Beautifying the Town of Timau

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

‘Through the loan I was given, I have been able to improve my life so much.’

Robert Waweru was born to a humble family in Meru county, Kenya. Money was scarce in the family as he was growing up but even so Robert was able to successfully complete form four. Afterwards, he worked manual labor jobs to pay his way through college and worked in a variety of farming roles. Currently, he is serving as an Evangelist in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa which is located in Timau.

In addition to his role in the Church, he and his wife also have a business together. He explains,‘To continue to have a better life we have to work hard in various things, such we have created a beauty saloon whereby my wife runs it. This business has been helpful to my family and my children to go school.’

Since joining Zidisha in 2015, Robert has received four Zidisha funded loans. His first loan of $100 was received in July 2015 and with this he was able to purchase some new items for the salon including: replacing the blow dry machine, new chairs, and wave plating irons.

By the end of the year, Robert was ready for a second loan in order to increase his stock within the salon. For this loan he requested, ‘$193 and he purchased: weaves $60, hair pieces $35, oil $25, hair chemicals $30, and other cosmetic items $50.

In addition to offering hair services, Robert found that he and his wife were able to sell other items such as handbags and accessories. For this new side of the business, he found himself in need of additional funds to purchase inventory. For this third loan, he raised $390 from Zidisha lenders and purchased: handbags, inner wears, oils and location, weaves, a blow dry machine, and rings.

On January 26, 2017, Robert proudly shared on his discussion page, ‘I wish to inform my lenders that the year 2017 started quite well.Regardless of the drought that is cutting across my country, my business is doing fine. I am happy because I am still able to pay for my loan and still meet other expenses.I look forward to expanding my business that it can meet more needs. I am also looking forward to starting another business in the future as a result of the support I am getting from Zidisha. I once more wish to thank my lenders so much for helping my life to have a new shape. Thanks.

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Shortly thereafter he acquired his most recent and largest loan yet of $573 in August 2017. This change in his business came about through feedback from his customers. He found that customers were also requesting that he and his wife operate not just a beauty salon for women but also a barber shop for men as well. Robert was happy to make this dream a reality for his customers and with this most recent loan he purchased: shaving seats, two shaving machines, and more handbags and cosmetics to sell in the beauty salon. At this point, he predicted that these improvements would result in an increase of profits between 35% and 55%.

On November 13, Robert recently shared, ‘I wish to take this moment to thank my lenders so much. When I got the previous loan I was able to buy some stock and other commodities. This has seen my business grow and also able to meet customers demand. I have also increased my profit about 30%. This has made my financial status to improve. As a result, I have been able to join college and also pay school fees for my daughter who is in high school. I once more wish to thank Zidisha for this great offer and all my lenders.’

Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Robert? Head on over to our Lend page for more inspiration.

The Best Thing

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Jared Mogendi was forced to become resilient at a young age. He is the sixth of eight children and unfortunately in 2012, his father passed away. Growing up in a large family, he found that there were always challenges in terms of education, food, and even providing for basic necessities. His parents were not employed and the family depended on subsistence farming for food and basic needs.

While his early childhood years were certainly not easy, he has blazed a trail in recent years and excelled in his education and as a leader today. As a student, he earned a diploma in Community Development and also a certificate in Computer Science. He also founded the Amazing Smile Children’s Centre which is a project that supports orphans and children from poor families. He notes that the reason for starting this organization is because, ‘ I passed through that and am seeing how many kids from poor families are wasted and orphans neglected in the community.’ Instead of wallowing or remaining stuck in his own pain, he has channeled his energy, passion, and personal experience into a cause that is both critically important and personally fulfilling for him.

In addition to running his center, he is also a Manager of Technologies and runs two cyber businesses in his town. Through his businesses, he is able to provide for his family and also contribute financially to his cause.

To sum up his business, Jared, says, ‘my business is entirely on giving internet services to my clients and other computer related services e.g photo printing, printing, scanning, online services etc.’ He started the business with a combination of both borrowed money and personal savings. With his profits he is able to help support a charity project in his community which supports orphans and vulnerable children by providing education, shelter, food, and clothing. In addition, his profits also allow him to feed his family and educate his children.

So far, Jared has successfully raised seven Zidisha funded loans. With his first loan in October 2016, he requested $6 and purchased three Epson inks which would allow him to provide more services to his customers. With his following three loans in January, February, and April of 2017, he requested $6 for each loan and purchased photo printing papers, envelopes, and laminating films.

Shortly thereafter he was ready for his next three loans in May,  July, and August of 2017. In May he raised $14 which he used to purchase more photocopying paper. Then, by July he requested $33 to purchase additional photocopy paper, photo papers as well as 6 Epson printer ink cartridges. Most recently, in August, he raised $71 which he put towards a binding machine which cost $55 and the remaining sum was used to keep up with the demand for printing paper.

On October 24, 2017, Jared excitedly shared on his discussion page, ‘This has boosted my sales between 200-300 dollars. The profits I use to cater for my family needs eg paying school fees for my daughter, rent to my business and my house, utilities and other needs. I also support orphans where I purchase food, clothes, schools items etc to ensure they also have a better future.’

Jared is an ideal example of what it means to love and support your community whether you are able to contribute $1 or $1 million dollars. He knows that it’s not the amount of money, but the heart behind the cause. He succinctly shares, ‘I love doing charity despite the fact I have little resources to support them but it’s the best thing one will ever do for  mankind.’

If Jared’s story resonated with you, make sure to head on over to our Lend page to learn more about Zidisha and our amazing borrowers all over the world.


A Model of Resilience

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Emmanuel Omondi was born in Kendu-bay, a small town within the lake side region of Lake Victoria. He was raised by a single mother who was determined that he receive a basic education, even if it wasn’t always easy. Unfortunately, as a young primary student, his mother passed away leading him to transfer to a village school where he lived with his grandmother.

The pain of losing a parent took a toll on Emmanuel and as ne notes, ‘it took me some time to overcome that.’ However, in the midst of his sorrow, he received assistance from donors and well-wishers who helped him reach the high school level. Shortly thereafter, Emmanuel’s resilience was once again tested, when he lost his two other siblings and grandmother within a short period of time. He shares, ‘I had to learn fighting my battles and started that by looking after herds of cattle for people in a neighboring village, where I saved some money that gained enrollment into a technical college where I learned electrical engineering and IT.’

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On the weekends, he worked on construction sites as a hard laborer to help pay his college fees. During this period of his life where he had experienced so much pain and loss, the silver lining was that he found a new passion, computers. Combining his love for computers and his training in IT, he decided to start his own business. To raise the necessary start up capital he did outdoor computer maintenance jobs for schools, offices, and small firms in his city.

He describes his business as, ‘an all way round computer as from cyber all the way to computer servicing and repair to photo production studio and in future selling of computers and accessories.’ He is now determined to be the best computer services provider in his area. He continues, ‘In my village, people seems to have been behind digitally and my shop with my services would bring them up to date with the digital world, and also saves some time to these who would travel all the way to the city just to repair, maintain or buy computers. The profit I gain from my business would be used mostly in reinvestment and growing the business so as to create room to employ others to help me with the business since we have job scarcity in my region and not everyone can think of a business to do. Otherwise my girl also has to go to school and I will have to save for her education.’

When he is not working, he enjoys visiting the elderly members of his village and hearing their stories or spending time with his daughter who at the moment, loves gadgets and flying objects!

So far, Emmanuel has received four Zidisha funded loans, beginning in April 2016 when he received a $50 loan. With this first loan, he was able to do some upgrades and software updates. He noted that these improvements would upgrade the quality of his service which would hopefully result in more customers.

As the year came to a close, he sought out his second loan in December 2016 for $75 to update the branding and advertising for his shop. This loan would contribute to adding new work tables and simple seating as well as adding new branding materials such as catalogues and brochures. The last improvement would include painting the workshop. This would also create jobs for at least two young adults to help with these changes. He predicted that these changes would help to increase his profit by 25%.

A few months later, he was ready for his third loan in April 2017 for $110 as he shared with Zidisha lenders, ‘Thank you very much my dear lenders and Zidisha team for your continuous support. My business is almost on track but still needs to put in more effort and I am here again for your help. The requested amount will help me buy the following items,

– two wide-screen monitors for enough editing space and will cost me about $86.

– one 4G wireless Internet router for easy on-line connection and communication and this will cost me $32. Having an efficient workshop will make us a good working environment and by that I am expecting profit to shoot by at least 13% or above.’

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Most recently, Emmanuel obtained a fourth loan for $275 in October of this year. He recently shared that thanks to his dear lenders and the Zidisha team, his business is in a much better position now than it was two years again because of the help of the Zidisha community.

At this point, he is now ready to move his business to a better location. He has secured an office space and is optimistic that moving his business to a more ideal location will allow him to bring in more customers and more money. In August, he excitedly took to the discussion board to share 4 big changes with his lenders:

  1. In the last 8 months his workshop has grown from two computers to four high speed machines with the latest widescreen LED monitors
  2. He upgraded the data reception from 2G to 4G
  3. He upgraded the tables and chairs for more comfortable seating
  4. His daughter is going to school and he doesn’t have to worry about how to pay her school fees.

Through these changes, Emmanuel has been able to serve his community by donating his old machines to a local orphanage school called, Joysprings Academy where he also volunteers as a Project Manager and Teacher.

Would you like to finance a loan for another hardworking entrepreneur like Emmanuel? Head on over to our Lend page and read about hundreds of inspiring businesses.

The Compassionate Kids School

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Emmanuel Nkrumah is a man who wears a lot of hats as a trader, farmer, social worker, and founder of a school. In his work as a trader, he sells foodstuffs and agro-chemicals on market days in his village to farmers. This is an important need as farming employs 95% of the people in his community. He has also found that these products sell quickly and that he is able to make a sustainable profit.

As a social worker, he works with the NGO, Compassion For Humanity Foundation. Through this organization they help the community and youth learn a trade that they can pursue as a career. In addition, he has also started a school called, ‘Compassionate Kids School’ so that the children in his community could receive a better education. This is particularly close to his heart as he has four children of his own.

Since Emmanuel discovered Zidisha in 2013, he has successfully raised 7 loans with a consistent and high repayment rate. He set out to raise his first Zidisha funded loan back in December 2013 and requested $49 from lenders. With this loan, he was able to purchase more fertilizers and seeds to sell to farmers on market days, thus increasing his overall stock. He notes, ‘This not only will improve my business but my life and support my family as well.’

After successfully repaying his first loan, he was ready for his next one in February 2014, for $139. For this loan, he purchased farm tools, as these had been requested by his customers. He also needed to continually replenish his stock of fertilizers and seeds. The following month, Emmanuel was ready for a $393 loan as he found himself ready to purchase a freezer so that he could start selling fresh fish. The remainder of the loan was put towards additional farming products and tools to sell.

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By June 2014, he was ready for another loan of $497 as he shared with lenders, ‘With your support my business has grow well of the few months I join Zidisha. My Current loan is to help me buy more farm product and tools for sale. I have the intention to also buy new product as well. Also, I plan to buy more fresh fish, since I now have a freezer, and the frozen fish business is doing well. I believe this will keep my business ongoing. Thanks Zidisha, really this is the place to Secure an affordable online loan for greater works.’

With his next loan, in March 2015, for $725, he was ready for help in investing in his school. He noted that the loan would go towards teaching and learning materials for the children as well as a poly tank so that the children would have water. He explains, ‘We lack water at the moment, as the rains have not started and sometimes we have to drink from a stream within the town. Before we used to harvest rain water, but now there is no rain and no water for the school. Daily, children are ask to pay 1 Ghc and these will be used to support the repayment of the loan. The loan will also be used to assist children who are unable to pay for daily feeding at the school and later parents pay back. So all children can have the right to the quality education that Compassionate Kids School is offering.’

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By the end of 2015, Emmanuel was ready for another Zidisha funded loan of $681. He shared that with the assistance of parents and teachers, his school has been able to add three classrooms. However, with this loan, they will be able to purchase roofing sheets for the school building.

Most recently, he requested a loan of $910 in June 2017 in order to purchase tools and equipment for the students who are trying to learn a trade. In addition, by having these tools available to take home with them, they can earn an additional income for themselves and their families. The remainder of the loan not used for these tools was put towards supporting the school with books and materials.

Would you like to invest in a community, teacher, or leader like Emmanuel? Make sure to head on over to our Lend page to read stories of dozens of borrowers working hard to improve their communities.

Paving the Way for the Next Generation

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Brenda Otieno is a native Kenyan who has had to work incredibly hard for everything that she has achieved. Growing up, the free primary school program was not yet available and with a pension of 40 dollars per month, her father struggled to support his eight children, meaning that she was in and out of school. However, she didn’t let this defeat her, instead, she developed the mindset and perspective that education was her key to make it in life. This led to her receiving a ‘best student’ award for her school and later on attending and graduating from Masinde Muliro University.

After graduating she says, ‘Employment in Kenya was not forthcoming, thus I followed my passion for entrepreneurship.’ Since then, she has run a variety of businesses. Her first was buying curtains from a secondhand market to resell. Then, she saved up for a motorbike and now her nephew is able to run her motorbike venture for her, securing profits for both of them. Because motorbikes are a popular means of transportation in Kenya, she knew this was a great market to enter into.

Zidisha lenders have stood by Brenda through 8 Zidisha funded loans, and with good reason, considering her repayment rate of 100%. Always persistent and determined she shares, ‘I would not like my children to experience the kind of life that I did. My first born would like to be a journalist when she grows up and I am determined to make her dreams valid. I purpose to sharpen my entrepreneurial skills and make their future better and brighter and make them financially independent, realizing their full potential through innovation and entrepreneurship hence solving problems. I wish this for women in general by initiating several groups (chama) for savings and investing.’

For her first of eight loans, she requested $50 in August 2015 to purchase an additional helmet for the motorbike passenger. This is essential as it is against the law in Kenya to ride on a motorbike without a helmet. The remainder of the loan was put towards a new side mirror for the bike as the current one was broken. Two months later, she requested her second loan of $100 and with this loan she purchased insurance for the bike.

In January of 2016, Brenda was in need of a personal loan, and of course, her loyal lenders were happy to help. She requested $199 to pay the school fees for her children. $145 went directly for the tuition fees and the rest was put towards other school materials that her children would need. At the time of this loan, she shared with lenders, ‘This will give me satisfaction as a parent as my children will be able to attend school comfortably without any problems and I will be able to have peace of mind and concentrate more on other income generating activities to make their future better. In the past they have been in and out of school due to lack of school fees hence this money if you lend me will assist in keeping them in school hence better performance in class.’

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In 2016, Brenda secured two Zidisha funded loans in April and August for $201 and $302. With the April loan she set to raise money in order to purchase a new set of wheels for the motorbike as well as brake pads. This loan also included the cost of labor for the mechanic. She explains, ‘This is a rainy season in Kenya and most of the roads are not tarmacked thus the worn out wheels will not be able to withstand the harsh conditions during this season as the friction of the wheels on the roads is reduced due to wetness. The brake pads will minimize the occurrence of accidents as the ones I currently have are overused.’ Then, for her August loan she bought a tracking device for her motorbike as well as a carrier for transporting goods and other small parts. She felt more confident knowing that the tracking device would help prevent theft.

Most recently, Brenda has requested two loans so far in 2017 in January and later on in October for $453 and $1,226. The first loan went towards school fees for her daughters. Her first born has just joined the upper class and her second born has just started class one in primary school. The October loan will be put towards her other business which is curtain and tent making. She has been using a manual sewing machine but she knows that upgrading to an electric machine would greatly improve her business. This will allow her to work at a faster rate and to increase her overall production and output.

On October 18, she recently shared, ‘I am very pleased by the faith you have shown in me and financing my loan. May the our good Lord increase you beyond your expectation as you help us to grow here in Africa. My dream of owning a sewing machine has come to pass, thank you for coming to my rescue in this entrepreneurial journey.’

It is clear that everything that Brenda has done and achieved has been to pave the way for her girls and the next generation. She appropriately sums it up by explaining, ‘I would like to invest in my children’s future because they are the leaders of tomorrow and I wish to see them prosper and have a better life than I managed to have myself so that they may be able to assist others in their generation and make a difference in people’s lives.’

Would you also like to make a difference in the next generation? Head on over to our Lend page to read about other parents working to create a better world for their children.

Building His Way to the Top

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Senaya Edem Kwasi is a Ghanaian man with a vision. He was brought up in the Ho village until he was about 12 years old and then his father took him to the city to be educated. When he had reached stage 5, his father asked him to stop school to learn fitting (as a mechanic). At this point, Edem was faced with two options. The first option was to become an apprentice mechanic while the second was to continue his education, but by doing so, he would be on his own and forced out of his father’s house. Edem knew that he wanted to continue his education and he found himself on the streets and working menial jobs to make a little money.

After a lot of hard work and saving, he enrolled in a private school to finish his primary education. Afterwards, he continued by enrolling in a Junior High School for the following three years. This was by no means an easy season of life for him and he says, ‘The only way to work my way through is to be working whilst going to school and studies became very difficult because I am always tired at the end of the day. Luckily for me, I had a penpal from Canada who decided to sponsor my education and I had to study hard.’

He was then able to sit for his final exams where he finished as the second best student in his class! As a result of his impressive scores, he was admitted to Mawuli Senior High School. For Edem, the next step was university. He carried his strong work ethic with him to secondary school and was later admitted to Kwame Mkrumah University of Science and Technology where he chose to study Civil Engineering.

Starting university was difficult, as the financial burden was heavy. Fortunately, he was awarded a full scholarship by Educational Pathways International, which eased the financial aspect. However, he knew that it was essential that he maintain top scores in order to keep his scholarship. He proudly shares, ‘By God’s grace, I graduated from the University with a second class upper honors degree in Civil Engineering. I graduated from the university at the age of 28 years! I did the compulsory national service and have gotten a job with a Chinese company where I worked for about four months.’

Now that he has completed his studies, Edem has a new goal in mind. He adds, ‘It has been my desire to make life a little easier and create opportunities for people around me. So with this in mind, coupled with the high unemployment rate in Ghana, I have decided to form my own construction company. It has been duly registered and I have obtained license for operation last year. The name of my company is Conciv Engineering Services. Conciv is currently in operation but on a sub contract basis.’

Here is what Edem has to share about the business, ‘Conciv Engineering Services (CES) is a construction company formed in the year 2015. The main idea behind the formation of this firm is to provide employment to the many unemployed youth in Ghana and also bring relief to others by providing them with quality services at an affordable prices.The mission statement of CES is : To become the number one construction and infrastructure development company in Ghana, a national player who safely, profitably and sustainably delivers best-in-class integrated services, products and solutions to meet our client’s needs. The vision statement of CES is: Bridging the infrastructural development gap between the rural and urban centers.’

For Edem, education is close to his heart because of the many personal struggles that he went through to receive a good education. He hopes that his new business will be able to provide the much needed infrastructure and support to rural children who struggle to keep up with their classmates living in cities. For children living in rural areas, they often have to walk long distances just to get to school in the morning. Edem is optimistic that he can use his company as a vehicle to create better opportunities throughout Ghana.

Edem is excited and optimistic about his continuing partnership with the Zidisha community. So far, he has had four Zidisha funded loans. He requested his first loan of $10 in August 2016 to purchase a printer. He knew that a printer would allow him to print reports and proposals when meeting with firms or individuals for his business. In addition, as a new business owner, he also predicted that he would need to print flyers and business cards, which his new printer would make possible. By using his own printer, he could create these materials for a fraction of the cost.

A few months later, Edem sought out his second Zidisha funded loan in December of 2016 and for this loan he requested $19. With this loan, he was ready to purchase some equipment. He continues, ‘I am currently working on sub contracts but with limited tools and other constructional equipment. To pursue the CES agenda of bridging the infrastructural development gap between the rural and the urban centres, CES needs fund with which to start so we are currently working on contracts in order to gather enough funds for that.’

For his third loan, in January 2017, he once again requested $19 to promote and implement a water closet toilet design that he developed for his community. As he says, ‘The existing structure is in a dilapidated condition and is a death trap.’

Most recently, Edem secured his fourth loan in March 2017 for $471. His largest loan yet, he is excited to make progress on this new project. For this loan, he is using the money to pre-finance a construction project. The money will be used for labor costs. While this is a huge project that he is taking on, it’s clear that he is ready and willing for a new challenge.

In his words, ‘I am a determined person and always pursue my dreams till the finish line.’

Do you have a heart for education like Edem? If so, head on over to our Lend page to find other hard working students that need your support.

Changing his own life now…to someday change the world

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Bismark Mawuse Bissi is a twenty three year old student living in Takoradi, Ghana. His parents, Ernest Bissi and Rebecca Arkon are both subsistence farmers and have fifteen children. Bismark is their youngest. Out of the fifteen, Bismark is one of three, who was able to further his education. As a younger student, he was able to do some basic trading with his mother and aunties to pay for his basic needs.

After completing his secondary education, because of financial struggles in his hometown of Juapong, he moved to Takoradi to find a job and to continue his education. The economic struggles in his home city were due the collapse of the only textile company in the city. His new city of Takoradi is the oil and harbor city of Ghana. Upon moving, he was able to secure a job with a security company as a night security guard. His new life keeps him pretty busy as during the day he is a level two hundred student at I.P.M.C Training College pursuing a diploma in Computer Systems Engineering.

He found himself struggling to pay his expensive school fees and was unable to get a loan. Fortunately, a friend of his introduced him to Zidisha. Through Zidisha, he has been able to receive three loans to pay his tuition and school fees. He continues to use his monthly salary as a security guard to help repay his loans. Bismark is excited to finish his diploma and in the future he hopes to be able to employ many of the unemployed youth throughout his country.

He shares, ‘My ambition is that one day, I will also marry and have kids where I will be much more responsible for giving them quality education, and also supporting my community in the areas of education, sport, good health, etc.’

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While it’s hard to imagine that he has much free time between his intensive studies and a night job, he enjoys reading, researching, football, and boxing.

Once he finishes school he hopes to go into the repair and servicing of computers for companies and selling of computers and computer hardware parts. In life, a big indicator of success and happiness is simply surrounding yourself with the right people and choosing a good environment. His new city of Takoradi is the third biggest commercial town in Ghana with a harbor and an abundance of shipping and clearing companies. There is also some oil exploration in the deep sea leading to a lot of economic activity.

Bismark shares with lenders, ‘I believed it’s a right place for me to use my skills, creativity, innovation and marketing, so as to liberate myself and my family from the shackles of poverty, and then make a meaningful living. It’s also my plan to expand to other nearby towns and cities. Computer literacy is still low in most of the basic and second cycle schools. It’s my hope that if my loan is successful with Zidisha and I am able to complete my course, I would make computer literacy in rural communities a priority. Computer Information Technology (I.C.T.) can be a useful tool in fighting world poverty and that is one reason why I am joining this rightful course.’

In the future, he is also interested in the buying and selling of security gadgets like CCTV cameras to enhance security situations in cities. He believes that this would allow citizens to feel a deep sense of security as they go about their daily business and lives. In addition, as he plans for his business post graduation, he is prepared to make reinvestment into the business a main priority for the first three years. He is also looking forward to being able to provide financial assistance to his family members and neighbors. Furthermore, he believes that he will be able to employ at least 4 people to assist him in his business.

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So far, Bismark has successfully secured 3 Zidisha funded loans. He requested his first loan of $174 in July 2016 and he put this loan towards his school fees. He also used part of the loan to purchase a used laptop computer.

A few months later, he secured his second loan in December 2016 of $354. He was able to use this loan to pay his semester school fees and to buy books for his academic work. He notes that he really appreciates the Zidisha support as having this loan allows him to pay his fees on time avoiding the harassment and embarrassment that students often receive from school authorities when they don’t pay on time.

His most recent loan was acquired in June of 2017 when he requested $535. Similar to the others, this loan was put towards his school fees as he prepared to start his 300 level coursework. He thankfully shares with lenders, ‘Counting on the good lenders on the Zidisha platform for your kindness and generosity. Thank you all in advance, and God bless you all.’

Would you like to make an impact in the life of a student or entrepreneur? Head on over to our lend page to read about other incredible Zidisha borrowers.