, $465.11 for water tank reserve, with all this in place I will be able to produce affordable farm produce and create work in our village.’

Since his first Zidisha funded loan, John has raised 3 additional loans, allowing him to continue working towards his farming goals. During his most recent loan proposal, he explained to lenders, ‘I purpose to acquire farming equipment’s a solar water pumping system, install a rain water harvesting dam and a 5,000 Liters tank for water storage and use for drip irrigation. I would also want to have drip pipes in my farm to ensure my farm works efficiently and there is no wastage of water. Part of the loan will also use it for payment of wages and buying seed, pesticides and insecticides.’

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Upon receiving his most recent loan, in May 2019, John was able to purchase seeds, pay for labor, and buy some farm equipment. He has been learning the best practices in modern farming and he appreciates that he now has an additional stream of income.  And as of June, John has also purchased a solar pump that he can now use to irrigate his garden!

He says, ‘I want to say thank you to my lenders for supporting me in boosting my farming project.’

Would you like to support another hardworking entrepreneur like John? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read similar inspiring stories!









Taking Her Business to New Heights

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Agnes Kpodovia was raised in Keta in the Volta Region of Ghana but now lives in Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo Region. She was raised in a large family with four siblings and finished her technical education from the Sunyan Polytecnic in 1990.

She shares, ‘My ability to further my education was truncated due to limited financial resources. I therefore decided to venture into trading at an early age. It was a necessity to support my other brothers to further their education, therefore, I had to go through terrible conditions in life. This made me to learn early; the skills of trading with the aim of assisting the family financially. We have been able to manage by divine providence, though things have been tough.’

While Agnes has experienced challenge after challenge in her life, they have molded her into the woman that she is today. Her business is buying and selling smoked fish, which is a trade that she learned from her mother when she was a teenager. Today she’s an experienced fish trader with over 25 years in the business!

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Agnes continues, ‘I travel over 325 km every fortnight in search of smoke fish to purchase in the Greater and Central regions of Ghana. My primary concern is the inability to find the requisite resources for business expansion. It is a profit yielding business. It has been the supportive wire of the family for three decade and with Zidisha there will be superlative expansion capital to buy more baskets of smoked fish to sell.’

In her time with Zidisha, Agnes has secured an unbelievable, 10 Zidisha funded loans! As a new borrower in 2015, she started with a $100 loan from Zidisha lenders, and just kept growing from there. As of 2019, she is now able to raise loans for over $3,000 allowing her to continually grow and expand her business.

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When Agnes is purchasing a basket of fish, she explains that a whole basket is usually full of 12 to 16 layers of small fish. Each layer costs around $84 and an entire basket costs her about $1,000.

After two years in the Zidisha community, Agnes proudly shared, ‘Thank you so much for your support my lenders. It had been a great journey together. I will buy more wholesale smoke fish to sell. You have truly changed the face of my business.’

With her Zidisha funded loans, Agnes has been able to have consistent capital to continue purchasing large quantities of fish. Her established customer base now includes: boarding schools, students, catering service providers, and government institutions.

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Agnes likes to say that her customers are ‘individuals from all walks of life.’

For Agnes, another high point in her business has been employing additional members of her community to work for her. She is proud that she has been able to provide a source of income for 3 additional workers. Throughout her years with Zidisha, she notes that her business has seen tremendous growth.

As of 2019, Agnes is continuing to thrive as she shared this update on her Discussion Page, ‘Thanks so much my Lenders for funding my loan. You are a great partner in my business. This loan will expand my business and it will help me recruit more hands. It is heartwarming to reach out to you again with my appreciation for your support in making my business flourish. I am in business by virtue of your support and I believe I will get to my heights.’

Would you like to empower a strong female entrepreneur like Agnes? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners.




Overcoming the Challenges

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I have been faced with a lot of challenges, but have been able to overcome them’ shares entrepreneur Daniel Malului of Ngong, Kenya. Growing up in a rural area, Daniel attended primary school, secondary school, and also went to college for a course in Shipping. Sadly, he wasn’t able to take the final exam, as he didn’t have the funds to pay.

Not letting this discourage him, he received an opportunity as a trainee at a 5-star hotel in Mombasa. He shares, ‘I was among the best for a period of 4 months, and they offered me a job as a reservation clerk. I enrolled for a Travel and Tourism course, an evening class, which I was able to pay for myself from the salary and saving some until I completed the Consultant level, passing the IATA exams in 2013.’
2014 was the year that Daniel decided to delve into the world of entrepreneurship. Using some of his savings, he opened a motorbike parts shop in Ngong after relocating from Mombassa. For now, his shop continues to be a side business on top of his regular employment, fortunately, his wife also helps with running the business. This provides him with the security to provide for his wife and two children, Hervey and Mary Kaveke.
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Since joining Zidisha in 2015, Daniel has secured six loans and has been able to use his Zidisha funded loans to boost his business. In addition, he’s also opened a second business, venturing into water purification. He’s employed three workers and also sponsors the local rugby club with drinking water for all of their matches!
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As a new Zidisha entrepreneur in 2015, Daniel got started with two loans. With the first, he raised $50 and with the second, $100. With the funds, he purchased spare part stock and he especially focused on tires. He shared, ‘We are approaching the rainy season here in Kenya. During the rainy season, motorbike tires record the highest sales. I would be very grateful to Zidisha lenders for considering my loan application and for helping me to achieve my dream of becoming the leading supplier of motorbike parts in my town.’

By the end of the year, the rain continued to fall, and Daniel found himself running out of inventory. Fortunately, his Zidisha lenders came through with a loan of $199 allowing him to buy additional rear shock absorbers. Buying them for $20 USD wholesale, he then was able to sell them for $40 each, making $20 USD per unit.

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In 2016, Daniel found himself really short on inventory. With two substantial Zidisha funded loans, of $563 and $1,390, he was able to re-purchase the parts that he had been lacking in his stock.

Here are some of the parts that he purchased: Sproket chain, Tube, Break Shoes, Speed Clock, Mirror Holder, Gel Battery, CDI, Tires, Side Mirrors, Batteries, Lubricant Engine Oil, Head Lights, and Steering Wheels.

He was also able to use the remainder of these loans to renew his business permit, a $120 cost, and also hire some local members of his community to help him around the shop.

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Typically, Daniel has a profit margin of at least 50% on the spare parts that he sells.

Recently, Daniel decided that he was ready for a new project, as he started in the water purification business. He shared his loan proposal with lenders in April and said, ‘Hello Lenders, first and foremost I want to take this opportunity to thank you so much for your previous loan it really did wonders to my business. My new project of water purification is on and running now and I need to purchase PET bottles in bulk for bottling drinking water. This will ensure my business is in the right gear for taking off. I kindly request you all to fund my project to enable me grow my business.Thank you and God bless you.’

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Would you like to support a motivated and hardworking business owner like Daniel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about the other amazing entrepreneurs in the Zidisha community!

Lawrence The Developer

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

With a long list of certifications and accolades, Lawrence Mugambi is a rising professional in the technology field in Kenya. He shares, ‘I graduated with a diploma in Electronics in the year 2009. I worked with the Ministry of Youth Affairs between the year 2011 to 2014 as a Technical Instructor in the field of Electrical and Electronics. I joined the Kenya Methodist University in the year 2013 as a BSC in Computer Information System student. I graduated in July 2015. I currently work as a software developer. I like programming, reading and watching documentary videos.’

Lawrence started his career with an internship at the company, White Label. White Label is a company that works with tracking softwares. He did so well that he was even offered a job with the company once his internship ended. In his current role he is working as a developer and helps to develop software.

While Lawrence found himself with a good job and income, he also dreamed of continuing his education. Fortunately, through his partnership with Zidisha, he has been able to combine his savings with his Zidisha loans to fund his education. With a $250 loan from Zidisha lenders, this set Lawrence up to pay his first trimester fees towards his program.

He says, ‘This will help me to put more effort in studies without having to worry about unpaid fees. I will be in a great position to accomplish my dream of becoming a Web developer and also to earn me a decent job in big industries. This will also help me to contribute to the community and to empower many who would wish to walk in the same path that I am in. My parents also will be free from the burden of having to pay for my fees. They will now focus on development since they will only have to spend for my brother’s fees. It will also encourage me to have a good saving plan from what am earning.’

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Catching the entrepreneurial bug, Lawrence began taking on some freelance projects of his own outside of his day job. With this in mind, he reached out to the Zidisha community for his second Zidisha funded loan in January 2017 for $251. He explained that he would use the loan to purchase a personal computer to use for his freelance work, allowing him to develop software. The additional income allowed him to pay his own expenses and to also financially help his parents who at the time were struggling in their farming business due to the lack of rain.

As Lawrence found himself achieving goal after goal, he next set his eyes on a personal dream, of building a home for himself. With the support of his Zidisha lenders, he raised, $567 and used the funds to purchase bricks. With the combined support of his own savings and income with his Zidisha funds, he predicted a completion time of 5 months.

Most recently, in June, 2019, Lawrence successfully raised an additional Zidisha funded loan for $623, enabling him to continue building his home with the purchase of iron sheets. He believes that with the iron sheets purchased, he and his family will be able to move into their new home by early August!

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He updated his loyal Zidisha lenders on June 12, as he shared, ‘Oh, wonderful. The loan will help me buy the iron sheets for the building. This will enable my family to live in a better place. May I take this opportunity to thank all my lenders for lending me the money. Thanks too to the Zidisha organisation.’

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Would you like to help an inspiring professional and entrepreneur like Lawrence? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to learn more!




Seeing Her Dreams Come True

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Regina Mary Ndegwa comes from a large family, as the second child in a family of eight people. Growing up in such a big family meant that her parents didn’t have the funds to pay for school fees for all of the children. This led Regina to start working at an early age doing odd jobs to help support her younger brothers and sisters.

Working as a “tea girl” in a local primary school, Regina was able to save up some money to start the business that she is currently running today, selling clothing. She shares, ‘I would want to see my children grow to become successful people who shall make a difference in other people’s lives. Besides working, I love taking a nature walk, meeting new friends and reading magazines during my free time.’

In her business, Regina sells both new and secondhand clothing for both women and children. When starting in business, she began by selling only secondhand clothing. This was because most people in her community could not afford to purchase new clothes, but they still wanted to look nice and put together. However, things have started to shift, as demand is slowly increasing for new clothing.

Regina first discovered Zidisha in 2015, and began with a $50 loan from Zidisha lenders. This allowed her to take the leap into adding men’s clothing to her store! She shares, ‘I intend to use the loan given to improve my stock, to start selling men’s clothes to enable me to capture a wider market and in the end realize more profits. Later on as the business grows, I intend to be importing my own stock in order to increase the profit margin and open other branches and create employment to other citizens as well.’

Since that initial loan, Regina has been able to successfully raise 6 additional Zidisha funded loans ranging from $120 to over $1,000. Each loan, enabling her to take her business to greater heights.

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A few short months after coming alongside Zidisha, Regina was ready for her second loan. With $120 from lenders, she set out to increase her inventory with a bale of head gears to match her ladies clothing, half a bale of jackets and trench coats, and a few pairs of track suits.

As Regina continued to run her business, she learned more and more about her customers likes and dislikes. One key piece of insight that she gained was that women prefer the convenience of one stop shopping. Therefore, she decided to add hand bags to her shop stock. With a loan of $262 from Zidisha lenders, she predicted that this would result in a 20% increase in profits.

By October 2015, Regina found that she was getting requests from customers for cosmetics and hair products. Therefore, she planned to give it a go, adding cosmetics, braids, weaves, and hair jelly to her inventory.

Over the following two years, Regina found her business growing and growing until she decided that her next step would be to open another location. Doing this would require a significant upfront investment of $1,000 for rent, a deposit, an annual license from the city council, a room partition, and of course, new stock! Fortunately, the Zidisha community provided her with the loan that she needed to make this dream a reality.

For Regina, an added bonus was that opening this new shop would allow her to create employment for two of her fellow Kenyans!

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As of 2019, Regina is continuing to thrive and recently received a $1,116 loan from Zidisha lenders to start offering embroidery services! With the loan, she was able to purchase all of the necessary equipment including: an embroidery machine, embroidery hoop, embroidery floss, scissors, fabric, and needles, lights, table, and a chair. With the embroidery machine, she can now offer services embroidering school uniforms, company uniforms, table matts, and even curtains.

 On Feb 26, 2019, Regina was eager to share this encouragement and gratitude with her Zidisha lenders, ‘Hello Lenders. Just a word of thank you for your continued support. It’s because of your helping hand that me and my family can now see our dreams coming true. Thanks a lot.’

As an innovative entrepreneur, Regina always has her eye on the future, thinking about how she can grow her business and continue to best serve the community members that she loves!

Would you like to help a creative entrepreneur pursue their dream? Head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring business owners like Regina.


A Creative Endeavor

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Mercy Jowi was raised as the first born in a family of five. As she was growing up, she gained some entrepreneurial experience as she worked in the family business, which was a bookshop.

However, before venturing into business as an adult, she first started as a teacher of ICT and Computer Studies. She spent 7 years as a teacher but realized that she wanted to pursue self-employment and she desired to pursue her love for graphic design. To put her dream into action, she started by enrolling in a design course and worked for a year as a Junior Graphic Designer in a design firm where she gained valuable experience.

Because of her past experience working in the family business Mercy shares, ‘”Getting into business almost came naturally for me. In 2014 I opened a stationery shop and did graphic design on the side. I used gratuity that I got from my job as a teacher. It was $1500 that I used as my capital.’

In her stationary shop, Mercy offers school, office, and personalized items. Since starting her business she has been able to diversify her products and has moved to a larger office space. She’s even added an MPESA as well, and Equity and Co-operative Bank Agency Banking.

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Within her sector, most of her items are in season year round, however, her sales are best during the school year, which accounts for 9 months out of the year.

In addition to her many gifts in business and design, Mercy is also a woman of many talents in her personal life. She is a gifted cook and likes to refer to herself as a “Chapati Specialist.” She also has a love for fashion and enjoys getting creative with thrifted, upcycled, and repurposed clothing. With each outfit, her goal is to have at least 5 different ways that she can style it.

Mercy describes how she chose her particular business idea as she says, ‘I chose selling stationery because the goods do not face the challenge of revision as textbooks which make one end with dead stock. Juices, milk and water was to meet the demand of customers who wanted alternative to sodas which are the popular soft drinks. The MPESA provided an ‘easy’ investment with capability to fit in the same premise without constrain in space. The costs I incur in running the business is rent, salary, watchman fees and electricity bills. This comes to Kshs. 19700 per month. Though there are also annual fees of licence and accountant fees.’

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With the money that she makes in her business, Mercy is able to continually reinvest in the business and also set a little aside for herself as she is currently working to build her own home!

Mercy has been with Zidisha for a little over 2 years and has been able to raise 7 loans from lenders ranging from $26 to $941. With her first 3 loans in 2017, Mercy was able to purchase whiteboard markers, exercise books, shorthand notebooks, and pens. She says, ‘The multiplier effect of reinvesting my profits will go a long way in growing my business.’

Since Mercy’s business is heavily influenced by the school cycle, by August 2017, she was in need of new inventory. As she received an $108 loan from Zidisha, this allowed her to stock up Oxford Mathematical sets. She shares, ‘This is a basic requirement for each candidate in class eight and form 4 who are going to sit for their examinations. The demand will be there and I would not want to be in a situation whereby I do not have enough sets in stock for my customers. On this loan I will add some little money so that I can get 2 cartons of the said sets. The profits I get in selling the sets will be used to stock more exercise books for the January 2018 school opening.’

As the end of 2017 rolled around, Mercy prepared to stock up on items for spring and also chose to start adding books to her product mix as well, using $658 from Zidisha lenders to help make it happen!

Mercy always likes to be well stocked and ahead of the competition as she says, ‘When I buy this early it means that when everyone will be buying at the last minute and finding much of the items out of stock, I shall already be having what I need. This means that my clients will find the items they require. ‘

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Most recently, Mercy successfully raised her largest loan to date, raising $941 in April, 2019. She explains, ‘My business has been growing and two banks approached me to offer their agency banking services. This is Equity Bank and Co-operative Bank. To be in a position to serve my clients well without disappointments of I do not have enough float or cash to honour their needs. I wish to apply for a loan to help in increasing my seed capital for the agency banking. With the introduction of the agency banking I will be able to make extra $120 per month in profits (commission). The profits (commission) will be ploughed back to the agency banks until I get to $1000 working capital.’

Would you like to be a part of helping an entrepreneur like Mercy along on their entrepreneurial journey? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read dozens of stories of inspiring Zidisha business owners.

I Salute You All

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Peter Wainaina grew up as the third child in a family of 6 and attended the local primary and secondary schools. Upon completing form 4, be began working in the teabushes as a “plucker” where he saved up enough money to attend the Kenya College of Commerce and Hospitality. As a student, he studied Computer Repair and Maintenance, and after receiving his diploma, he returned home and began farming.

Today Peter is able to operate both a livestock farming business and he also grows and sells avocados to exporters. Since he started with Zidisha in October, 2018, Peter has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans which have allowed him to pay school fees, buy feed for his livestock, fund transportation costs, and also purchase additional equipment.

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know when and how to take risks or transition to something new. Many of our seasoned Zidisha at entrepreneurs will start one business and over time will move into a different business or even expand to run multiple businesses at once.

And this is exactly what Peter did, as he started in the livestock business and later on was able to add avocado farming to his business portfolio.

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Between October and November 2018, Peter was able to raise 4 loans ranging from $1 to $45, allowing him to pay school fees and also purchase feed for his livestock.

Then, as the new year rolled around, Peter reached out to lenders for a $65 loan, he shared, ‘Due to the high demand of milk in my local area, am hoping to raise my dairy farming. Am hoping to use this loan to purchase hay for my cows in order to be able to feed them well even in the dry period when there is scarcity of grass. Am also planning to deworm them after this period of high rain to keep production at a high level.’

The following month, in February, 2018, Peter went to the Zidisha community and requested a $285 loan to purchase a chaffcutter for his business for chopping the grass for his cows. He explained that currently he used a panga to cut grass, and unfortunately it can be cumbersome, wastes grass, and requires a lot of time and energy.  He knew that the chaffcutter would make his work much easier for him to prepare the grass for his cows and that it would also help him make silage, which would increase his overall milk production.

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For Peter, he is truly appreciative of the support and encouragement of his lenders and the Zidisha community. He shares, ‘I am very grateful for your presence. You really do a great job of assistance to those who are seriously in need of help. For me, were it not for you I doubt whether I could have managed to achieve my goals and also setting others. I thank you all for being there when I needed you most. God bless you.’

Most recently, in May, 2019, Peter shared that he’d received a big order for 15,000 avocados. With an additional loan, of $370 he would be able to increase his number of deliveries per week.

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On May 13, 2019, Peter went to his discussion page and expressed his sincere gratitude for having his loan funded as he said, ‘Am humbled by your generosity my lenders. Thank you so much for funding my loan.This amount of money will help me to supply my exporters with an additional of 5000 pieces of avocados per week. This supply in estimate will give me a profit of above 3kshs per piece of avocado supplied per week. Eagerly waiting disbursement. Thank you so much.’

For Peter, his next goal is to eventually purchase his own method of transportation to be able to transport his avocados on his own. He says to lenders, ‘I salute you all for this far you have made me go.’

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Would you like to support an inspiring entrepreneur like Peter? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read story after story of perseverance!