Versatility is the key to success

Here is the latest update from our Client Relationship Manager in Kenya!
Hello, my name is Dan Cembrola, one of Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Managers. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in Nakuru and its outskirts.
Today I met with Josephine in Kahuo, a small village 25 kilometers north of Nakuru. Kahuo is a small agricultural village and is also Josephine’s birthplace. She now lives in Nakuru where she is a primary school teacher, teaching English, Swahili, and mathematics. However, she still is very interested in business and maintains a poultry business in Kahuo.
Josephine used to raise a breed of chickens that are locally referred to as “broilers.” She found that it was too costly to maintain them and purchase the type of feeds they require. To rectify this problem, she decided to use a portion of her loan from Zidisha to invest in 150 chickens that are of a breed that is indigenous to Kenya.
 
From the 150 chickens, Josephine was able to get around two trays of eggs per day. There are thirty eggs per tray, this is the method in which eggs are sold in the local markets here. Josephine sells each tray for 450 Kenyan Schillings. An income of 900 schillings today is very good in this region of Kenya, especially considering that Josephine is also employed as a teacher.
Unfortunately, Josephine suffered a setback when nearly two thirds of her chickens died due to Newcastle disease. This is an all too common problem among poultry farms in Kenya. Josephine was able to replace the chickens she had lost and has had the new chicks vaccinated against Newcastle disease. Her business is now once again operating at its previous strength. She also occasionally sells her chickens to local butchers where she makes 800 schillings per rooster and 600 schillings per hen.
In addition to purchasing chickens with her loan, Josephine also purchased four sheep. Once each sheep has given birth to a lamb, she will sell each adult sheep for a profit of 1,500 schillings per sheep. She will then raise the lambs until they older enough to give birth, and repeat the process.
Finally, Josephine also maintains a one acre farm where she grows maize. This is also where her chicken and sheep are located. She employs one local farmhand to take care of the day-to-day maintenance. With her next loan, Josephine plans to invest in the expansion of her poultry and sheep business as well as her farm.

The Young at Heart



Margaret, who is on her second Zidisha loan, was visted by one of our Kenyan Client Relationship Managers this past week. You can read about Dan’s meeting with Margaret below:

Hello, my name is Dan Cembrola, one of Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Managers. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in Nakuru and its outskirts.“I am here! I am here! I am here!” Margaret proclaimed as she deftly hopped over a small ditch on the side of the road. After a warm greeting Margaret began quickly leading to me her shop in Bahati Center, an agricultural town north of the city of Nakuru. She jumped over puddles and potholes the whole way before hopping on top of the step at the entrance to her shop. Margaret is 65 years old. Her shop is part of a building that Margaret owns. The shop sells some basic supplies and contains a storage room that she will soon fill with bags of maize from her farm to be sold through the shop. The shop also contains a soon to be operational MPESA stand. Locals use the MPESA service to send and receive money electronically. Margaret had used her first loan to purchase a sheep and has used her current loan to open the MPESA stand. Margaret’s shop only occupies a small portion of the large L-shaped building that she owns. She has created six hotel rooms with the remaining space and built one additional free standing room. She currently is renting out rooms at the rate of 600 Kenyan Schillings for a single and 1,500 Kenyan Schillings for a double. Since the new constitution was passed in 2010, the town of Bahati has become a district capital. Margaret expects to continue to enjoy full occupancy as her hotel is located adjacent to the new government office. After explaining these various business ventures, Margaret announced, “Now I will take you to my home business.” With boundless energy, she led me three kilometers down the road to her farm, where she lives with her husband. They cultivate mainly maize and tomatoes but also have sheep, goats, and a few chickens remaining after they recently sold 2,000 chicks. Margaret explained that the land they used to live on was ten acres but it was lost during the post-election violence. Since relocating to Bahati, they now only have two acres but she seemed to lament more the fact that each of her five children are now adults and working in different parts of the country. In addition to Margaret’s “town business” and “home business” she also found time to become the chairwoman of the Happy Mothers Group. This started out as a collection of five women and has now grown to seven who are all Zidisha borrowers. As Margaret escorted me the three kilometers back to town, she excitedly told me about how her family will all be returning next month for Christmas, a happy mother indeed. 

The Young and the Restless

Even with a primary level education, Benard Njoroge still manages to use the investments in his education to build a sustainable life for himself and his family. His occupation as an electrician did not detract him from seeking out a Zidisha loan to engage in farming and the purchase of livestock. His wife is also a farmer and together, they make a power team. Below is a recent account of the duo family business run by Mr. Njoroge and his wife:
Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in Kenya.
The youths of Kenya have had the advantage of growing up in the ubiquitous world of technology. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, many young entrepreneurs dive head first into the business of digital entertainment. What many believe only to exist in developed countries is easily accessible in the most unlikely places.
Twenty-six year old, Benard Njoroge, resides in the sleepy village of Waka, Rongai. A single dirt road stretches for miles, and the only sounds are those of nature and the occasional comings and goings of motorbikes. Unbeknownst to a newcomer, one would never guess Bernard’s cinema and electronic shop operate alongside the lone road leading to Waka. Made out of thatched mud and pillars of wood, the interior of Mr. Njoroge’s shop is well stocked with cell phone covers, chargers, earpieces, and multiple tools for electronic repairs. Trained by a friend, Benard opened his shop three years ago. Behind the shop lies his cinema. Tiered wooden benches cover it’s floor, while a few lucky viewers can enjoy some added comfort on recycled car seats. Arriving too early, I unfortunately cannot catch a glimpse of today’s feature presentation of Moon Monster, a Chinese kung fu film. At 10 bob a viewing, Chinese flicks are of the most popular showings, for who can resist those classic Jackie Chan fight scenes.
 
Referred to Zidisha by fellow borrower, Sammy Kanja, Benard received his first loan in August. With the loan and income of his two businesses, Benard is now the proud owner of a plot of land. Currently living with his father, Benard hopes that a second Zidisha loan will assist him in building a home for his family. In lieu of a house, Benard’s wife planted maize and beans on their newly acquired shamba, which she tends to while he manages his electronics shop and cinema.
Having only a couple of hours in Waka and more Zidisha borrowers to visit, my time with Benard was brief. Although short-lived, the impact of Zidisha on Benard and borrowers of a younger generation provides strong insight into the future of Kenya, for when given the opportunity to strive for something greater, there are no shortcomings of hard work, dedication, and innovation.

This is the link to the borrower’s Zidisha profile

Fighting Crime in Bahati



Here is a recent update from Dan in Kenya. He met with Joel Mwangi this past week and was able to see what Joel’s Zidisha loan has done for him. Be sure to check out Joel’s profile page if you’re interested in learning more about him.


Hello, my name is Dan Cembrola, one of Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Managers. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in Nakuru and its outskirts.

I visited Joel at the place of one of his businesses in Bahati. It is evident that Joel is a natural community leader, and a well-respected one at that. His most idealistic long-term goals are eradicating poverty in Bahati. Toward that end, he has used his Zidisha loan to expand his farm and invested in higher quality fertilizer and seeds to ensure that his crops will be healthy and bountiful. Joel strongly advocates the use of high quality seeds and fertilizer to his neighboring farmers. He evidenced his point clearly as he gave me a tour of his village, pointing out which farms were able to afford fertilizer and quality seeds. 

In an effort to advance his community, Joel is selling a portion of his land that he has tilled and prepared for the next growing season to a neighbor. His intent is to give his neighbor an opportunity to begin a small farming business to help support his family. Joel regularly advises members of his community on improving their fertilization and irrigation practices. With the now abundant crops Joel is growing with his loan from Zidisha he has been able to employ laborers in Bahati to assist him and his wife during the harvest season. 

In addition to operating a three and a half acre farm, Joel also serves as chairman of the group of motorbike operators in the region. In the past few years, there has been a rise in the incidence of common thievery in Bahati, many crimes were committed with the aid of motorbike drivers. With the assistance of the local police force and the support of his fellow motorbike drivers, Joel was elected chairman of the group. As chairman, Joel has instituted a policy that mandates that every motorbike driver must have a registered identification card which is displayed to all of their customers. This measure has provided a sense of accountability to the motorbike operators and allows their customers to be confident that each driver is registered and approved by the local government and police department. 

A Little Caution Never Hurts

Leah Wanjiku Muniu is a married woman with three sons. She is a diligent worker within her farming business where the bulk of her income is derived from products such as milk and cereals like maize and wheat. Over the next few years, she intends to cultivate her farming skills so as to maximize her yield; she intends to do this by adding two more dairy cows. A week ago, our Client Relationship Intern for Kenya, Vivien, visited Mrs. Muniu to inquire about her progress and the benefits she is acquiring from her Zidisha loan. The encounter is described below:


Hello Lenders,

My name is Vivien Barbier and I’m a client relationship interns for Zidisha in Kenya. Today, I had a meeting with Mrs Leah Muniu and she showed me the path to her maize and wheat fields.

I meet Mrs Muniu in Karunga village during a meeting organized by current Zidisha borrowers to present the organization to future members. I’m very grateful to her for coming to the meeting. She agreed to share her experience with Zidisha with others. I think that she made a better job than I did to convince others of the advantages of Zidisha. It was wonderful to see how much enthusiastic she was about Zidisha. She explained me that people like her never go to bank because of the high interests rates but also because of the collaterals that are required. She even told me: “I prefer to stay poor than to go to these banks”. She is also grateful to Zidisha because it has been for her an “eye opener” on the rest of the world. It pushes her to learn how to use computers and interact with people outside her community. 

Mrs Muniu has inherited 5 hectares of lands for her parents and she is renting 3 hectares from another villager. In February, after having paid the school fees of her three children, she didn’t have money anymore to buy seeds for her fields. She was planning to rent her fields to other farms in order to earn at least a small profit.. But then, in March, she has received Zidisha’s loan and things changed. She was able to buy maize and wheat seeds for her 8 hectares. As you can see on the pictures, the crops have grown well since then. The harvest season should start in October and we calculated that her profit should be approximately 45 000 Shilling ($535) in only six month. This profit almost equals the amount of the loan she took. It shows that microcredit loans can be the nudges to start a sustainable activity that will then be able to finance itself. This is very encouraging for the future of Mrs Muniu business. 

Regarding the future, Mrs Muniu hopes that she will be able to buy enough fertilizer for all her fields. This year she didn’t have the money to buy enough of it, so the yield of her fields is not optimal. 

It was a real pleasure to spend a few hours in her company; she is a very smiling and lively person. She made me meet many other villagers and taught me a lot about Kenya. At the end of the meeting, she offered me a delicious Kenyan tea prepared with fresh milk from her own cow and fresh tea leafs.

 

Tailoring in Munanda

Stephen in front of Irungu Modern Tailoring


Stephen in his shop

Stephen Irungu is one of our Kenyan borrowers living in the town of Munanda. At 25 years of age Stephen is quite busy running a tailoring business to support his young family. Stephen designs pants, shirts, skirts, and alters them as needed. For all of his hard work Stephen earns a profit of about $2.38 per day. While Stephen is a tailor by trade, he also farms to make money on the side (like many other Kenyans do). If his loan is funded (this will be his second) then Stephen will be able to stock his store with clothing during the upcoming harvest season. One of our Client Relationship Interns was able to visit Stephen last week. You can read about their meeting below in her own words:


Thursday, July 4, 2012

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. 

I was welcomed into the town of Munanda today by Stephen Irungu, the proud owner of Irungu Modern Tailoring. It’s hard to miss his quaint shop, even amongst the many businesses blooming in the Munanda, for hanging on his door is a brown all-leather suit created by Stephen himself. 

In 2005, Stephen started Irungu Modern Tailoring with only one sewing machine. With this flourishing business, he now has three sewing machines, an iron, and also employs three people. It is also a family business, for his wife often times assists with the ironing.

This is his second Zidisha loan and he plans on creating a boutique for the people of his village, the first of its kind in Munanda. With the funds, he hopes to buy clothes from Nakuru and sell it in shop. His passion for fashion is evident, as he describes his store not merely as a job, but a hobby and his happiness.

After my visit to his shop, Stephen kindly took me around his village, showing me various shops and introducing me to friends. He even assisted me in finding some much needed supplies that cannot be found in Mugaa, the village I am residing in. 

Best of luck with your loan Stephen. It was a pleasure meeting you. 






Staying Busy in Senegal

Serigne

Serigne Mbacké Guèye is a young sheep farmer from Sema, a village in Senegal. Serigne has raised sheep since he was a small child, and has grown quite fond of the profession. His sheep are especially popular during certain Muslim feasts. Serigne originally wanted to purchase 20 sheep, some feed, veterinary services, and a shepard to watch over his flock while he works in Dakar. His Zidisha loan has allowed him to buy the additional sheep and pay for the other related costs. In addition to paying for his farming related activities, Serigne was able to invest in a street boutique! While he was is in Dakar our Client Relationship Intern Sam Gant had a chance to meet up with Serigne. Below you can read what Sam wrote about their meeting.

The Mosque where Serigne works part-time.

Dear Lenders,

My name is Sam Gant and I’m one of the Client Relationship Managers active in Senegal right now. Today I met with Serigne at the mosque where he works in the genteel Point E neighborhood, and in only a few hours received a dizzying and informative tour of the Mosque, Serigne’s home, and the neighborhood in general. Serigne remains engaged in a diversity of industries–he primarily divides his time between doing upkeep work at the mosque and working at his store Parapluies Mondiales in the HLM market. Although he continues to buy food for his sheep he has stopped expanding the flock that his family maintains in the village. 

He explained that business has been slow following the tumultuous elections, and he expects that he will be able to maximize his loan once the commercial climate improves. He anticipates a significant financial boost in the fall as clients begin buying sheep for a number of upcoming festivals, but for the time being the flocks need time to mature. He was very appreciative towards the Zidisha lenders and hopes to keep you apprised of future developments. 

-Sam Gant