A Little Goes A Long Way

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Michael Kihungi Makumi, age 27, is a Kenyan citizen, and was raised in a big family as the second of four boys. Education has been an important part of his life. After making his way through secondary school and passing his O level exams, he was fortunate to attend college where he earned a diploma in Computer Studies. After completing his studies, he started off his career at an agricultural firm called, ‘Kenya Agricultural Research Institute where he worked in the computer labs. After that, he transitioned to working at the Ministry of Health for his county, still working in the IT department.

Oftentimes, men and women find themselves thrown into the realm of entrepreneurship because they are frustrated and unhappy with their options or current situation. This was certainly the case for Michael. Since he was only considered a ‘casual laborer’ or contract employee, in his job, he was laid off after three months.

However, instead of remaining frustrated and angry with his circumstances, he decided to channel his energy and meager savings to start a business of his own. Using his education and training with computers and IT, he now does computer repairs, mobile phone repairs and sells memory cards, CCTV camera installation, and does troubleshooting and diagnostics.

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In addition to his business, he has also been able to take on an intrinsically rewarding new opportunity. He says, ‘Recently I was fortunate enough to get employed by a medical firm called eastern deanery aids relief program as their Health Management Information Systems Officer, on a yearly contract basis. It deals with taking care of people living with HIV and AIDS by providing comprehensive care throughout their lives for free. The program is funded by CDC and PEPFAR. It not paying but the satisfaction I get when I contribute to making the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS better, it’s payment enough.’

Since partnering with Zidisha, he has also been able to add a medium sized cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. He says, ‘Zidisha has really helped me a lot, I can never take it for granted. Through Zidisha, I have also been able to buy a full CCTV installation kit, a cordless drill and two more computers for my cyber cafe and computer tutoring classes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for your continued support. This great level of kindness that you show me and my business ventures will never go unpaid, I thank God for all my dear lenders and also the Zidisha Team and may He bless you all with the blessings of Abraham. Shalom!

One of the reasons why Michael’s Zidisha story is so impressive is because it shows firsthand that a little really can go a long way. From the information above, it’s easy to assume that Michael has been partnering with Zidisha for many years and has raised thousands of dollars in loans, and in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Michael’s journey with Zidisha started quite recently, in January of 2017, and his first two loans of four total, were under $10 USD. Many of us mistakenly believe that big changes require deep pockets, and sometimes they do, however, Michael, and many other Zidisha borrowers would argue that a $10 loan could be the start of something really significant.

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Michael’s first loan, back in January 2017, was only for $5 and with this small sum he was able to buy memory cards wholesale from a local vendor. In addition to the money, Michael saw the bigger picture that this was also a great opportunity to build trust and a good long term relationship with his lenders.

A few months later, he requested his second Zidisha funded loan in May 2017 for $8. With this loan he purchased a new CCTV installation kit which consisted of: pliers, a crimping tool cable stripper, cable tester, and other gadgets. Michael notes, ‘This is a worthwhile business and the toolkit would be a great starter pack and it will go a long way.’

Later that month, he found himself in need of some additional business tools. He requested a loan of $87 to purchase a drill. He mentions, ‘A drill will assist me in provision of quality work, instead of hammering the screws inside the walls while setting up the cameras, which usually ends up messy, a drill would go a long way in neatly securing the screws and the cameras.’

Most recently, Michael requested a loan of $198 in July 2017. His largest loan yet, this allowed him to purchase more computers for his shop to start a cyber cafe and computer literacy classes. He explains the felt need for this as he says, ‘We are in a digital world where almost everything is run by computers. Internet services provision and computer literacy is very essential. I am looking to buy two computers at the cost of 10,000KES or 96.39 US dollars for each computer making it 20,000KES or 192.77 US dollars for the two computers. I already have an internet connection from a reliable and local internet service provider Safaricom Limited. A computer literacy package or training will go for 5,000KES or 48.19 US dollars per person, and with a projection of at least 5 new enrollments per month, it would make it 25,000KES or 240.96 US dollars as profit. Surfing the internet will be 2KES per minute. I will also create employment since I will have to hire a good computer tutor and a cyber cafe attendant.’

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This new venture proved to be a strong idea for two reasons. First, a cyber cafe with computer literacy classes clearly falls under Michael’s education and area of expertise. In addition, he did his research and determined that quality computer literacy classes were not being offered in his area.

As he reflects on his months with Zidisha so far, he can already see changes happening in his life. He shares with his lenders, ‘Throughout this journey of self employment, Zidisha has really come through for me especially by financing my projects to buy gadgets to ease my working conditions and to attain profit margins since now I do not have to hire equipment to do my work, I have my own. As a volunteer mentor, I thank God for Zidisha, and I will always be in debt to all my lenders and those who have always come through for me.’

While Michael loves to work hard in his business, he also enjoys giving back and having fun. When he’s not working you can find him doing charity work and visiting the sick as a Community Healthcare Worker, or listening to good meaningful music. Also, he wants lenders to know that if you are an animal lover as he is, he encourages each of you to come visit Kenya’s beautiful national parks.

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A small loan can make a big impact. Head on over to our lend page to read about our other amazing borrowers.

‘Kicking Away Poverty, One Chick at a Time’

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Edwin Gitene was forced to drop out of his electrical engineering program in 2010 when we could no longer afford to pay the school fees. However, changing paths turned out to be a hidden blessing as he found a true passion for poultry farming. He says, ‘I was selected to be one of the youths in my county to pioneer a poultry farming project dubbed ‘kicking away poverty one chick at a time’. The project, aimed at alleviating poverty among young adults in my county, involved donating one hen, one cock and two chicks to selected youth.’

Edwin is so proud of what he has achieved since first starting and when he discovered Zidisha he has grown his business to 200 chickens. He is able to supply chickens and eggs to a local school and also supplies eggs in local shopping centers. His expenses tend to include: chicken feed and veterinary services. He is also able to supply local jobs by employing three members of his community. His greatest dream is to be a model poultry farmer in his country and to inspire as many young adults as possible so consider agribusiness as a viable business undertaking.

Through his partnership with Zidisha, he has been able to continually expand and grow his business and has even been able to return to school where he is studying in the school of business management.

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Edwin requested his first Zidisha funded loan for $150 in July 2014. The purpose of this initial loan, was to expand his chicken structure. He notes, ‘I wish to expand and modernize my structure. I currently have a traditional structure that more nor less just serves as a shelter for my chicken. My veterinary consultant has also advised me to do this so as to minimize the risk of the chicken contracting diseases. The new structure will be raised from the ground to reduce  the cold as well as make it easier for cleaning.’ Some of the costs included: iron sheets, cardboard, poles, wire, timber, and labor.

For his second loan of $147 in October 2014, he was ready for two big changes. The first, was a modification to his existing shelter to accommodate his increasing numbers of chickens. He had been advised by his veterinarian that this would be wise. He also needed to purchase a back up generator so that his chickens would receive adequate lighting as his area had frequent power outages which can distort the feeding regime and in turn, limits their growth.

By December, Edwin was in need of another loan for $145. He shared with lenders, ‘I will use the loan to purchase advanced electric brooders. Currently I have been using bulbs which blow frequently and they had been costing me a lot replacing them. Not to mention that I have been losing on average, 20 infant chicks every two weeks due to the cold. With the purchase of the brooders I will be able to contain this situation and increase my productivity.’

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In July of 2015, Edwin requested his next loan and asked for $268. With this loan, he was in need of a chaff cutter. He was confident that this would cut down on the recurring costs of chicken feeds. The machine would allow him to grind maize and cobs mixed with different nutrients for his chickens. In addition, he knew that he could also mill for his community neighbors for additional business earnings.

With this loan, Edwin thanked lenders for, ‘helping me realize more success and improve the living condition of my family and society as a whole. With your help hope is always reborn in me. Thank you great guys.’

As his business continued to grow and expand, Edwin found that it was time to invest in a better record keeping system. Therefore, his next loan, in November 2015 for $400 was for a computer, printer, and internet modem. He predicted that the computer would cost around $300, and $100 for the printer. Before this, he had to travel several miles to access internet services so he knew that this was the right next step in his business.

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As Edwin prepared for his next loan, he shared with his lenders, ‘I take this chance to once again thank you for the number of loans you have helped me raise ever since I joined this wonderful organization. The loans have helped me realize much success and I owe it all to you lenders.’

By January 2017, Edwin was ready to make some big changes in his business by adding a greenhouse. Therefore, for this loan he requested, $776. He found that it was time to diversify his business and while he had already started planting onions, kale, and bananas, he was ready to venture into growing watermelons. He predicted that after four months, his watermelon crop would see a profit of $500.

The cost breakdown for this loan would include: Ultra Violet treated polythene paper for $400 ,a 500 litre water tank for $80, a drip irrigation kit for $70, steel bars at $90, labor at $50, nails at $20, seeds at $5, fertilizer at $30, and transport and miscellaneous costs for $70. Always wise with his money, he opted to cut on the cost of posts by using less metal and more trees that were readily available.

Most recently, Edwin requested another loan in July 2017 for $1,211. He was happy to share with lenders this great update, ‘As planned, things are working out well and indeed I have experienced a good harvest.’ He was able to sell this first harvest of watermelons to both retailers and in a nearby market directly to his community members.

He continues, ‘I have realized that I can still supply more greenhouse products to help feed people in residential places within my hometown. I am planning to extend the greenhouse to measure 75 meters by 30 meters, that is roughly triple the current size. Apart from watermelons I will also plant tomatoes and onions that have shown a significant rise in demand with a rising population within my hometown. I will have the greenhouse subdivided to three sections for each of the horticultural crops I will venture in.’

Lenders and community members alike are excited to see how this growth will allow him to serve his community and neighbors on an even larger scale in the coming months and years.

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Would you like to read more about our inspiring entrepreneurs? Head on over to our Lend page to read dozens of stories about other business owners who are transforming their communities.

 

Purity at Work

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Purity Mwirigi is a woman who wears many hats and roles in her life. She is first and foremost a single mother of a son. She is also in her mid thirties, graduated from Katheri High School, and worked in a supermarket for 6 years before starting her first business. Initially, she started a cosmetics shop in Katheri Market while her son was still a baby. She says that later on she noticed that there was a high demand for stationery and textbooks in her market, which is how she conceived of the idea for her current business.

She is proud of her home and shares with lenders that, ‘The uniqueness of my land is that I was born on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and near the Mount Kenya Forest there are so many game parks and game reserves around.’

Right now, her business consists of photocopying, printing, and typing services. She notes that each of these services are in high demand because there are many schools in the surrounding area, and she is the only shop in the market that provides these services.

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With her profits, she is able to pay fees for her sons’ schooling, he hopes to be a pilot when he grows up. In addition, the remainder of her profits are put towards upkeep for her home and re-invested back into the business. It’s through re-investing that allows her to add to her stock of textbooks. She says, ‘I chose this business since it’s easy to run and is in high demand. Education will always remain the main factor in our societies; therefore books will always be needed.’

Since joining Zidisha back in 2015, Purity has now successfully funded 6 loans. She received her first loan of $100 in April 2015. All $100 of this first loan was used to buy textbooks, which she predicted would turn a profit of $70 in the span of 3 months. She has found that the textbook business is a good market to be in because she can receive almost double the buying price in a short period of time.

For her next loan, she raised $189 in June 2015 in order to purchase a printer that she could use for printing, scanning, and photocopy services. She expected the printer to cost around, $133. With the rest of the loan, she would have money remaining to buy printer paper and ink cartridges. Purity was excited by this loan because she knew it would open the door for her to better serve her current customers as well as the potential to acquire new customers as well.

By September 2015, Purity was once again ready to make some improvements to her business. With this next loan, she raised $367, $180 of which she used to purchase primary and high school revision booklets. Afterwards, she would have $180 remaining to purchase additional printing ink and 26 reams of printing paper.

For her fourth loan, Purity requested $550 in February of 2016 to start expanding her business. In addition to her current services, she was ready to add money transfer services. She predicted that this would benefit her business in a few different ways. First, this would allow current customers to access their cash through their phones to pay for their services in her business. In addition, including this in demand service would allow her to retain new customers as well. Purity was able to penetrate a growing market and serve her community in a much needed way. She says, ‘In fact mobile money services are in high demand in my home area since the nearest service is quite far, so my services will help ease the distance one has to travel to access this service.’

The first part of this loan was put towards acquiring an agent number. She would also need additional cash on hand for when clients need to withdrawal money. Thirdly, Purity would need to purchase a mobile phone hand set for the agent sim card. Finally, the last step would be to re-brand her business to include this new service. Going into this loan, she was able to use some of her savings in addition to her requested Zidisha loan.

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In September 2016, Purity kindly shared with her lenders, ‘Hi, may I take this opportunity to say thank you Zidisha family for the continued support you have afforded me. My son and I will forever be grateful for this support.’

For her next loan of $829 in September of 2016, Purity was in need of more stock, including, supplies of stationery, pens, textbooks, etc. With this loan, she also needed to expand her credit line for the money transfer part of her business. The remainder of the loan, combined with some of her own savings would go towards, purchasing memory sticks for mobile phones, renewing her business license, and obtaining more cash on hand for clients that want to withdrawal money.

On April 17, 2017, Purity shared this inspiring update on her discussion page, ‘You have made my dreams come true my dear lenders. With the loans you have given me my lifestyle has changed. I have taken my son to a good school, and I can donate at charity homes. l also encourage youth to start up their own businesses so that they can be dependable. May almighty God enlarge your territories my Zidisha family.’

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Most recently, Purity requested her largest loan yet, for $1,218 in July 2017. At this time, she experienced a large demand for her printing services, particularly, as her country prepared for their general elections in August. She used this loan to purchase, ‘printing paper and ink cartridges, textbooks and stationery, M-pesa cash, 6 months rent, re-branding, annual license, 2 months salary for her assistant.

On July 21, Purity shared with lenders, ‘My assistant is one of the those who is benefiting from my business. She comes from a poor background and she has enrolled for food and beverage courses through savings from the salary I pay her. I have promised to support her tuition, thanks to Zidisha.’

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With this loan, she is optimistic that by the end of 2017 she will be able to expand her business and create more jobs for the jobless youth in her community.

Were you inspired by Purity’s story? If so, head on over to our Lend page, and make a difference in the life and community of other Zidisha entrepreneurs.

 

A Budding Businessman

Ian

‘I still consider myself as a budding businessman but I hope to start competing with the big boys in business very soon.’ As one of Zidisha’s younger borrowers, Ian Ndirangu has now proven himself as he balances his growing business with his academic studies. In addition to running his business, he has also been taking business management courses in order to learn more about record keeping and managing cash flow.

When Ian first joined Zidisha back in 2015, he had a business selling small items such as handkerchiefs and trinkets which was a great side business as he was also busy with his college studies. He was able to gain a loyal customer base of clients as his main source of business.

Regarding this business he said, ‘It is a tough business but I am glad that it brings food on the table, pays for education and even supports my family (my mother and sister ) in a small way. I make an average net profit of about $180 per month since I have few overheads.’

So far, Ian has had 6 Zidisha funded loans ranging from 2015-2017 and has maintained an impressive 93% repayment rate. His first loan was a request for $100 back in January 2015. Ian used this first loan to boost his inventory by adding more variety to his inventory including sunglasses and watches. He felt certain that this addition of inventory would make his business more profitable and would positively impact his life and family.

A few months later, in April 2015, he was ready for a second loan of $198. Because Ian does not have a storefront he must travel to his customers. Therefore, with this loan he chose to purchase a bicycle to increase his mobility. He predicted that the bike would cost $150 and he could then use the remainder of the loan to increase his stock of inventory.

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By August of 2015, while Ian had found success with his mobile business, he was ready to invest in his own storefront. This way, he could refer his steady customer base to a central location. This would require an investment of $359, with $80 in monthly rent, $130 for shelves and other fittings to customize the stall, and finally, $120 for a business permit.

His vision for this next stage of business was to continue with the mobile sales himself, and to hire a member of his community to run the store. He was excited about this because of the great need for job opportunities in his town.

On August 10, 2015, Ian shared his gratitude for the Zidisha community when he said, ‘Hello, Zidisha and all lenders. I am grateful for your kind contributions towards my loan. You have shown how much you are committed in making sure I succeed, I won’t let you down. You have made me the way I am today and I give God all the Glory. I will keep you updated of my progress.’

A year later, in August 2016, Ian said, ‘My business has grown big and I am grateful that Zidisha has been a big part of this growth. I now need a bigger store to accommodate my growing number of customers.’ At this point, he requested another loan for $540. He noted that $250 would be used for leasing a new store and $150 would be put towards renovations and branding. The remainder of the loan would be used to purchase additional stock.

On August 26, Ian shared, ‘Hello all, I am fine and doing great in business. I owe credit to you all Zidisha and the lenders you have transformed my life and a lot of youths like me.’

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With each loan, it became clear that Ian was growing in confidence in both himself and his business. In December of 2016, he requested a loan of $809 to travel to Uganda to increase his inventory of fabric and shoes which are much cheaper in Uganda compared to Kenya. With the end of the year approaching, he knew he would soon see a surge in sales. He also mentioned, ‘My business has grown by leaps and bounds. I have managed to increase my income three-folds in the last year. This is largely attributable to the Zidisha loans which have given me an edge over the competition. Thank you very much for your continued support.’

For his most recent loan in July 2017, he requested, ‘$1,190. Ready to combine his academic knowledge and practical experience, he said, ‘My business is doing well and I now feel confident and ready to diversify it. I want to add sales of electrical items such as installation cables, wall sockets, bulbs etc. I have done my feasibility study and this is one area that is growing very fast due to rapid urbanization of my region.’

He planned to use $650 to purchase an assortment of electric cables and $350 to buy sockets, bulb holders, and bulbs. The remainder of the loan would go towards other items including: wire clips, insulating tapes, etc.

Last month, on July 15, 2017, Ian shared this inspiring update on his discussion page, ‘Hello to all, lenders and Zidisha family. I am always grateful for you have made my dreams come true. I am doing great and my family too, it is my pleasure to inform you that the profits I make through my business have enabled me to pay college fees for my young sister..who is pursuing her studies..and feeding other siblings..Thanks and GOD bless you all.’

Would you like to support another millennial entrepreneur like Ian? Head on over to our Lend page to read about our other young innovators.

Riches of a Nation

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

David Kamau Waweru began his career in the private sector after finishing college. He had received his diploma in Agriculture and worked for 8 years before venturing out on his own. Once becoming an entrepreneur he supported himself through dairy farming and general agriculture. While running his business, he was also employed by the government as the area chief in the Boror location.

Through his business, he is able to support his wife and children, including 1 son and 2 daughters. He mentioned that the milk in his area is in high demand as are other farming products. He typically sells his products at retail but when the harvest is good he prefers to sell wholesale because this allows him to receive all of the profit at one time. David says, ‘My customers like my products because they are of great quality and fresh from the garden.’

Since partnering with Zidisha, David has received 4 Zidisha funded loans. His first was in August 2012 where he obtained $500. He decided to use one third of the loan to improve his zero grazing structure with another third towards improving the pasture farm. The remaining amount was put towards artificial insemination. He was certain that these improvements would allow him to improve production and the overall standard of living for his family.

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A year later, in August 2013, he found himself in need of a second loan. This time he borrowed $1,325. With this loan, he purchased a heifer and also built a zero-grazing unit with a vision for the future of constructing a bio-gas unit. He shared with lenders, ‘Let me start by thanking the entire Zidisha team and for my previous loan which propelled my project. My previous loan gave impetus to my diary project. I owe this success to my lenders for faith in my project. Looking forward to my new loan.’

By August of 2014, he was ready for a new project in his business that would complement the previous loans. With this loan of $1,977 he used 58% of the loan to invest in poultry including: chicks, chick feed, drugs, and the construction of a chicken coop. The remaining 42% was put towards the construction of a calf’s pen and the construction of a perimeter wall and slab of zero-grazing. David noted that, ‘Security of animals is important due to increase of stock theft.’

By March of 2015, David was pleased to share that he and his family were all doing well. His children were all boarded at school and he kept busy preparing the land for planting. He mentioned that his hen project was doing well and that he had sold his first birds and was selling eggs weekly. Even with the prolonged drought, his farm was prevailing.

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On August 30, 2016, David shared this inspiring update with his lenders, ‘Hi Zidisha team and lenders. I take this moment to thank Zidisha. The loans I have received previously have transformed me and my family tremendously. These loans, given their low interest, have enabled me to fund my projects. I am looking forward to more loans. I salute Zidisha.’

For David’s most recent loan in September 2016 he requested $2,580. He chose to put this loan towards a half acre of land along the river. The remainder of the loan was used to purchase a water pump and seeds such as lucerne, sorghum, and legumes. He said, ‘My passion is skewed to farming, more so in dairy. This is an area I am comfortable doing, again and again. It is said agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.’

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David knows that life is full of ups and downs, but regardless of the struggles, he remains optimistic about the future. Recently, on April 7, 2017, he shared on his discussion page, ‘Hi lenders. Time has really passed without saying a word. l am well, and hoping you too are well. Here we’re facing the longest drought, many have lost their animals and human food is in short supply. Rivers have dried. Nevertheless I’m very optimistic that the situation will change.’

Were you inspired by David’s optimism and persistence? If so, make sure to head on over to our Lend page to find other incredible Zidisha entrepreneurs.

Never Give Up

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Duncan Nduati started out as a normal college student with a certain knack for business. After growing up in Thika town in Kenya, he continued his education at Jomokenyatta University where he studied Math and Computer Science. He was determined to go into business during his time at university so he started by saving the loan that was offered to him by the government for school fees. After a year, he began selling airtime cards and by the end of his second year he had saved enough for a small shop where he sold snacks and stationary.

After another year went by, he was ready for his next business venture, a clothing shop in Thika town. However, after 6 months in business, the business was broken into and all of his stock was stolen, totaling Ksh 0.5M. While many people might not have the courage to try again after a situation like this, Duncan kept moving forward. As his college studies came to a close, he started an IT and computer maintenance business during his final year of university in 2012 and he continues to run the business.

Today, Duncan’s business is registered as Thikatel computers where he sells computers, does repairs, and offers other related IT services. When he discovered Zidisha he had been running his business for almost 2.5 years. When he started, he began with services such as, operating system repairs, computer hardware repairs, and networking and data recovery. Now he has  grown to also include desktop computers and laptops, as well as computer accessories.

He mentioned that he chose this particular business because of his interest in computer hardware. While he knew that the business would require a high degree of capital, he also knew that he had a ready market of college students looking for his products and services. With his profits he is able to pay his rent and support his family.

In January 2015, Duncan obtained his first Zidisha funded loan of $100. With this loan he was prepared to purchase mouse devices, keyboards, power cords, and flash disks. In addition, he was ready to find a new location for his business. His current shop was located on the second floor of a building and he hoped to improve his location by moving to the ground level. However, he also knew that this move would result in a significant increase in his rent each month.

Always full of new ideas, by April Duncan was ready for his next move. With his next Zidisha loan of $230 he purchased phone memory cards, and more flash disks and hard disks. With more stock on hand, Duncan started a new marketing initiative in order to sell his products in wholesale and bulk on college campuses and nearby shops. He also had the idea to employ a few sales persons. He hoped that this would allow him to expand and would provide employment opportunities for members of his community.

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In addition to the computer products and repair services that he offered, he determined that he needed to offer more phone and computer accessory items. With this in mind, he requested his next loan of $332 in July 2015 to increase his stock of these items. He purchased in bulk with the intention to then resell to retailers. During this time Duncan was also able to open another small phone shop near his home which is wife is now running.

Duncan is certainly a marketer at heart, and with his next loan of $332 in October, he set out to print marketing materials and hoped to hire 2 people to distribute the leaflets throughout the town and in offices. He used the remainder of the loan to increase his stock of memory cards and flash disks. Duncan accompanied this loan request with a kind note to his lenders saying, ‘I would like to thank the lenders for the continued support.’

By February 2016, Duncan felt it was important to increase his stock of computers. He obtained a Zidisha funded loan of $494 and set out to purchase 20 desktop computers as well as 20 monitors. Included in this loan, were other accessories such as flash disks. Business was going so well for Duncan that by June, he was ready to buy 15 more used desktop computers for a total of $745. Shortly thereafter in September, he was ready for his largest loan yet. At $1,116, he hoped to purchase 11 used Dell laptop computers, hoping to make a profit of $50 on each computer. Duncan shared that he was excited by how this loan would positively impact both his business and family. He ended the year in December 2016 with an update on his discussion page which read, ‘I would like to thank my lenders for the continued support. The business is doing well and am looking forward for a great year and wish a safe festive season.’

On April 17, 2017 Duncan shared this inspiring update with his lenders, ‘Am so grateful for the previous loans. My business has grown tremendously and marketing has become easy. I hope to continue increasing and growing the business with your help. Thanks lenders for your unwavering support and financial help.’ Duncan’s most recent Zidisha funded loan was a request for $1,688 in April 2017. Due to his use of advertising, he found himself in need of additional stock. With this loan he planned to purchase 10 used laptop computers at $120 each as well as 10 used desktop computers at $50 each. He chose used computers because he found through experience that they sold more easily due to affordability and ease of use. He anticipated that this would result in a weekly income of $100.

Recently, in June 2017, Duncan shared on his discussion page the significance and benefit of the Zidisha/borrower relationship as he shares, “On many occasions it is never easy, the business world is harsh, however, with a helping hand and a friend like the Zidisha team it’s promising and hope filled when you have a team that just trusts you beyond all boundaries. Thanks Zidisha team for offering the much needed help. I am doing better everyday.’

Did Duncan’s story resonate with you? If so, check out our Lend page where you can find other amazing stories of Zidisha business owners.

Designing the Future

Leonard Ampofo

By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Leonard Ampofo is a gifted millennial and the second child in a family of four. He received his basic education at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, and continued on to the senior high level at Cape Coast in the Central Region. He then attended the University for Development Studies at Wa in the Upper-West Region of Ghana, where he studied Environment and Resource Management. However, after earning a great education, he struggled to find a job.

He says, ‘after years of job searching proving futile, I began to combine what l had learned during my four years at the University with one of the talents in my family. We are gifted with the talent of designing African wear; we use African traditional prints to make clothing. Ghana has a convergence of many tribes, making it a beautiful atmosphere in which to enjoy the differences of the various ethnic groups. I am self-employed, designing and making African wear. I entered this business due to my passion for African clothing made from African prints, and because of my desire to become a successful entrepreneur in the near future.’

By the time that Leonard discovered Zidisha he had been designing and making clothing for over 3 years. He designs both men’s and women’s clothing and even makes school uniforms as well. One of his signature strengths is his ability to combine traditional and modern prints and ideas producing high quality and well-priced pieces for his customers and retailers. In fact, he has been doing so well that he even has 3 apprentices assisting him.

His typical costs include: $100 monthly for water and electricity, and $60 monthly to rent two shops. On average, his revenue is about $500 and his net profit averages $340 each month. He then uses his profits to pay for his siblings school fees and for buying more fabric for his business. When he is not busy at work, Leonard loves swimming, preaching, and listening to sermons.

Leonard sought out his first Zidisha funded loan in May 2015 and asked lenders for $100. With this loan he purchased $90 worth of fabrics and $10 of thread. He knew that increasing his supply of fabric and thread would make it easier for him to keep up with the demand from his customers and retailers.

By July of 2015, Leonard was once again in need of more fabric. He doubled his loan amount to $199 in order to purchase $190 in fabrics and $10 of thread. Later that same year, in September, he once again found himself in need of more fabric. For this loan, he requested $259 in total with $10 being used for machine servicing to improve his production and the rest of the loan was used for new fabric. He predicted that this would allow him to increase his profits by 40%.

By January of 2016, Leonard was ready to make some big changes in his business. The most significant was the decision to purchase an electrical sewing machine. For this loan, he requested $414 with $350 of that amount going towards the new sewing machine. He also allocated $45 to be put towards machine servicing and maintenance and $7 to purchase new threads. He was excited and confident that this loan would really allow him to increase his output. Shortly thereafter, he expressed his gratitude on his discussion page with the message, ‘I really want to thank my lenders for this loan who have always been supportive to the growth of my business. May God bless you all.’ He also noted on January 11 that his Zidisha funded loans have allowed him to increase his profits by 40%.

By June, Leonard was excited to share an image of his new sewing machine with lenders as well as the update that his new machine had allowed him to really increase his output.

Leonard Ampofo 3

For his most recent loan, Leonard requested $619 in September 2016 which he used to once again purchase new fabric costing $450, with $50 to purchase new thread, and a little over $100 set aside for routine servicing and maintenance. After receiving this loan, Leonard shared an inspiring message for lenders on his discussion page, ‘I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all my lenders for supporting me financially in my business. You all have played a crucial role in making my business a success. I know I can’t repay you with anything but I know the blessings of God will never elude you. God blesses you and grant you all your hearts desires. Thanks a lot.’

Leonard is a great example of someone who has crafted a career based on his strengths, expertise, and passion. Through this he is able to help support his family and also bring more joy and beauty into his community through his clothing.

Were you inspired by Leonard’s story? If so, make sure to head over to our Lend page and make a difference in the life of another Zidisha entrepreneur.