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.


One Door Shuts and Another Opens

Another great update from Taci in Kenya!:

Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in and around Nairobi.

A brother in Nakuru has a friend in Nairobi who has a relative in the Maasai Mara. That is how the word of Zidisha has traveled throughout Kenya. The power of the word of mouth has proved its worth, for Zidisha borrowers can be found in the most unlikely places. Veronicah Munga, a lone borrower in the ghost-like town of Rironi, heard about Zidisha through a brother living in Mugaa and then again from a friend living in a neighboring village. With a little skepticism, Veronicah applied for Zidisha and is now a failthful member. 

Not long ago, Veronicah ran a hotel in the shopping center of Rironi, but due to a recent renovation project run by the Municipal Council of Limuru, Veronicah had to close her business. But as many know, some downfalls can be blessings in disguise, for Veronicah has now opened Velrojack. 

Velrojack, a combination of her and her youngest child’s name, is a small boutique selling clothes and shoes purchased in Nairobi. Through her first loan, Veronicah was able to stock her shop with such items. Boutiques are common in all of Kenya, but what sets her apart from most is Veronicah’s beautifully designed bracelets. Having five years of experience making jewelry, Veronicah creates these beaded bracelets in the evening hours, completing one per night. 

In addition to jewelry making, Veronicah has delved head first into a new venture. She quickly closes her shop and takes me to her home where her project awaits. When we arrive, Veronicah proudly shows me a table spread of bags, intricately beaded and in various sizes. These bags will be the newest item in Velrojack. Veronicah also spreads her talent throughout the community, instructing others on the art of beading. Hoping to take out a second loan soon, Veronicah anticipates buying more beads to make her jewelry and bags. 

Much like her teachings in jewelry making, Veronicah would like to share the benefits of Zidisha with others in Rironi. She comments on how technology has made the Zidisha process easily accessible and hopes to encourage others to join. 

Plans for College

Samuel Mburu

Check out this great update from Vivien when he met up with Samuel Mburu:

Hello Lenders,

My name is Vivien Barbier and I’m one of the Zidisha’s current client relationship interns for Kenya. Today I visited Samuel and his business. 

The loan helped Samuel to increase the profitability of his business. With the money he was able to buy more spare parts, so that he can repair radiator and fan more quickly. Samuel told me that Zidisha helped him a lot and that he should be able to repay the loan before what is scheduled. 

Samuel has three children, two of them are going to public school and the first one recently finished Elementary school and is trying to go to college. The college education is not free so Samuel is trying to earn enough money to allow is first born to study. I hope that his business will continue to grow so that he can make sure all his children can have a good education. I’m convinced that Samuel will manage to do it. His business seems to be working well and Samuel had a lot of work to do when I visited him.

27th June 2012
Nairobi, Kenya 

Zidisha’s P2P Platform in Action

Duncan Chege
Duncan Chege with his computers

From time to time we see great examples of how our P2P lending platform is making a real difference in someones business, and often life. There is no quantitative value that can be placed on the experiences that lenders and borrowers take part in when they are able to communicate with each other. Take for example Duncan Chege, a Kenyan business owner who has a computer school for aspiring youth. Duncan is seeking a loan to purchase two computers and a printer, the latter of which is in great demand in his area. When lender ‘Hope2012’ read about Duncan’s plan they offered some advice on the expensive, and often inflated, printer cartridge prices. ‘Hope2012’ linked a webpage to Duncan that offered some great information on printer cartridges and tips on how to find the best prices.

These interactions provide irrefutable proof that the P2P platform that was pioneered by Zidisha is working better than we could have imagined. There are other examples of this type of interaction between lenders and borrowers, but I wanted to highlight this instance for our entire community to enjoy. My hope is that other lenders will enjoy interacting with the borrowers as much as ‘hope2012’ has.

Aging Well in Kenya

David and his mother

Meet David Kamau, a Zidisha borrower from the Nakuru region of Kenya. David has several ways he earns a living. Besides working at a local school, David also has several animals that he rears. David used his Zidisha loan to purchase several dairy goats and build a structure to house his animals. David, and his mother, recently met with Achintya Rai. Read about their encounter in Achintya’s own words below:


My name is Achintya Rai and I am the new Kenya Client Relationship Manager for Zidisha.

I visited David Kamau on the 31st of Jan. Baba Joshua (as he is popularly known) is obviously one of the most popular Zidisha clients. If one were to believe his stories, he is quite ancient. But he doesn’t look a day older than 40. I asked around and the general opinion is that he is 70. I was thinking what I wouldn’t give to be as fit as him when I’m 70. Then I met his mother, who is 99. She was not only quite active (I once saw her doing the 7 km uphill trek from Mitimingi to Mugaa, from my perch behind a bike taxi) but had perfect hearing and sight.

Baba Joshua explained the science of cow-rearing to me- at what age they should be bought, at what they should be sold, how many generations further can they be interbred etc. He also explained to me how he invested his Zidisha loan and later bought a cow. His job at the Mugaa Secondary School not only gives him a stable salary, but also gives him special privileges like access to the school grounds for grazing his cows. He doesn’t have to take his cows to long distances for grazing unlike other farmers and that saves him a lot of time to look after his other animals. 

With his next loan he wants to buy maze from farmers in the crop season and store it to sell it later when the prices go up and traders from the town come looking for more produce.

His present income appears quite sufficient to pay back his loans. He has indigenous as well as German goats (which, I feel, aren’t quite as pretty as the local ones, but he was so proud of them I had to click a few pictures), chickens and now 3 cows. Like very many other Zidisha clients I have met, Baba Joshua also feels a sense of ownership for the company and also a sense of pride to be associated with Zidisha. And quite thankful to Zidisha too. 

"Zidisha is one of the greatest things…"

Dear Lenders, 

Zidisha is one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my entire life. Through Zidisha, I have comfortably bought two cows of my dreams at a total cost of over Ksh 100,000. This has been made possible due to the low interest rates and very flexible repayment periods offered. 
Zidisha borrower, James, posted this comment to his profile page today. We are elated to hear that James is happy with his loan, and was able to purchase his cows. As always, none of this is possible without our generous lenders! 

Noticed Improvements

Sammy and one of his donkey carts
Our Client Relationship Manager Achintya Rai recently met with two time Zidisha borrower Sammy Kanja in Nakuru, Kenya. Sammy runs a donkey cart transportation business in Kenya. Since receiving his first loan, Achintya has noted that he can see a real difference in Sammy’s quality of life. Check out what he said about meeting Sammy in his own words below:
Hello Lenders,

My name is Achintya RAI. I paid a visit to Sammy Kanja Nganga in Rongai area of Nakuru (Kenya) on the 28th of March 2012.

Sammy has donkeys and donkey carts which people rent from him to transport water and material. Sammy is repaying his second Zidisha loan right now. He used the first loan to buy new tyres for his cart and to repair it. With the second loan he bought another cart and donkeys. Now he has six donkeys and two carts. The names of the donkeys are- Toto, Jimmy, Tony, Kilo, John and Sammy. 
Kilo, John and Sammy are the new ones he bought with his second Zidisha loan. When I asked him if Sammy the donkey’s name was spelled the same as his, he said “like me” and added, “I do love it” as explanation. Sammy has four children (whose names I didn’t ask).

Sammy has a small shamba (farm) as well. His wife looks after it while he takes care of the donkey-cart business. He also now employs two persons to assist him in his business. He said that his life had improved because of Zidisha loans. This is something I have noticed in many cases. Second Zidisha loan onwards you start seeing a very noticeable and perhaps measurable difference in most people’s incomes, spending and lifestyles.

Sammy’s wife has studied till form-4 (secondary school) while Sammy himself has just finished primary school (Standard-8). With his enhanced income, Sammy now aspires to educate himself. He told me that he first wants to finish his form-4 and then go on to do a course in accounting so that he could take better care of finances for his business and possibly get a job in the field.

I met Sammy near the Railway Station of Rongai where he grazes his donkeys and parks his carts. I noticed that there were only three donkeys around. When I asked him he told me that the others must have got free and gone home. Apparently, whenever Sammy’s donkeys get free they go home. They reminded me of Homing Pigeons, only cuter. 

While Sammy’s Sammy was finding his way back on his own, I had to take a ride on Sammy’s bike to find mine. I wish Sammy and his family the best for their future.

14th May 2012