Education building through poverty mitigation

Despite having had an education halted at eighth grade, Annah Njeri grew up with the sole belief that education correlates to responsibility and empowerment. She initially started her stationary business for the purpose of having her children’s needs met and to accumulate money for herself and her family. She has pursued a strategic business model since 1997 and has achieved considerable successes in her ventures. Below is a recent update from our Client Relationship Manager in Kenya:
Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently visiting Zidisha borrowers in and around Nairobi.
An assortment of bright colors sweep the main street of Ongata Rongai, as stalls displaying neatly piled fruits and vegetables overtake the Soko Mjinga market. Mjinga, meaning fool in English, began with only ten stalls and constant ridicule and doubt from the community. But as profits were made, ten quickly grew to hundreds, and although the name stuck, many prosperous entrepreneurs can be found here. As I walk through the narrow pathways, ripe tomatoes, juicy watermelons, pungent onions, produce galore overwhelm the senses. But if you look close enough, you’ll notice something out of the ordinary; a table enveloped in school supplies and random knick-knacks. Welcome to Annah Njeri’s shop.
Five years ago, Annah decided to start her own business, a business that promoted education. Having two children herself, she understood the importance of having educational tools readily available to all. Although pens and notebooks are the most frequent sellers, Annah is not short on textbooks, newly wrapped in plastic and in pristine condition. Calculators, rulers, even nail clippers, combs, and mirrors can also be found at her shop. Cleverly placed amongst the produce section, Annah has little competition and can reap the benefits of the heavy foot traffic brought on by the fruits and vegetables.
I met Annah before she joined Zidisha, glad to visit her again, this time a borrower and having recently received a loan. The elation on Annah’s face is obvious, as the loan came at the exact moment she needed it. School just starting this week, parents carrying handwritten school supply lists shop for their children. Throughout my visit, I often waited happily on the side as Annah assisted her many customers. Immediately upon my arrival, she showed me two big boxes, all filled with textbooks, just purchased with her Zidisha loan. Eager to pay back early, Annah wants to take out a second loan, hoping to expand her shop beyond Soko Mjinga market. Also worth mentioning is Annah’s dedication to Zidisha, as she is now learning how to use a computer (many thanks to Zidisha borrower, Josephine Nyang’au), which will allow her to deal with Zidisha matters on her own.
Hard workers are an easy find in Kenya, Annah proudly being amongst the thousands. Due to the high interest in Zidisha at Soko Mjinga market, I know I will be seeing Annah again. Annah, it was a pleasure to visit and thank you for welcoming me back. I am so happy that the Zidisha loan has helped!

A little help can take you a long way

Massamba Diouf used to run a stationary shop for a living, the profits of which would go to support his wife and two children. During a turbulent time, when he was facing strong competition, he came to Zidisha for help. His ultimate ambition was to use the proceeds of the Zidisha loan to start up a t-shirt and sports shirt business. However, he would need the clothing equipment first to make such an aspiration a reality. Sam Gant, our Client Relationship Manager in Senegal, managed to interview Mr. Diouf on the current state of his affairs:
I’m a Client Relationship Volunteer in Dakar and I visited Massamba the other day in his shop. There were basic office and printing supplies in his shop which he shares with several business partners. What he was most intent on talking about, however, was the t-shrt press that he purchased with his loan and now uses to put prints on t-shirts and baseball caps.
He showed an example of his progress with mastering the press as well as a very nice Zidisha shirt he recently designed with a Client Relationship Manager. He seemed to be doing well with his new business and mentioned that advertisement of his business was spreading slowly but surely, mostly by word of mouth. He seems most hopeful of making shirts for sporting events like football and wrestling as well as various festivals and campaigns.
Massamba lives behind the shop with his wife and two young children. He uses the profits from the store and his new shirt-printing business to support his family. He hopes to be able to save up enough with the new profits to buy certain supplies like expensive printing paper in bulk to cut costs. He also expressed interest in another loan upon the successful completion of this loan for buying in bulk for both his t-shirt press business and the boutique.