A Never Say Die Spirit

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Nicholas Nyongesa might have grown up in an environment that did not consider education important, but that didn’t deter him in the slightest! As he opened his mind to the power of education, he flourished, and even received a government scholarship to University. He shares that, ‘After my university education the entrepreneurial spirit within me arose and I started a data collection business where I could walk in the targeted places to interview the respondents on behalf of my clients undertaking research.’

Like many entrepreneurs, he’s also discovered the power of diversifying and maintaining multiple income streams as he also supplies stationery and food stuffs to nearby schools. In the future, he hopes that he can continue to grow and explore other markets. In addition to running his business, Nicholas also enjoys spending time with his young son who has dreams of becoming a pilot someday. As a lifelong learner, Nicholas also loves reading entrepreneurial books in his spare time.

Nicholas began working with Zidisha lenders back in July 2017 and has since successfully raised 7 loans. Starting small, his first $34 loan enabled him to purchase a bag to carry his stationary and data collection materials. This allowed him to transport and deliver lots of materials at the same time.

The following month, in August 2017, he raised his second loan, this one for $51. Like many of his fellow borrowers, purchasing items in small quantities was limiting his ability to grow. With this loan he started purchasing printing papers in bulk. This specific batch of papers was used to print field questionnaires for a client that he was working with. He shares, ‘From this engagement, my business will be able to earn an extra profit due to efficiency as opposed to previous encounters where I was purchasing in small quantities.’

An important way that Zidisha lenders often help borrowers is through loans helping them to bring tools and services in house. For example, prior to working with Zidisha, many borrowers must outsource things like printing, because they don’t have their own printers. This was exactly the case with Nicholas. Fortunately, through his next loan, of $108, he was able to purchase his own printer for his business. Previously, outsourcing printing services had been a major cost for him and with this change he predicted that his profit margin would double!

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On September 17, 2017, Nicholas proudly shared with Zidisha lenders, ‘thanks to my Zidisha lenders for making my dream a reality, your loan has made my business more efficient and customers more satisfied which has in turn doubled my profit margin due to clients trust. I look forward for your continued support. Once again thank you.’

Shortly thereafter, in November, 2017, Nicholas requested his next loan of $247, as he shares, ‘The last loan helped me to make more profit and as a result hired a new staff who requires a laptop as a tool for his work. The laptop will cost USD $370. This will enable my employee work efficiently and thus boost my business performance with expected returns doubling. Once the income increases the business will expand more with new other staff being employed with the aim of reducing the unemployment rate in the neighborhood. I therefore request my lenders to kindly help not only to achieve my business goal but also offer quality services to my clients in an efficient way and also offer employment to the youths.’

As Nicholas continued to grow with his business, he was faced with new and bigger problems. By February 2018, this was true as he had outgrown his office space. Not having enough room for his employee and clients, he found himself scrambling and getting creative by meeting with clients in hotels or rented boardrooms. Of course, he knew that this wouldn’t serve well as a long-term solution. Fortunately, with the help of a $485 Zidisha loan, he was able to solve this problem and procure additional office space.

With office space secured, the next step was purchasing office furniture for the space. Through a $846 loan from Zidisha lenders, Nicholas was able to purchase new tables and chairs. He further explains, ‘The furniture will give value to my business so that the bargaining power and confidence to the client is achieved. This will also increase the business profit by 40% from the current profit. With the new furniture also my working efficiency and effectiveness is expected to be enhanced as a result of a better working environment.’

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Most recently, Nicholas raised his largest loan yet, $1,291 to purchase a motorcycle. As he often needs to travel from location to location for data collection work, he found himself spending a lot of money on transportation services which were eating away at his profits. Having a vehicle of his own would solve this problem.

On October 18, 2018, Nicholas shared this exciting update on his discussion page, ‘I used the loan to purchase office furniture. This has enhanced the business work environment which in turn enhanced work efficiency. There has been also increased income due to confidence in clients when they visit the office location. There has been a 30% increase in income which I have used to employ a new staff to help enhance efficiency further for the increased clients. It is expected that with your continued support I will be able to employ more youths and also help pay school fees for the bright but needy students in my neighborhood.’

For Nicholas, his dream and vision for the future is much larger than just making money. He also dreams of continuing to impact the youth in his community in big ways, as he shares, ‘With your continued support I will be able to grow the business at the same time extend my hand to the less privileged within my area of reach especially to school going children who cannot raise school fees. This is in the spirit that education is the key to success and also opens doors where it seems impossible. I lack words to express my gratitude. Thank you’

Because of lenders like you, Nicholas is seeing his dream materialize right before his eyes! Would you like to help another entrepreneur do the same? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to help make this happen!

Setting a Strong Example

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Joscah Nyarangi Nyaata is a 30 years old, mother of two kids, Sheldon & Velma. Growing up in Kisii town in Kenya, she completed primary school and moved on to secondary school, but was not able to finish as she couldn’t make it to the campus, and her parents could not afford to send her to a private campus.

Undeterred, she moved to Nairobi and secured a job. However, once her position was terminated, she was back to searching for a new job. During this time she also got married and a year later they had their first child, a baby boy.

She shares, ‘With my young son I was forced to start a small business together with my husband. We were selling onions, potatoes, and kales on the road side. We saved money and luckily we managed to open up a shop where life became a bit fair. In the process of struggling to make ends meet, I was also blessed with a baby girl in the year 2014. This is the year I discovered that I needed a lot of income for my newborn baby.’

It was during this time that Joscah’s life changed in a big way as she came up with the idea for her new business and also started working with Zidisha.

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In January 2014, Joscah developed the idea to start an M-pesa and photocopy business. She decided upon this particular venture as M-Pesa is currently the fasting growing business in her home country of Kenya. This has become increasingly important in recent years as young people in particular need to transfer money from place to place without physically traveling to the place where they are sending the money.

Through her business, Joscah is not only able to empower her own dream, but also those of her children. With part of her profits going towards her children’s education, she is encouraging them to dream big.

Joscah started her journey with Zidisha in December 2017 with a $59 loan from lenders. Because she is in the M-Pesa business, it’s important that she always has at least a small amount of cash on hand when her customers need to send and receive money. Then, with the remaining funds from this loan, she also purchased a new copy machine.

By the end of February, Joscah could already see the impact that Zidisha was playing in her life as she shared on her discussion page, ‘I am very much happy to be in the Zidisha family, I know through this group I can achieve more. May God bless you all for we can achieve our dreams.’

A few months later, in February, March, and May 2018, she secured three additional loans of $71, $71, and $107 to save up for a secondhand laptop computer. This new addition to her business would allow her to type client documents and process online services such as kra prints and passport applications.

By July 2018, Joscah was ready for her next loan, requesting $161 from lenders to purchase printing papers to then resell. She foresaw this as a great opportunity, recognizing that no other business in her area was selling printing papers wholesale.

Most recently, in August and September 2018, she successfully raised two additional loans for $201 and $201 with which she was able to add more cash to her business and also purchased large quantities of printing papers to sell to the local schools. She explains, ‘This will help the school to continue learning smoothly as well as help me to earn a living.’

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This fall, Joscah was proud to share the impact that Zidisha has had on her business and entire family as she shared, ‘Due to Zidisha family loan, my life has completely took a different move. Am able to run my business without much struggle since am being boosted. I bought printing papers that am now supplying to two private schools. This is as a result of the Zidisha family giving me a loan to start the supply. My life is completely in a different level. I can now afford to pay my kids school fees at least. May God bless the Zidisha family. AMEN’

With our Zidisha entrepreneurs, the change that happens is much more than just a financial transaction. When our lenders choose to support a borrower, they are also providing confidence and validation. This is evident with Joscah as she shares, ‘Hello my good lenders, thank you so much for making me what I am today. You have made me feel blessed. Thank you once more for granting me a loan. May God bless you and give you more. Feeling very happy.’

Would you like to help make a difference in the life of  a business owner like Joscah? Don’t forget to check out our Browse Projects page to read about our other amazing entrepreneurs.

 

Growing a Technology Services Business with Zidisha Loans

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Paulson Tembo, right, mentoring a young man with entrepreneurial dreams of his own. Tembo says that the young man would benefit from taking out a loan with Zidisha.

By Daniel Carvalho

When Paulson Tembo heard about Zidisha in 2015, he had already been running his technology services company for three years. Recognizing his entrepreneurial drive, a friend had suggested that he take a look at Zidisha to see if it could help him take his business to the next level. He immediately signed up and took out his first loan which he used to buy a ink cartridge for the copy machine he had. Since then he has taken out more loans to buy two printers and a much better copy machine. This has helped his business steadily grow.

Tybentz Technology Services is strategically located in a small commercial center surrounded by five government schools and a newly built private school, so most of Tembo’s customers are students. Another reason he chose to have his business here is because of the cheap rent, which is due to the fact that the business is housed in a small room made of tin. But Tembo prefers having his business here than in the nicer structure where his business was previously located since so much of his earnings during that time would go towards paying the rent.

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Tembo’s business acumen and the loans he has gotten from Zidisha have helped his business grow to the point that he now spends most of his day providing technology services at schools and businesses while his business partner along with a young man they’ve employed attend to customers at their shop. Tembo is also a volunteer mentor for Zidisha, meaning that he is constantly telling people about the service and assisting them in signing up and securing a loan to help them grow their business. He generally targets young people at his church who seem interested and motivated in starting up their own business.

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Entrepreneurs like Tembo demonstrate the significant impact that low-cost, accessible loans can have on a person’s life and in helping them achieve their professional goals.

 

The Betterment of Their Future

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Millicent Nyokabi Maina, is a 30 year old woman from Kenya who is using education to transform her community. She is also married with two children and is passionate about education, running a school called, Bright Angels Nursery School.

She shares that, ‘I started the School with the aim of making sure children gain a quality education. I learnt that in this area there are so many schools of high standard and very expensive schools. Since most of the people in the area are not well up it is good to have a school which is not expensive for the poor who can not afford the expensive schools. Many children could not go to school because of their poor background. The Bright Angels Nursery School have given lot of children hope to join a school which they can afford with a quality foundation.’

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Millicent first started her school in 2012 and at that time she had about 100 Students in preschool. She knows that parents prefer her school to others because their children will receive a good education for an affordable price.

When Millicent first started with Zidisha, she was planning to have 150 students and 10 teachers in the coming school year. Throughout her time with Zidisha, her lenders have helped her to grow her school by paying for teachers, school rent, and her own daily needs. So far, Millicent has successfully raised 7 Zidisha funded loans ranging from 2013-2018.

While obtaining her first loan of $100 she shared her big vision with lenders, ‘I wish to apply for a loan to improve my business of a nursery school. I have a passion in education and my aim is to make sure as many children can access a quality education in Africa. Kindly lenders bid for my loan to support me to create a good foundation for our people through education and help reduce the level of poverty in Kenya and Africa in general. I hope to take big loans in the future to improve my school. I look forward for your continuous cooperation and support.’

By the time Millicent had raised her fourth loan in April 2015, she was ready to expand and begin renovations on her school. With $819 from lenders she was able to get started on renovations and was also able to cover the costs for new equipment such as, ‘desks, chairs, and tables.’

The following year, in February 2016, she was prepared to continue expanding with one additional classroom and more desks, chairs and tables. And with $1,111 from her lenders, she was able to make this happen.

On Dec 11, 2017, Millicent kindly shared this update on her discussion page, ‘Dear lenders and Zidisha Team, I take this opportunity to thank you all for the great support, so far the School from one level to the other with your support, continue supporting us as we continue supporting the little children for the betterment of their future since they are the world leaders of tomorrow.’

So far, 2018 has been a big year for both Millicent and her school, with two substantial loans from Zidisha lenders. The first, in January 2018, for $1,736 allowed her to purchase a school van to transport her students. She explains, ‘The population of my school have increased tremendously and there is a need to provide transport services to students who come from far distances. This service will help me retain more students and make good returns for my business. I will add USD 2,000 from savings and buy a good Van worth USD 3700. Kindly support me in this worthy venture.’

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Always ready to grow and educate as many students as she can, Millicent recently obtained a $1,909 loan from Zidisha lenders to buy a plot of land to build additional classrooms for her students.

Throughout the world, providing children with a quality education is often a challenge for parents, especially when they lack the financial resources. Through a combination of heart and grit, Millicent has been able to overcome this obstacle and provide a school that is desperately needed in her community.

If you would like to help fund other education projects all around the world, make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page.

Nurturing His Seedlings

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Ronald Kyere starting in the farming business in 2013 with $500 in startup capital. He chose to operate a nursery for cocoa seeds because, as he shares, ‘Few people were doing that and during the farming season cocoa seedlings become scarce. I was able to produce 3,000 cocoa seedlings in my first year. Surprisingly, people were chasing me for it. Now, I am able to produce 300,000 cocoa seedlings throughout the year. Some of the challenges associated with the cocoa nursery include: ordering of the cocoa seeds, nursery site/space/shade, potting/polybag filling, planting seed, watering, and pest and diseases control.’

Ronald expresses his thanks for his lenders as he shares, ‘I give thanks to all the Zidisha lending groups and the individual lenders who made my dream a reality. May God bless and fill all their sources of income so that they may get some to finance the needy ones like me.’

In his time with Zidisha, Ronald has become an experienced borrower, successfully raising 8 loans, the most recent for $2,000. However, as with anything, he was able to start small and he expanded and grew over time.

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That initial loan was raised in February 2015 for $100. With this first loan he purchased cocoa seeds and nursery bags in order to increase the number of seedlings that he was able to produce. He hoped that this would allow him to both satisfy all of his customers and also increase his own income.

Shortly after his first loan, Ronald started to see the positive results of his lenders small investment. He shares, ‘Zidisha community has so far brought me to this far by helping me to cultivate these cocoa seedlings. I was able to use the loan they gave me to buy a water pumping machine, constructed a small dam which supplies me water, and I bought some chemicals for spraying to protect the seedlings from pests infection.

However, soon after, Ronald was met with his next challenge. In April, he raised his second loan of $179 and used the funds to transfer the seedlings from the nursery to the field for cultivation. Because of the heavy workload involved, he employed 5 workers to help with this process.

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Thankful for his lenders, Ronald says, ‘The Zidisha Community has so far helped me a lot through my farming project.They have helped me to cultivate my first seventy thousand cocoa seedlings. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to employ those five workers who are helping me on the farm.’

With his next loan of $345 in June 2015, he was able to control an unwanted problem….weeds! Because he was in the thick of the rainy season, even his 5 workers, weren’t able to do it all on their own. Fortunately, with the help of Zidisha lenders, Ronald was able to hire four additional workers. He also explained that while the cocoa plants are in their infancy they are no match for the weeds and if the weeds are not eradicated they can easily destroy the cocoa plants.

For Ronald, supporting his community is an important value of his. Therefore, part of the loan also went towards financing the education of local orphans in his community supplying them with school fees and feeding fees.

By September 2015, Ronald was continuing to make big strides in his business. With his next loan of $544 he was able to purchase a hundred thousand additional cocoa seedlings. In order to prepare the seedlings he also purchased items such as, ‘rubbers for bagging, fertilizer, land for hiring, cocoa seeds, assistants, agrochemicals, and the cost of the Agriculture Extension Officer to study his seedlings in case of an outbreak of pests or diseases.’

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The following year, in 2016, Ronald successfully raised two Zidisha funded loans, one for $812 in January, and the other for $1,293 in September. With the funds from the first loan he purchased additional seeds and necessary items like a pump machine. Then, with the second loan, he purchased a car! In the past, he had hired a car to do his distributions and had experienced multiple problems, from the high fees, to car failures. Even though it would require a large financial investment, Ronald knew that it would be worth it in the long run!

With his next loan of $1,993 in March 2017, Ronald was able to re-purchase a wide variety of supplies from cocoa seeds to fertilizer and agrochemicals.

Most recently in October, 2018, Ronald was able to secure his largest loan yet, of $2,000. He shares, ‘I thank all my lenders for how far they have bought me. In fact, I am very sincere about their support and counseling they have given to me during my repayment schedules. The loan they gave me yields $540 as profit. I have used some of them ($350) to cater for my family and my two orphans who are in school. My customers this year have approached me to prepare seventy thousand cocoa seedlings for them to buy. After calculations, I can see to its that money in my possession can’t afford the project. I am here to raise a loan to embark on this project. I hope if lenders help me with this project, I am sure I can bag a huge sum of profit.’

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If you would like to support and empower a farmer like Ronald, who is making a difference in his family and community make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page.

The Fruits of Her Labor

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Edith Tumaini is a busy woman, as a wife, business owner, and mother of two children living in the outskirts of Nairobi. In addition to a strong work ethic she also has the educational foundation having taken Business  Management courses all the way up to the college level.

Edith started her farming business after resigning from her work as a banker in order to pursue her passion. She started by putting up a small greenhouse on the property of her compound, fortunate to have the necessary space. She was able to use the money that she received after resigning for her initial start up costs.

To begin, Edith planted tomatoes for a 6 month period. Then, using the money she earned from selling the tomatoes, she purchased an automatic 200 egg incubator which cost $825 dollars. This led her to start hatching and selling quail chicks to farmers. Knowing the importance of continually re-investing in her business, she then used the proceeds from the quail eggs to build a quail and chicken house.

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To explain her business she shares, ‘I do greenhouse farming, planting tomatoes and indigenous vegetables, hatch and rearing quails for both meat and eggs, and I have just started hatching and rearing indigenous chicken. Organic gardening is now being embraced both locally and internationally and as Kenya embraces this technology, investors, farmers, and those already in the organic business are expected to reap high returns. With the agricultural industry having rising environmental concerns, organic gardening seems to be the preferred choice for a majority of farmers. And that’s why I decided to farm organic indigenous chicken and indigenous vegetables because the demand is higher.’

Giving back to her own community has always been a dream of Edith’s and in the future, she hopes to achieve that dream through employing a few members of her town. She shares, ‘When my business expands I know I will be able to increase my stock to about 5000 chickens and have no less than 10 employees, that is where I will say I have life fulfillment because through me more than 10 families will be able to put food on their table and educate their children, and THAT IS MY DREAM.’

With any business, there are obviously costs and risks to consider. Edith explains that in greenhouse farming, the biggest risks are pests and diseases. The solution for this is hiring an agronomist to provide advice on pest control and proper spraying procedures. Regarding quail farming, she mentions that there is not as much risk but that cleanliness is important. With chicken farming, the biggest risk is disease but this problem can be resolved due to vaccinating and by providing the chickens with the right diet and clean water.

Edith was excited to enter the chicken business as she found it to be very profitable, especially as consumers seemed to prefer the organically fed chicken that she was providing.

Overall, in her business, most of her costs are attributed to seedlings, pests, labour, feeds, and agronomist costs. For the quail and chickens, feed is by far the biggest cost.

Fortunately, she was able to help ease the financial burden, as she has partnered with Zidisha and has now successfully raised five loans with the help of lenders.

Starting in April 2014, she began with a loan of $140 which she used to double her number of chickens from 100 to 200. She also used this investment to purchase chicken feeds and vaccinations.

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The following year, in September 2015, she obtained her second loan for $256. Edith found herself ready to take a risk by adding something new to her business. She knew that in her area, fish is considered a delicacy and that driving into town to purchase fish is quite a long drive. By providing fish in her area, she would be offering something that many community members would not have otherwise.

Always growing, by June of 2017, Edith was ready for both another Zidisha funded loan of $378 and also something new to sell. She set her sights on starting a mushroom farm within her compound. By employing two local workers, she was able to construct the building that she would need. Edith notes that even as she is just starting, she already has a ready market for button mushrooms!

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The following year, in April of 2018, Edith ventured into watermelon farming! She had started planting in March and shared her progress a month later as she explains to lenders, ‘They are growing very well, I have managed to spray pesticides, fungicides and foliars from the vegetative stage until now when they are almost fruiting. The plants have grown big, and I am required to buy more and more chemicals for spraying. The cost of buying the chemicals is very high, and that is why I have come back to my Zidisha family to help me complete this last cycle until I harvest and transport melons to the market.’

Most recently, in August 2018, Edith requested her fifth Zidisha funded loan for $492. She shares that pests and diseases can eat up a huge part of a farmers income and that while almost anyone can start a farm, the maintenance aspect is why so many give up along the way.

While her crop was doing well, she still needed to continue purchasing fungicides, pesticides, insecticides and foliar feeds and spray. This is something that she would need to continue doing weekly for the entire year.

At this point, she also started to see the fruit of her labor as she is now able to employ 2 permanent staff workers and 5 part-time workers, allowing her to help both members of her community and their entire families.

Following her August loan, she shared an update with lenders on her discussion page, ‘Dear Zidisha family. Am taking this opportunity to say thank you to all my lenders, without you I wouldn’t have made it this far. I used the money to buy farm chemicals, this helped in maintaining healthy watermelon and disease free, as most of you know watermelon are heavy feeders and maintenance is not easy. The money I received from the watermelon sales I immediately put up a vegetable nursery, transplanted the vegetables and now they are doing well.’

If you would help another entrepreneur reach their dreams, head on over to our Browse Projects Page to read about our other inspirational business owners.

Finding The Missing Thread

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Soehardo Soehadak was born in Ponorogo, Indonesia on October 28, 1968. He received a good education and completed his studies all the way through high school. He enjoyed learning so much that at one point during his childhood he even dreamed of becoming a teacher. Then, in 1996 he was happily able to marry his now wife. Ever since, they have been working together in Salatiga. Once he had obtained some good work experience in the sewing services industry, he decided to go into business for himself!

He shares, ‘In Java, the traditional arts are interesting, yatu reog, Javanese dance and tasters. I am interested in running this business because the clothing business has no death, because clothing includes basic necessities. My convection business, which is done by 3 people, namely me, Iatri and 1 worker. My turnover is an average of 5 million to 7 million a month. While the net profit is around 4 million. I use the net benefits for my child’s school fees, meals and daily necessities.’

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When Soehardo has free time after work, he loves reading and going cycling. He is also a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, joining in July 2018. However, it’s evident that he’s been working hard to grow his business as he’s already successfully raised 9 Zidisha funded loans, all in the short span of 3 months!

Starting small, he raised his very first loan of $1 to purchase sewing needles and cloth. Then, the following month, in August 2018, he raised a total of 3 loans. With his first August loan of $5, Soehardo purchased additional supplies such as, threads and upholstery. He proudly explains, ‘The advantage that I get in producing clothing, helps the community in meeting clothing needs. With this convection business, it can at least add new fields, namely tailoring.’

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Shortly thereafter, he obtained a second loan in August for $13, this one put towards hard cloth or coatings. Then, his third August loan of $19 was used to purchase hard fabrics or upholstery fabrics. By purchasing entire rolls, he was able to save money that he would then be able to use elsewhere in his business.

While his work in August was nothing short of impressive, he really set to work in September. Through the help of Zidisha lenders, he obtained a total of 5 loans in September 2018, allowing him to make exciting changes in his business.

First, he started with a loan of $31, to purchase 11 meters of fabric. Just as in the previous loan, he was excited that by joining with lenders, he could purchase larger quantities of fabric saving him money that he would be able to use elsewhere in his business.

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By the end of September, he had acquired four additional loans for $31, $45, $49, and $104. Each of these loans allowed him to purchase additional fabric and threads. By this time, Soehardo was really enjoying being able to shop at wholesalers rather than paying expensive retail prices for his fabrics and supplies.

In August, Soehardo shared this exciting update with the Zidisha community.‘With this loan, I will buy a large sewing machine, so I can do sewing orders quickly. So far, to fulfill daily needs apart from my sewing income, it can also be obtained from agricultural products. During this time my wife and I have many neighbors and they are good to our family as a sign of my good reputation so far. In my area I have an interesting habit, usually every year there is a celebration of traditional parties, namely eating together as a thanksgiving for harvesting agricultural produce.’

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Between purchasing a sewing machine and now purchasing his materials in bulk from wholesalers, Soehardo has been able to make the most of his Zidisha partnership. Daily, he is making progress on his goals and it’s clear that he is also working hard to serve his community members with beautiful clothing.

If you’d like to support another small business owner like Soehardo, make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read about our other amazing entrepreneurs around the world.