Reading is a Beautiful Culture

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wilson Wasonga has had a passion and love for books for as long as he can remember.  Born and raised in Kenya, he was able to continue his education up until the college level. And today, he is sharing that love for books with others as a books seller, as he likes to say, ‘reading is a beautiful culture.’

He has a family and children and after saving for ten years, he has been able to build his own home. His big audacious dream for himself is to be a financial independent man and he continues to work towards this goal as he builds his business and desires to open a school supermarket by the end of 2022.

He shares, ‘my major aim is to help those who cannot afford school products in learning days by renting them the used and new school books and stationary at a fees so that their children and themselves can get the required learning materials.’

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Wilson likes to say that he is a ‘books man.’ With only $4, he started his business in 2008 with a small stall. Since starting, he transparently shares that it’s not always easy. He says, ‘It is a challenging business because it has some peak months in January, February, April, August and December. So that is the time I get good business while part of the months the business provide availability to survive on.’

Between himself, his wife, and one employee, he is able to continue the business going while generating between $450-600 during the high season and between $300-400 during the low season.

Because of the seasonal nature of his work, when Wilson first discovered Zidisha, he knew that this would help him sustain his business during the rough off season. As a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, he received his first Zidisha funded loan in June 2018, where he started with $9 to purchase school stationary for his stall.

A few months later, he raised a second and then a third loan for $12 and $19 which enabled him to purchase pencils and calculators.

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Since then, Wilson has successfully raised 5 loans growing his business along the way. With these 5 loans he raised amounts of $41, $60, $264, $343, and $485. As 2018 came to a close Wilson continued to raise funds for his calculators using both the $41 and $60 specifically for this purpose.

By mid 2019, Wilson was ready to add additional paper to his inventory. With $264 from Zidisha lenders, he was able to purchase reams of papers at a cost of 380 Kenyan Shillings to be resold for 500 Kenyan Shillings.

Always keeping an eye on the market and his customer needs, Wilson decided to stock up on novels as July rolled around. He explained that during the months of July-September people enjoy relaxing with a book. With this in mind, Wilson was able to purchase a bulk order of books, around 400 novels. By selling each book for 150 Kenyan Shillings ($1.45 USD) he would be able to double his profit.

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Most recently, in August 2019, Wilson was able to raise, $485 for one of the most important times of the year, back to school. Using the loan to stock exams and back to school materials such as, ‘mathematical tables, rulers, calculators, rubbers, pencils, and pens.’ Because students are required to have all of their materials for the entire term, this is a great business season for Wilson!

Wilson is also proud that through the success of his business, he has been able to hire an employee. Creating employment for the unemployed members of his community is something that Wilson has dreamed of since starting his business, and now he is seeing this dream come to fruition. Wilson shares, ‘He thanks me as he had no job in the process, so thanks for putting a smile in his eyes.’

Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Wilson to be able to employ their own community members? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs.

Going Back To His Roots

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Stanely Njoroge, was born into a large family as the third born of a family of eight. As a child he was able to attend Kimorori Primary and and afterwards completed Kariguini Secondary where he received his KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) in 2008. Not having the funds to attend college, Stanley decided to start farming. Then, he received an opportunity to work at his uncles shop. Sadly, in 2015 the shop was attacked my robbers, stealing both money and shop inventory. This meant that his uncle would not be able to pay him, leaving him to find an alternative source of employment.

While the situation of being on his own wasn’t ideal, Stanley was able to make observations and come up with a simple business idea to get him started with entrepreneurship. His idea was to start selling plastic bags in the markets and in small shops throughout his town.

He explains his idea as he shares, ‘My business is selling plastic bags in the market and small shops. I chose this business because many people use plastic bags for carrying simple things from the market and shops, and it needed a small amount of capital.’

While he was able to get himself up and running, Stanley quickly realized that he would need an influx of cash to keep growing and hire additional workers, growth that he wouldn’t be able to make happen on his own. However, with the help of Zidisha, he’s been able to grow and expand.

With his first Zidisha funded loan of $100, Stanley was able to use 60% of the loan to increase his inventory and 40% of the loan to open a kiosk and hire an additional worker.

By the end of the year, Stanley was already coming up with new ideas for how to grow his business. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he was able to raise, $190. He used $50 of the loan to purchase additional inventory and used the remainder to buy a bicycle which he would be able to use to make transporting his inventory easier, rather than having to walk long distances.

By April 2017, Stanley was pleased with where his business was headed and was also appreciative for the increase in his standard of living. As he prepared for his third Zidisha funded loan, he shared, ‘My plan is to add all kinds of plastic bags in my business and to increase my stock at large. 1kg, 2kg, 3kg and 4kg will cost me $100. Also, I will add plastic hand bag known as Marlboro which will cost me $50. I will also buy v 22, v15, and v30 and that will cost me $50. I’m also planning to employ a coworker who will help me to supply bags from shop to shop which will increase my profit and save my time.’

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Like many other Zidisha entrepreneurs, Stanley eventually decided to pivot and move into a different business, going back to his roots, farming. With the help of a $337 loan from Zidisha lenders in July 2017, Stanley was able to purchase quality cabbage seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and a second hand water pumping generator. He also put a little money aside for land preparing costs and labor expenses as well.

Most recently, as of September 2019, Stanley is continuing to work hard and is still farming. With a September loan of $337, Stanley will be able to continue preparing his land, purchasing additional seeds, buying herbicides, fertilizer, pesticides, and tools. In addition, this loan will also enable him to buy a smartphone to help him run his business and he also requires some manual labor help.

On September 2, 2019, Stanley shared this encouraging update with his lenders, ‘My previous loan has helped me to improve my living standards and has helped me to raise my family and pay school fees for my siblings and also my parents in the village.’

Would you like to be able to help an entrepreneur like Stanley take his or her business to the next level? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other Zidisha business owners,


The Spirit of Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

As a child, Anthony Ludeki says that he grew up with “a bigger vision, a bigger mind, a dream to become a medical surgeon…” He was able to continue his education and graduated from high school, and while he didn’t go on to become a surgeon…he’s still been able to infuse his dreams and vision into a new direction, entrepreneurship.

As a new entrepreneur, Anthony dove into the world of business by selling eggs and rearing chickens. In entrepreneurship, mindset is a key piece of the puzzle. Knowing that at least half of businesses fail is often enough to keep many dreamers from ever starting a business at all. Luckily for Anthony, he has the mindset that it takes to be successful. He even used his vision to grow his chicken rearing business from one chicken to 3000 hens.

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Then, after seeing success with his first business, he has now entered into the entertainment business where he sells movies, cassettes, DVD’s, and CD’s. This primarily consists of Gospel and Secular songs, as well as TV series.

And if that wasn’t enough, he shares, ‘I also run a video show where I show movies apart from selling them. Currently the generation that surrounds the environment where I stay is youthful. I mean 70% of my neighborhood consists of the youth who like watching such things, therefore it’s very worthwhile to sell them at affordable prices.’

Anthony first started working with Zidisha in 2015 and was able to go big with an initial loan of $252. While he’d already done well in his previous ventures, he found himself ready to diversify. At the time, he was selling DVD’s but imagined opening up a video show but lacked the capital to purchase the necessary television screen and DVD reader to make it happen.

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As a new borrower, in July 2015, Anthony was already witnessing the power of the lender-borrower relationship with Zidisha as he shared, ‘Dear lenders I once again take this opportunity to thank you uplifting my business, indeed I am doing well, and I urge you to continue with that spirit of supporting us young entrepreneurs. God bless you. I am so grateful for your good work. My business has really expanded and I speak to you now I have managed to employ two youth to assist me with the job and am able to pay them 200 shillings per day. Thanks a lot and God bless you.’

Over the next few years, Anthony found his egg selling business doing well, and made the decision to add a variety of other food stuffs to his inventory by opening a small retail shop. When people buy eggs, they often purchase other common ingredients such as, flour, sugar, rice, etc. and Anthony saw this as the perfect opportunity to grow. With his second Zidisha funded loan, he raised $389 from lenders and stocked up on key items including, sugar, rice, wheat flour, and other shop goods.

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As an entrepreneur dealing with suppliers, transportation can take a large chunk of profits. For Anthony, he found himself spending more than he would like transporting his stock from his suppliers to his retail shop. He shares, ‘I have been facing difficulties in terms of transportation of my stocks which has become very costly. For instance, on eggs I place two orders a week and since I purchase directly from the poultry farm the cost of transportation is on my side, so I always part away with 4 US dollars for every trip, so in a week I have to make two trips which translate to 8 US dollars every week. Same applies to cereals since I purchase them directly from farmers, I have to incur the cost of transportation. I can purchase for instance ten 90 KG bags of maize to ferry them to my store it will cost me 10 US dollars which is costly. This transportation cost has really affected my profits negatively.’

Fortunately, Anthony wasn’t going to let this small hurdle derail his business and future. Knowing that his Zidisha lenders had come through for him twice before, he called upon them a third time to find a solution to his problem. He realized that the best case scenario would be to acquire his own transportation source, and that’s exactly what he did. With the help of a $675 Zidisha funded loan, he purchased a motorbike of his own.

Even better, a motorbike has enabled him to start supplying eggs to small businesses in remote areas, something that he never would have been able to do without his own transportation.


While a motorbike might seem like a small change, it’s transformed Anthony’s business as he says, ‘The loan I used to buy a motorbike which has helped me positively in running my business. I use the motorbike to go and purchase my eggs I also use it to supply eggs to my customers. This has increased my daily sales thus increasing my profits.The number of eggs trays I was selling in a week before I had the motorbike, today I sell them in a day, that’s how that motorbike has changed the way I run my business. Thank you for the loan, my God bless you all as you continue supporting me financially.’

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Would you like to provide a loan that could completely change an entrepreneurs business? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read other inspiring stories just like Anthony’s.


Pursuing an Education

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Gideon Agyare Nkansah is a family man through and through. He has a lovely wife, named Mercy, and three children, 2 daughters and 1 son. His daughters names are Celine and Rhoda, and his son, the youngest, is Gerrit.

As a father, he believes so strongly in providing his children with a better education than he himself received. While he was able to make it to secondary school, the death of his father meant that he was no longer able to continue attending school. He shares, ‘I needed to work with building contractors to enable me to get some money to continue my education. I then continued my education in a technical school called Tema Technical Institute where I was offered a course in welding. After school, I wanted to open a welding shop on my own, but there was no support.’

Unable to find the support to get started on his own, he was able to find a job working with a company called, Ghacem Limited.

While Gideon may have been a salaried worker, it didn’t mean that he was without worries or financial concerns. While he was able to use his income from his job to support his family, he found that the additional burden of paying school fees on time for his children was a struggle.

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Before partnering with Zidisha, Gideon was often stressed and worried about paying for his children’s education.

When Gideon discovered Zidisha, he said, ‘With the help of a loan from Zidisha, this will help me pay my children’s school fees on time and they will never be sacked from school anymore and help them to get a better future, and it will also help me to achieve my goals in the future. Some of my goals are to build my own house, and set up a business on my own in the future.’

Since 2015, Gideon has been able to successfully use the Zidisha lending platform to make sure that his children are never forced to quit school, due to a lack of fees. Since his first loan in 2015, he has completed a total of five Zidisha funded loans ranging from $100 to $1,564. In 2015, upon receiving his first loan from Zidisha, his elder daughter, Celina, was in class 3, and his younger daughter, Rhoda, was in class 1.

The early academic years are critical for students in setting a good foundation that will allow them to flourish later on. When children are taken in and out of school, it’s often very difficult for them to catch up.

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With his second Zidisha funded loan, of $292 in July 2015, Gideon used $100 for Celine’s school fees, and $90 for Rhoda’s school fees, with $51 used for their textbooks. In order to successfully repay his Zidisha loan, Gideon planned to reduct $20.50 from his monthly income to repay the loan.

By May 2017, Gideon had raised 3 additional loans, providing his children with a stable education. Gideon shares, ‘Since I started taking loans from Zidisha, it has in fact helped me a lot by paying my children’s fees on time and they are never sacked from school. This loan is going to help improve my children’s education.’

Here is how Gideon was able to use his most recent loan, in May 2017:

1) Celine’s school fees: $400
2) Rhoda’s school fees: $380
3) Textbooks for both children: $200
4) Education accessories for both children: $150
5) Notebooks for both children: $200
6) Exercise books for both children: $150
7)Study fees for both children: $100

As a father, Gideon is proud to be able to partner with Zidisha to make sure that he can consistently pay the high school fees that allow his children to continue their education. He proudly shares, ‘My children’s education has improved, and I hope it will improve more since the loan helped me to pay their school fees and other education needs on time.’

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Would you like to help another parent like Gideon support their family or education? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring Zidisha borrowers!


Watering His Crops

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

John Oloo Omolo, is a 34 year old Kenyan Accountant with a passion for farming. He was born into a large family as the seventh child of eight! After successfully completing both primary and secondary school, he made his way to the Vision Institute of Professionals where he received his accounting training. He shares, ‘For the last four years I have been practicing modern farming where I have been growing high value crops in our area, like tomatoes, onions, water melons and capsicum.’

As a busy side hustling entrepreneur, John has had his share of ups and downs. His biggest struggle initially was the challenge of maintaining a water source for his garden. While his water supply had been sufficient during the rainy season, once it was over, his water supply was limited.

The solution for John turned out to be a water pumping system! And because of his amazing Zidisha lenders, he’s been able to keep making steady progress in his side business. Starting out with Zidisha, John had 3 ambitious goals. First, he hoped to purchase a solar water pumping system. Second, he intended to install a water harvesting dam. And third, he wanted to purchase a 5,000 liter tank for water storage and irrigation.

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While he knew it would take steady and consistent work to make his dream a reality, John began with a $100 Zidisha funded loan from lenders in February 2015. In the previous year, he had planted watermelons and onions but was unhappy with his harvest due to the lack of water. He hoped that in the future he would be able to expand his harvest.

He shares, ‘My water source for this project will come from rain and I also want to build a water reserve tank of 20,000 litres and irrigation pipes to ensure that I have adequate water source for my project. In the future I would like to acquire my own land as I like farming and employ jobless people to work on the farm and improve the food production in the area as it is scarce in the dry spell, and very expensive if available.’

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After putting his first Zidisha funded loan to good use, John went to his discussion page and shared this update with his lenders, ‘I am very grateful to my lenders and the Zidisha family that have given me this memorable opportunity that I would like to share with joy and gratefulness. With this amount that I have received I plan to purchase drip irrigation pipes and a drum that I will use to irrigate on onions that I will plant in my farm. The dripping pipes will ensure that the onions I will plant will receive adequate water and also help me save on water. The drum will help me as a point supplying through the dripping pipes. Thank you again lenders.’

In terms of John’s costs and profits, he explains, ‘A case of tomatoes goes for $40.69, a sack of groundnuts goes for $139.53, and onions go for $23.25 and 1kg melon goes for $1.74. The tomatoes farm preparations and requirements cost $232.55 and the output will fetch $2,325.58. Onions preparations will cost $116.27 and the harvest will fetch $1,744.18. Groundnuts will cost $93.03 and the harvest will fetch $930.23. The melons will cost $58.13 and the harvest will fetch $1,395.34. To prepare one and a half acres of land I would spend $23.25 on seeds, $55.23 to plough, $46.50 to weed, $58.13 for manure, $116.27 for labour, pies for irrigation $232.55, $465.11 for water tank reserve, with all this in place I will be able to produce affordable farm produce and create work in our village.’

Since his first Zidisha funded loan, John has raised 3 additional loans, allowing him to continue working towards his farming goals. During his most recent loan proposal, he explained to lenders, ‘I purpose to acquire farming equipment’s a solar water pumping system, install a rain water harvesting dam and a 5,000 Liters tank for water storage and use for drip irrigation. I would also want to have drip pipes in my farm to ensure my farm works efficiently and there is no wastage of water. Part of the loan will also use it for payment of wages and buying seed, pesticides and insecticides.’

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Upon receiving his most recent loan, in May 2019, John was able to purchase seeds, pay for labor, and buy some farm equipment. He has been learning the best practices in modern farming and he appreciates that he now has an additional stream of income.  And as of June, John has also purchased a solar pump that he can now use to irrigate his garden!

He says, ‘I want to say thank you to my lenders for supporting me in boosting my farming project.’

Would you like to support another hardworking entrepreneur like John? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read similar inspiring stories!









Taking Her Business to New Heights

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Agnes Kpodovia was raised in Keta in the Volta Region of Ghana but now lives in Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo Region. She was raised in a large family with four siblings and finished her technical education from the Sunyan Polytecnic in 1990.

She shares, ‘My ability to further my education was truncated due to limited financial resources. I therefore decided to venture into trading at an early age. It was a necessity to support my other brothers to further their education, therefore, I had to go through terrible conditions in life. This made me to learn early; the skills of trading with the aim of assisting the family financially. We have been able to manage by divine providence, though things have been tough.’

While Agnes has experienced challenge after challenge in her life, they have molded her into the woman that she is today. Her business is buying and selling smoked fish, which is a trade that she learned from her mother when she was a teenager. Today she’s an experienced fish trader with over 25 years in the business!

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Agnes continues, ‘I travel over 325 km every fortnight in search of smoke fish to purchase in the Greater and Central regions of Ghana. My primary concern is the inability to find the requisite resources for business expansion. It is a profit yielding business. It has been the supportive wire of the family for three decade and with Zidisha there will be superlative expansion capital to buy more baskets of smoked fish to sell.’

In her time with Zidisha, Agnes has secured an unbelievable, 10 Zidisha funded loans! As a new borrower in 2015, she started with a $100 loan from Zidisha lenders, and just kept growing from there. As of 2019, she is now able to raise loans for over $3,000 allowing her to continually grow and expand her business.

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When Agnes is purchasing a basket of fish, she explains that a whole basket is usually full of 12 to 16 layers of small fish. Each layer costs around $84 and an entire basket costs her about $1,000.

After two years in the Zidisha community, Agnes proudly shared, ‘Thank you so much for your support my lenders. It had been a great journey together. I will buy more wholesale smoke fish to sell. You have truly changed the face of my business.’

With her Zidisha funded loans, Agnes has been able to have consistent capital to continue purchasing large quantities of fish. Her established customer base now includes: boarding schools, students, catering service providers, and government institutions.

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Agnes likes to say that her customers are ‘individuals from all walks of life.’

For Agnes, another high point in her business has been employing additional members of her community to work for her. She is proud that she has been able to provide a source of income for 3 additional workers. Throughout her years with Zidisha, she notes that her business has seen tremendous growth.

As of 2019, Agnes is continuing to thrive as she shared this update on her Discussion Page, ‘Thanks so much my Lenders for funding my loan. You are a great partner in my business. This loan will expand my business and it will help me recruit more hands. It is heartwarming to reach out to you again with my appreciation for your support in making my business flourish. I am in business by virtue of your support and I believe I will get to my heights.’

Would you like to empower a strong female entrepreneur like Agnes? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects to read about our other inspiring Zidisha business owners.




Overcoming the Challenges

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘I have been faced with a lot of challenges, but have been able to overcome them’ shares entrepreneur Daniel Malului of Ngong, Kenya. Growing up in a rural area, Daniel attended primary school, secondary school, and also went to college for a course in Shipping. Sadly, he wasn’t able to take the final exam, as he didn’t have the funds to pay.

Not letting this discourage him, he received an opportunity as a trainee at a 5-star hotel in Mombasa. He shares, ‘I was among the best for a period of 4 months, and they offered me a job as a reservation clerk. I enrolled for a Travel and Tourism course, an evening class, which I was able to pay for myself from the salary and saving some until I completed the Consultant level, passing the IATA exams in 2013.’
2014 was the year that Daniel decided to delve into the world of entrepreneurship. Using some of his savings, he opened a motorbike parts shop in Ngong after relocating from Mombassa. For now, his shop continues to be a side business on top of his regular employment, fortunately, his wife also helps with running the business. This provides him with the security to provide for his wife and two children, Hervey and Mary Kaveke.
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Since joining Zidisha in 2015, Daniel has secured six loans and has been able to use his Zidisha funded loans to boost his business. In addition, he’s also opened a second business, venturing into water purification. He’s employed three workers and also sponsors the local rugby club with drinking water for all of their matches!
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As a new Zidisha entrepreneur in 2015, Daniel got started with two loans. With the first, he raised $50 and with the second, $100. With the funds, he purchased spare part stock and he especially focused on tires. He shared, ‘We are approaching the rainy season here in Kenya. During the rainy season, motorbike tires record the highest sales. I would be very grateful to Zidisha lenders for considering my loan application and for helping me to achieve my dream of becoming the leading supplier of motorbike parts in my town.’

By the end of the year, the rain continued to fall, and Daniel found himself running out of inventory. Fortunately, his Zidisha lenders came through with a loan of $199 allowing him to buy additional rear shock absorbers. Buying them for $20 USD wholesale, he then was able to sell them for $40 each, making $20 USD per unit.

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In 2016, Daniel found himself really short on inventory. With two substantial Zidisha funded loans, of $563 and $1,390, he was able to re-purchase the parts that he had been lacking in his stock.

Here are some of the parts that he purchased: Sproket chain, Tube, Break Shoes, Speed Clock, Mirror Holder, Gel Battery, CDI, Tires, Side Mirrors, Batteries, Lubricant Engine Oil, Head Lights, and Steering Wheels.

He was also able to use the remainder of these loans to renew his business permit, a $120 cost, and also hire some local members of his community to help him around the shop.

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Typically, Daniel has a profit margin of at least 50% on the spare parts that he sells.

Recently, Daniel decided that he was ready for a new project, as he started in the water purification business. He shared his loan proposal with lenders in April and said, ‘Hello Lenders, first and foremost I want to take this opportunity to thank you so much for your previous loan it really did wonders to my business. My new project of water purification is on and running now and I need to purchase PET bottles in bulk for bottling drinking water. This will ensure my business is in the right gear for taking off. I kindly request you all to fund my project to enable me grow my business.Thank you and God bless you.’

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Would you like to support a motivated and hardworking business owner like Daniel? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about the other amazing entrepreneurs in the Zidisha community!