Grace and her Donkey

Grace Wanjiru

Meet Grace Wanjiru, one of our borrowers from Nairobi, Kenya. Grace is a mother of three children, and one grandchild. After the death of her husband, Grace was forced to leave her home by her in-laws. Because Grace still needed to pay for her youngest son’s education, she decided to start her own business! Grace ran a shop where she sold various household items and foodstuffs. Grace applied to Zidisha so she could purchase more items to sell in her shop, and increase her profit. However, because of high rent and low profit margins, Grace sold her business and started a new endeavor!

Our Client Relationship Manager met with Grace recently. Read about his meeting with Grace and her new business:

Grace with Joyce and her cart.

Dear lenders,

My name is Achintya Rai and I am Zidisha’a current Kenya Client Relationship Intern. On 10th March I paid a visit to Grace Wanjiru in Utawala area of Nairobi.

Grace took the loan from Zidisha to increase the stock of her shop. But the rent she was paying for her shop was quite high and the returns were not enough. So she sold that business and used the money to buy a donkey and a cart. She uses this to transport water to construction sites.

The day I visited Grace it was quite hot. She told me she transports about 20 drums of water in each trip and she is able to make 7 to 8 trips in a day. This is hard labor, especially in that temperature. But Grace seemed happy with her new business and was quite thankful to Zidisha.

Grace has three children, two of whom have finished their education. Her youngest son stays 
with his maternal grandmother in Naivasha where he is studying (Grace pays the school fee). He recently cleared the form-1 exams well and Grace was very hopeful about his future.

On my way to meet Grace, I saw a man at a bore-well (place where donkey cart owners like Grace buy water from) beating his donkey. My first impulse was to shout at him, but I resisted, being in a foreign land. He stopped when he saw me looking but it was an upsetting site. To be fair though this is very rare in Kenya. In fact this was the first time I saw someone mistreating an animal. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that Grace was extremely nice and kind to her donkey Joyce. She patted Joyce affectionately many times and unconsciously caressed her neck while talking to me. Joyce contently closed her eyes. When I asked Grace she told me that’s how Joyce caught on her sleep between breaks.

With her next loan Grace wants to buy a knitting machine to knit pullovers. These are in high demand as part of school uniforms and with many new schools coming up in the area, Grace sees this as a good opportunity.

As a last note I must inform the lenders that Joyce is pregnant and will be expecting a baby donkey in Jan next year. I hope Grace posts pictures.

Achintya

Nairobi
9th April 2012 


Joyce the Donkey


The Next Bill Gates

Aissatou TraoreAissatou Traore is a borrower living in Dakar, Senegal. Madame Traore is a widowed mother  who works to support her son and mother. Mme. Traore is a partner with the American company Forever Living, based in Arizona. Forever Living sells its aloe vera, and various other health products, through a network of independent distributors across the globe. Madame Traore sells the Forever Living products in her surrounding area to a number of customers.

Mme. Traore used her Zidisha loan to purchase $780 worth of inventory from Forever Living in order to boost her income. Tragically, thieves broke into  her home and stole all of the inventory she’d purchased. This did not stop the resolute Mme. Traore.

Read more about Madame Traore from Zidisha’s own Director Julia Kurnia, who recently wrote about their meeting in Senegal.

Dear all,

I was fortunate to have the occasion to meet with Madame Traore at the Senegal headquarters of Forever Living, a direct selling company that produces aloe vera and other natural health products. Forever Living is based in Arizona, but markets its products through a worldwide network of tens of thousands of independent distributors, including Mme Traore.

Mme Traore is the sole breadwinner for her elderly mother and fourteen-year-old son, who she hopes will have the chance to go to university in Europe or the US someday. She has a genius for marketing, and our conversation soon turned to the benefits of her products. She gave a riveting presentation, skillfully weaving international statistics, personal experience and client success stories into a mesmerizing narrative that left me thoroughly convinced that aloe vera toothpaste is, after all, a must-have staple of good oral health. 

Mme Traore used her Zidisha loan of $780 to purchase a large inventory of Forever Living products, which ought to have boosted her earnings substantially. Unfortunately, most of the inventory was lost to a thief who broke into her home and stole her stock before she had the chance to sell it. Completely out of money to buy new stock but undeterred, Mme Traore contacted her best clients one by one and offered a deal: she would give them a special discount if they would agree to pay in advance for the products, rather than upon delivery. She used the advances to restart selling, at a profit margin that was razor thin due to the discounts. She makes up for the narrow profits with volume: her notebook contains the names of several hundred clients, many of whom are located in rural villages a day’s journey from Dakar city. On the days she “goes into the bush” to deliver her products to the villages, Mme Traore wakes up at four in the morning to prepare the day’s meals for her fourteen-year-old son, and returns home as late as one o’clock the following night. This strategy has enabled Mme Traore to slowly reconstitute her working capital, while also making regular repayment installments on her Zidisha loan, which is now 78% repaid.

She seemed completely undeterred by all of these obstacles. By way of explanation, Mme Traore cited the example of Bill Gates: he started on a small scale as well, and she is simply doing the same. She is a voracious reader. On the day we met, she was reading a French translation of “The Leader in You” by Dale Carnegie. Mme Traore said she was inspired by Mr Carnegie’s idea that there is a “mine of gold” inside each one of us, and that the best way to fully realize our potential is to develop our own business. She values her freedom, and says that nothing can stop her from reaching her ambitions.

Best,

Julia Kurnia
Director, Zidisha Inc.

Future Plans…

Ouréye Faye is an entrepreneurial mother from Dakar, Senegal. She not only supports her three daughters and her son, but also the families of her brothers and sisters. Being the oldest member of her family carries many responsibilities! Mrs. Faye studied dressmaking, knitting, and embroidery, she earned degrees for each. After receiving her degrees she started her own sewing company making boubous (see picture).

Our in-country Client Relationship Manager, Stephen, recently wrote about his meeting with Mrs. Faye. Read about their encounter below:




Hello Lenders,

Friday, I had a wonderful experience with Oureye Faye. She apologized for not finishing her last payment sooner but wants to thank the lenders from the bottom of her heart for everything that she has been able to accomplish with this loan. 

Business
From the 400,000cfas loan that she received with the help of Zidisha, Madame Faye was able to buy a new sewing machine which she uses for her booba making business that is a very popular industry in Dakar. She buys her fabric from Mali because it’s the best quality and she makes boobas and sells the rest of the fabric in Senegal. She now has three sewing machines

Education.
Madame Faye has also used her money to invest in education. In Senegal, the public education system has a reputation for not being the most efficient in terms of quality and outcome. With the funds Madame Faye has earned, she has been able to put her 4 children through private school. Even though Madame Faye is married, she is the main provider of her household. She explained to me that every morning she wakes up at 5 a.m. and works until 9 p.m. The majority of her earnings are for her children, her main priority. However, she also pays for the gas bill. Even though Madame Faye is married she is obligated to work like most women in Senegal because consistent salaries are not guaranteed. One works today and possibly tomorrow.

Future Plans 
For a future project, Madame Faye explained that she would to love buy a glass door and some furnishings to organize her shop and display her work. This will also enable her to work very close to home. She has big plans for this project and is ready to take her business to the next level. 


Client Relationship Manager Intern
Stephen 



A Warm Welcoming..

Fatou Tall is a 24 year old medical student living in Dakar, Senegal. She pays for her tuition by selling cosmetic products including cologne, perfume and other bathroom products. She does all this while running a chicken coop from her home. She is quite the go-getter! After graduating she would like to sell medical products. Fatou used her Zidisha loan to buy stock for her business and has already payed 86% of her loan back!

                                                                         Fatou Tall

Read about her recent meeting with our interns below:

“Today myself and Cameron, another intern, met with Fatou and her family. Fatou is showing strong progress on her loan, with almost 80% of it paid off. Yesterday, she took out the last portion of it. She has sold almost all of her merchandise–consisting of jeans and women’s shoes at the moment, although she has also sold cosmetic products, blouses, and perfume.

Because she relies on the word-of-mouth of her friends to sell her products, she has found it difficult to balance her personal and business relationships but has grown a lot since the beginning of her loan and is now making her payments on time. She uses the proceeds from her merchandise to buy more at the central market in Dakar, Marché Sandaga, as well as to help support the seventeen members of her family. Currently, there are 6 other breadwinners in the family, working as vendors, accountants, civil servants, and electricians. However, she still finds it difficult to support her eight younger siblings–all of whom are in school, either secondary or university–as well as her elderly mother, and her baby nephew, Jacques Abdoulaye Tall.

When we walked into the house, we were warmly welcomed by Fatou. Over the course of the afternoon, we met her family, as well as various neighbors , and friends, one of whom, Dominque, is a fellow Zidisha borrower. We found Fatou cheerful and confident in her abilities both as a shrewd bargainer (she inventories in the enormous Marché Sandaga, no mean feat) and retailer. She proudly displayed the meager remains of her inventory, saying that she would have to restock far more quickly than she had anticipated.

Fatou is very motivated to pay off the rest of her Zidisha loan and ask for another one. She plans on using this second loan to continue building her business and supporting her family. Her long-terms plans involve renting a stall in the market next to the École Dior in order to have a home base for her increasingly lucrative and stable business, as well as a possible boutique, inch’Allah.”