“I Hope This Loan Will Change My Life….”

Lucky 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Lucky Nguna is living a life that is reflective of his name, Lucky. However, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had his share of challenges along the way. He worked his way up to high school, but like many students in Kenya, when we could no longer pay the school fees, he was forced to withdraw. Fortunately, leaving school was not going to disempower Lucky from pursuing a great life. Shortly after, he moved to Mombasa, and secured a job as a cleaner in a cybercafe. In this position, he was able to work hard and train in computers. His hard work and dedication evidently paid off as one of his clients gave him a used photocopier machine and one computer. This generous gift was what allowed Lucky to start his own business.

He shares, “First, I operated in a small bureau, in my bureau I did photocopy and typesetting but the competition was high due to many and well equipped bureaus around. The profit that I got from the shop was very low, couldn’t cater for my life expenses. That’s why I was seeking a loan to upgrade my bureau with more computers and stationery.”

Lucky 8

And through that pain point of needing additional capital to pivot and upgrade, he found Zidisha. With his first two Zidisha funded loans of $50 and $93, he was able to purchase an Epson printer to print high quality pictures.

A few months later, in November 2015 and May 2016, Lucky combined his next two loans of $179  and $361 to purchase a computer. Then, the remainder of the loan was used to pay his son’s school fees for both terms. Optimistic about his potential and the generosity of his lenders he say, ‘I hope this loan will change my life..’

Lucky 7

In May 2016, Lucky shared with lenders, ‘Dear lenders, thank you very much for your support in my life. I also thank God for giving you this clean heart for helping people worldwide. The other loan I have completed it was for my Son’s school fees and to buy a new computer for my bureau, I managed to pay for my Son’s fee but I didn’t manage to buy the said computer because my Daughter was sick and I used the money for my Daughter’s treatment. Am very sorry for this but I hope to make it you fund me with this loan. God bless, regards.’

On July 11, 2016, Lucky professed his gratitude as he shared, ‘Dear Lenders, I thank you very much for your support towards my loans, the loan I received I bought a bicycle for my Son and I will buy a computer as I said when I was applying for the loan. You can have a look at the picture I took of my son with the bicycle.’

Lucky 6

In 2016, Lucky made the decision to diversify his business ventures as he pursued an additional business, sugarcane juice. He is able to crush 50 pieces of sugarcane in one day. Lucky explains, ‘One pc of sugarcane is sold at kshs. 35 at our nearby market (Kongowea). 50pcs = Kshs. 1,750/= and when I sell the juice I get Kshs. 5,000/=.’

Lucky purchased his sugarcane juice machine on credit and requested a $538 loan from Zidisha lenders to finish paying for the machine. He shares, ‘I have seen a potential opportunity in this business because it is giving me weekly profit of Kshs. 3,000/= (USD 29 ) after selling 100pcs of sugarcane. My dear lenders please assist me to make my dream true.’

Fortunately for Lucky, his lenders continued to pull through for him as he successfully raised his next loan in March 2017 for $796, using this loan to purchase an electricity driven machine. This would make his work easier and would allow him to make more money. With this loan he also employed a young boy to help him in his business.

Lucky 4

Most recently in February 2018, Lucky raised $525 from lenders as he explains the need for this loan, ‘Am requesting for a loan to buy another Sugarcane crusher machine. The machines costs Kshs. 50,000/= that is equivalent to USD 497 for the current rate, the machine is made in Thailand / China and it is good. I got another place though it is open place same like the other place I operate this business, at old place I do crush 70 pcs a day because the business is doing good in this hot climate, and I hope a new place I can crush like 40 to 50 pcs a day, that can give me a good profit. I hope after opening this small business can help me take care and educate my kids and also 3 orphans of my late brother who died in 2016. The kids are in high school and I am the one who pays for their school fees. So I hope extending this business can help me manage to educate those children.’

It’s hard to imagine the feelings, emotions, and pride that must come up for Lucky, being able to support his family and furthermore, to support his brothers children in pursuing a high school education. The same education that two decades before was taken away from him, because of a lack of funds. Lucky’s life has certainly come full circle and whether it’s pure luck, his name, hard work, or a combination of all three, I think Lucky would agree that these loans have indeed changed his life as he dreamed they would.

Would you like to be a part of a story like Lucky’s? Head on over to our Lend page and find out how you can contribute to a loan that will change someone’s life!


Laying a Solid Foundation

Wahyu 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wahyu Setiawan is an entrepreneur in the field of brick making for building materials. He has now maintained his business for 4 years. He learned the skill of brick making from his father and eventually was able to open his own brick factory.

He shares that, ‘since graduating from school I worked in an automotive company as an administrative staff, but I prefer to work outdoors so I have been learning how to produce bricks from my parents. My business initially experienced many obstacles such as failed production because of the inadequate composition of brick-making materials to the weather factor, but I have learned from those experiences and give me the spirit to try to correct the mistakes that happened and got better. Besides that I also want to earn my own income as an entrepreneur and as the head of the family should be able to meet the needs of my family because now I’m married.’

The area and land around his home is surrounded by hills which provides the perfect ingredients for brick making. In addition, there is currently a high demand for bricks in his city as new infrastructures and buildings are constructed. An additional advantage is that his business even allows him to play an important role in protecting the environment as his business is able to use the waste from other factories such as ash from plywood factory waste as raw materials in making the bricks.

One of the most significant ways that Zidisha entrepreneurs are able to help their own community members is by employing them to work in their businesses. And in fact, this is exactly what Wahyu is able to do. He notes that this is helpful because this way his community members are able to work locally rather than traveling long distances to bigger cities to find work.

Wahyu shares, ‘Until now I have 4 employees to help make bricks, on average I can produce 1500 – 2000 pcs of bricks per day and after going through the combustion process sold at a price of IDR 500 per piece, in 1 month I can sell 25000 – 35000 pcs of brick with a net profit of around IDR 7.500.000 per month, I am grateful because of this effort can meet the needs of the family, pay the salaries of employees and pay the Zidisha installment on time. With more demand for bricks it will require me to work harder to meet market demand and to provide more jobs. My full time employees work from Monday to Saturday each week and are off on weekends so they can take time out to rest and get together with their families. I want to create a comfortable working environment so they can work well.’

With his first 5 Zidisha funded loans between November and December 2017, he was able to buy basic brick making ingredients such as, ‘soil, sand, and firewood to burn the bricks.’ These loans allowed him to meet the ever increasing demand as new buildings went up in his city.

He then successfully raised 4 more loans beginning with a $58 loan in February 2018 through a $321 loan in April 2018. Each of these loans were similar in purpose as he continued to purchase more raw materials including: land, sand, and ash, with the remainder of the loan being used for daily operating expenses. During this time, he was also able to use a portion of his Zidisha funded loan to employ one other worker to keep up with the increasing demand. He was even able to re-pay his April loan faster than expected because of the influx of unexpected orders!

It’s clear that Zidisha and lenders have truly impacted the lives of Wahyu, his family, and community as he says, ‘An infinite thank you to Zidisha and the lenders who have funded my loan. I will use this loan as best I can on my brick business so that it grows well and can pay Zidisha’s installments on time. Thank you for your trust, your help is increasingly motivating me to continue to work better for the happiness of my family and our employees. God bless you all.’

Then, less than a month later, on May 1, 2018, Wahyu shared another update and also detailed part of the brick making process as he explained, ‘Greetings Zidisha and lenders, to continue my previous business update, the brick that has been cooked after the burning process is not a hot temperature anymore so it is ready to be dismantled and sent to each consumers. Bricks that are not ripe perfectly (blackish color) or that are still raw will be re-burned in the next combustion process so that it can mature normally again (reddish color), in this way then no bricks are thrown away.’

Would you like to help a hardworking entrepreneur like Wahyu? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories about similar business owners and the big changes that they are creating in their communities all over the world.

The Solo Poultry Farmer

Owusu Bismark 5

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Bismark Owusu was raised in a town in the eastern region of Ghana called Suhum. Born in 1988, he completed secondary school as his highest level of education. After finishing secondary school, he chose to start his own business. Initially, he had planned to start a poultry farm, but due to financial restraints, he put that goal on hold and started rearing snails instead. He continued to rear snails for 5 years before moving on and fulfilling his dream to pursue poultry farming.

He shares, ‘People here are respectful. The main occupation in my town is marketing. I really like learning so I used to do personal studies about agriculture.’

Rearing fowls, when Bismark started, he had 100 chicks and found he had a problem. As a solopreneur, he had too many customers and not enough to offer them. Thus, through his partnership with Zidisha he has been able to raise the necessary funds to expand and grow his business over the past two years. Bismark also shared that he chose to enter the poultry farming business because no one in his community was currently doing this which gave him a significant competitive advantage.

Owusu Bismark 3

Through Zidisha, Bismark has been able to raise 3 loans so far, starting in June 2016 as he raised $200. At the time, he was ready to expand his poultry farm from 100 to 300 chicks. By tripling his number of chicks, he was aware that he would also need to significantly increase his stock of feed, drugs, equipment, etc. to keep his farm functioning efficiently.

A few months later, he requested his second loan for $399 which allowed him to continue purchasing feeds, vaccines, a trough, a feed box, and other important items. Then, the following year, in June 2017, Bismark successfully raised his next loan of $557. He was able to use part of the loan to continue purchasing additional feeds, vaccines, and equipment. Then, with the remainder of the loan he was able to purchase a wheelchair and clothing for his disabled father to help care for him. At the time, he also shared with his lenders that ‘my fowls are in good shape now due to that I have got many customers.’

Over the summer, Bismark was proud to update and thank his lenders as he wrote on his discussion board, ‘I really appreciate the way you care about me as your brother for lending me this loan to continue my poultry. I will use it to buy feeds, vaccines, equipment which will help my birds from diseases and put them in a good shape. May God bless you all Zidisha lenders. My poultry is ongoing successfully thanks to Zidisha lenders.’

Then, at the end of 2017, on December 20 he excitedly shared, ‘The loan help me to buy 20 bags of feed for my poultry.’

Would you like to impact a family or community like Bismark’s? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read about other business owners in Africa  and around the world who are using entrepreneurship to change their communities.


Playing the Long Game

Elizabeth Raya 3

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As the youngest child of Joseph Raya and Rachael Umazi, Elizabeth Raya started her education at Mazeras Primary School in Kenya. Afterwards, she moved on to continue her education at Mazeras Polytechnic where she studied dressmaking and tailoring. Once she graduated, she began her working life as a machine operator in a textile company in her hometown of Mazeras, where she continued working from 2003-2009. During that time, she conceived of her current business which is selling fish.

Elizabeth saw a clear hole in the market with this business opportunity as she shares, ‘Many people here at Mazeras are working in companies so they have no time to fry fish for themselves so when they come out from their job they just pass buy buying fried fish and go home for lunch or supper.’ In addition, she saw this as a business that would do well because of the high population. With this business, she is able to make a nice profit that allows her to support her family and pay school fees for her children, as her children would like to be doctors when they grow up! Even as a busy entrepreneur and mother, she still loves to ride her bicycle when she gets the chance.

One of the amazing aspects of Zidisha is that some entrepreneurs choose to raise funds to not only grow their existing businesses but to also pivot or to try starting a second or third business as well. As our world continues to change, many people find that relying on one single income stream can be both stressful and often unrealistic. This way, if one income stream is either seasonal or has a poor month or period, you are not completely reliant on one source of income to pay your bills or feed your family.

And this is exactly where Elizabeth’s story continues. In addition to operating her business selling fish, she also envisioned building a house that could serve as a rental property creating a steady stream of income. While she knew that there would be a significant amount of upfront costs and work, she had a vision that the long-term benefits would outweigh the initial costs.

So far, she has raised seven Zidisha funded loans to assist her in the building of her rental property. These loans range from $22 to $1,523 and span from October 2016 through April 2018. With her first three loans, all under $65, she was able to start the building process by purchasing building sand, building stones, building chips, cement, and iron sheets.

By the summer of 2017, she was making steady progress with the house and raised her next two loans used to purchase 30 pieces of iron sheets, timbers for roofing, additional cement and building stones, nails, and money to set aside for labor costs. Shortly thereafter, in August, with a Zidisha funded loan of $1,120, she was ready to purchase doors, windows, and more cement.

Then, on August 27, she excitedly shared, ‘Tenants are asking for rooms meaning that immediately after the house is finished I will get tenants.’ Then, a few months later, in November she also commented that, ‘My business is doing quite well.’

In March 2018, Elizabeth was proud to share this update with her lenders, ‘Dear lenders, l purchased windows and doors for my rental house. I now want to fix them and do the finishing for my rental house. I expect to get 60$ per month. I also used part of the loan to my business and I used the increment to pay school fees for my children. My family is now happy to see the house is almost complete and they are not missing school because of school fees. I say thank you to all lenders and the entire Zidisha team.’

Elizabeth Raya 1

Most recently, In April 2018, she secured her largest loan yet, $1,523 to purchase additional building materials, build a pit latrine, connect water to the house, and connect electricity to the house.

Often in life, people are looking for a shortcut, or the fastest path to success. Unfortunately, it’s often the long game that is the most fruitful. While it’s been a long journey for Elizabeth maintaining a business and her building project with her rental property, it appears that all of the work and dedication will soon be paying off for her.

Elizabeth Raya 2

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Elizabeth? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read about the rest of our inspiring borrowers!

Baking Up a Storm

David M 1

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

David Maina grew up in a small village in Kenya called Mahiga. As a child, he reached grade 8 but was then forced to withdraw because of a lack of funds for school fees. He soon after left home in order to work and make a living in a selfless act to leave space at home for his other siblings. He also knew that if he found a job he would be able to assist his parents financially and help his siblings to attend school.

For his first job, he worked for big farm owners and consistently worked and saved for three years and at that point, had saved enough money to purchase a bicycle. Upon acquiring the bicycle, he was able to sell local vegetables door to door. Later on, as sales started to dwindle during the dry season, he switched things up by cooking half cakes called Kangumus.

In addition to running a business, he is a devout family man, as he is married and also has seven children. Five of his children are currently in school. He and his wife are also raising three of his sisters children as well. When he’s free, he loves reading the Bible with his kids. He also shares that, ‘Through Zidisha lenders I have a house for my family.”

David M 3

Currently, in his business, David bakes cakes, teascorns breads, buns, and doughnuts. In addition, his kiosk also offers beverages such as, ‘teas, coffees, juices, and sodas.’ He holds a huge competitive advantage in this area because the nearest competitor is at least 10 km away, allowing him to offer the service of convenience. He explains, ‘I trust and believe people must eat to live. So I decided to bring a unique product. I usually make 1500 to 1700 kes daily and save a third of my daily profit. I use my profit in food supplement, to pay school fees for the children and to buy small sheep and goat and rear them to sell when they are big enough. I also used to give 2000 to 3000 kes to my old parents to cater for their household.’

So far, David has raised six Zidisha funded loans, starting in July of 2010 when he raised $392 to increase his stock of maize and beans. The following year, he obtained a second loan of $710 in June of 2011 to once again boost his stock of beans.

By 2012, David was excited to share his big plans for expansion within his business. In August 2012, he shared, ‘As business is booming in this harvesting season, I am intending to upgrade my retail shop to a wholesale shop for some domestic items such as sugar, rice, varieties of flour, soaps and detergents among others to the customers satisfaction. My premises has enough storage capacity for the new venture. I anticipate to broaden my customers base to include those having small kiosks in the locality since there is no any other wholesale business in the area. Currently, all business people rely on wholesalers in Nakuru town which is about 50 km away. Going by the current trend of businesses around and the growing demand for general domestic items, am sure a stock worth sh 90000 will generate a profit of about sh 15000 within at most two weeks. A second purchase of a similar worth leaves me with a profit/ income of sh 30000 per month. Am confident that I will service my loan comfortably.’

In August of 2013, David returned to Zidisha lenders with an entirely different venture in mind. This time, he was ready to combine his own savings and a Zidisha loan of $1,082 to build a house for his family.

David M 5

With a thriving business, family, and a new home, David set out to improve the quality of his equipment in his business. With his following two loans of $945 and $1,217 in August 2015 and April 2018, he purchased a mixer machine and electric ovens. David explains, ‘I want to buy a mixer machine that costs 980 dollars. With this machine, I will be able to mix flour/dough and I will be able to produce more baking products of high quality. The machine will be quicker and will save time, and it will also reduce costs incurred in hired labor. I will be very grateful for I will promote my business to the new era of Digital from analog. For as for now I am doing it manually.’

He also knew that the addition of the ovens would be a smart move for a number of reasons. First, it would allow him to stop using charcoal which badly affected his wife. In addition, the new ovens would be more environmentally friendly. Finally, the price of electricity would allow him to save about 40% compared to what he’d been spending on charcoal.

David M 2

David is always at work to make positive and incremental improvements and changes to his business. Taking advantage of new innovations and opportunities has allowed him to excel and become a leader in his local community. In addition to leading his business and community, he is also leading his family well as he recently shared this exciting news, ‘My Ecd young girl was leading in her class, losing only 15 Marks out of 500. That really made me proud of her.’

As one of many change makers in Africa, make sure to check out our Lend page to read about other Zidisha entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo around the world.

A Business Power Couple

Abigael 2

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Abigael Nyapela attended Ebusybui Primary School and as she got older, moved up to Ebusyubi Secondary School. Upon graduation, she helped her mom sell vegetables until she was able to save up the money for her own shop.

She shares that in her area most people are poor peasant farmers and that they struggle to make ends meet. However, she continues, “and through all these problems, they still make it in life.” In her business, Abigael sells both food and household items.

In addition to her responsibilities as a business owner she also is a wife and mother to a little girl who dreams of being a doctor someday. She notes that she and her husband try as hard as they can to make their daughter’s future dream come true. Her daughter is currently in nursery school. And while she has free time, Abigael enjoys reading novels and educational materials.

Her husband is also a business owner and has a local computer shop where he offers computer and photocopy services, video shooting and editing services, and computer repair services.

Abigael 1

They’ve even started an additional business together where they have a tree seedling nursery where they sell trees to people and institutions. This has also been a great venture that has helped them to add additional capital to each of their respective businesses.

So far, Abigael has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans and has also maintained a 99% repayment rate. With her first two Zidisha loans of 2015 for $100 and $197, she was able to purchase bulk quantities of food items for her shop including: ‘Tropicana, Jambo, sugar, rice, and flour.’

A few months later, in October 2015, she shared with lenders, ‘You have been so wonderful to me and since I joined Zidisha I have been working towards my set target goals which I never set before I joined here. This has made me to work so hard and keep my promises to myself and trustful with your funds always. Today I am making my 3rd loan request and I promise to repay back in time. When I receive the loan funds I will use the money to buy these items for my retail shop.’ With this loan, she was once again able to increase her stock of sugar, rice, cooking oil, flour, exercise books, vaseline, and bread.

By 2016, Abigael was once again ready for her next loan to increase her shop stock. This time, she successfully raised $613 and purchased some new items such as, ‘bar soap, teal leaves, salt, spices, soda, and cooking oil. Then, in April 2017, she was able to raise her largest loan yet of $916. This loan allowed her to substantially increase her inventory of item such as, ‘Jambo, sugar, salad, rice, bar soap, Toss, Afia, Nuvita, Tropicana, and tea leaves.’

As she prepared for her loan in February 2018 she shared, ‘To all my lenders and Zidisha team, I want to thank you so much for funding our loan proposals hence uplifting our living standards. Through this loan we have been able to learn so much including, how to be truthful, obedient, and responsible person in re-paying back the loans that we have been granted. Thanks so much and be blessed.’

As Abigael has been able to grow and expand her business, she has also diversified her offerings and has been able to stock new and different items. However, what has remained consistent is her passion for helping her community members with the everyday items that they need in their homes.

To update her lenders, Abigael shared, ‘Thank you so much and may God bless you all my lenders for trusting in me and my business by funding me. Your loan funds have brought a great impact in my life as a whole. You have changed everything around me. My business is booming because of your assistance. You have taught me to be a very hardworking person in my life. My retail shop is one of the few that all my customers depends on because of availability of goods which has increased my profits and customers at large. Be blessed so much.’

Abigael 7
Would you like to help empower another entrepreneur like Abigael? If so, make sure to check out our Lend page to read about our other amazing Zidisha business owners.

Outworking the Competition

Doris 4

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Doris Wanjama is a humble, hardworking, Kenyan. Without the advantages of a higher education, she has had to rely on hard work, perseverance, and a keen eye for business. In addition to being a business owner, Doris is also a wife, mother of two children, a member of the PCEA church, and a lover of Gospel music. With the help and support of her husband, she started small with a little kiosk, and over time she has been able to expand. She shares, ‘most people in my area are very social and hardworking.’

In terms of her business inventory, she sells household goods including: ‘sugar, flour, bread, milk, soda, eggs cooking oil, books, etc.’ Doris has found that she has a strong product selection because these are items that her community members use frequently and on a regular basis.

Since joining Zidisha, Doris notes that her business has grown by over 40%. She now spends about $150 each week to add new inventory to her shop. More importantly, her business has allowed her to pay rent, bills, and school fees for both of her children. Then, she also uses the remaining profits to continually expand her business and purchase household goods. As she continues to grow her business, she dreams of employing more workers. She says, ‘Thank you Zidisha and my lender for this great trust you gave to me and your support since everything is running well BE BLESSED RICHLY.’

Since joining Zidisha, Doris has successfully raised 4 loans ranging from $200-$874. With each loan, Doris has gained confidence and has been able to increase her loan amount. With her initial loan of $200 in May of 2016 she was able to purchase eggs, flour, and sugar, which seemed to be fast selling products.

A few months later, in August of 2016, she doubled her first loan, requesting, $397 to purchase, ‘eggs, bread, soda, flour, ugali flour, oil, soap, salt, rice, pampers, tissue paper, blueband, weetabix, milk, and colgate.’ With each loan, it’s clear that Doris has been able to expand and add a lot of variety to her product mix.

Doris 2

On August 1, 2016, Doris shared this encouraging update on her discussion page, ‘I thank you Zidisha team and my lender for this great chance to significantly expand my business and am earning good return in terms of profit that am able to provide for my family, pay school fees, rent and bills on time. BRAVOOOOH! Zidisha be BLESSED.’

Her following two loans of $595 in November 2016 and $874 in April 2017 were also used to expand and grow her inventory. Some of the new items that she continued to add included: ‘maize, beans, and peas.’ Doris explains, ‘this is to meet the current demand from my customers who have frequently asked me to bring these commodities so that they can buy them as there is available cereals shops and with this demand my profit will have to rise.’

In addition to the inventory items, she also used her April 2017 loan for something bigger, a new fridge! With this loan she used half of the loan ($400) on the fridge and the other half ($400) on food and inventory for her shop. Additionally, she also used $50 towards a business permit paid to the local government.

After requesting this loan she explains, ‘The amount will boost my profit by 44 percent, and enable me to pay my weekly loan as well as catering to my family needs successfully.’

This spring, 2018, Doris continued to update her lenders, ‘Thanks Zidisha team. With the loan I managed to increase the stock of the shop whereby it helped me to increase the flow of the customers thus more returns. This return has also helped me to venture in other investments whereby I have purchased my own plot with partnership with my husband and which I’m intending to finish. This will help in terms of flow of money because all the rooms are rentals. Thanks Zidisha team for the loan, it has helped me to cater for the education of my children through the same business. I’m looking forward to the day when I will become a lender after the continuous growth of the business!’

Through her own success and work ethic, Doris has been able to serve as an inspiration to her children and to also stand apart as a business leader in her community.

Do you feel inspired after reading about Doris? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of similar stories of success.