By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Lilian Wambui lives in Kahawa West, Kenya, and runs a business selling clothes, shoes, and school bags. She’s been running the business for over 7 years and thinks of the business as a huge part of her life, as it’s her sole source of income. Through the business, she is able to support her family as a single mother.
Since some of her products are items for school, her sales can vary based on the academic calendar, and when students are at school or at home.
Lilian joined the Zidisha community in 2014 and started with an initial loan of $50. Since then, she has raised loan amounts upwards of $300.
Obtaining Zidisha loans has been a great way for Lilian to keep herself ahead of the competition. Like many business owners, Lilian started out with less stock than she would have liked, lacking the funds to buy more. Unfortunately, this meant that customers would have to shop elsewhere, leaving her with missed opportunities. Through her Zidisha loans, she’s able to keep her shop stocked up.
With her second loan in June 2014, Lilian raised $149 and shared, ‘thank you, lenders, for your kind support it has really helped me to improve my business. I am able to support my kids and my mam, I am wishing to use the Zidisha loan to introduce men’s trousers, shirts, and t-shirts, it will be a great opportunity since I will be able to incorporate both menswear and womenswear. I have been facing challenges since men complain I don’t sell their clothes so they just pass my shop and go to my neighbor. This has affected my shop negatively losing male customers because I don’t have what they need. I will be very grateful when offered that loan so that I am able to stock the menswear and support my family more. My business will grow now and the income increases. Thank you.’
After seeing the positive impact of including both menswear and womenswear in her shop, Lilian also expanded to include childrenswear. Another positive change is that she has decided to add more diversity to her sizing, to meet the needs of customers of all sizes.
By 2015, Lilian was ready to add a new product category, shoes, to her shop as she explains, ‘Thanks for giving me this opportunity. I am kindly requesting to borrow a loan to buy new shoes. In my shop, the shoes are in high demand since once they purchase clothes they want a shoe that matches them but I direct them to my neighbor’s shop thus losing that sale. These shoes will make my life better due to their profit margin which will help me to afford to pay my rent on time, pay school fees, and buy medicine for my mama. With the profit, I will also be able to enlarge my shop from the outside where I will put up a shoe rack for those shoes thus improving my shop.’
Most recently, in January 2023, Lilian raised $302 to continue to add new stock such as, ‘school bags, school shoes, and womenswear. This is a popular time of year for her business as this is when children typically return to school.
Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Lilian? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what other Zidisha business owners are doing around the world.
Betsy is a Writer and Editor living in Florida with her husband. She has been writing with Zidisha for 5 years and loves sharing the inspiring stories of Zidisha entrepreneurs. You can connect with her on her personal website.