By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Jesper Kumuhuza grew up in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, where his father worked as a truck driver for a Catholic mission. Jesper shares, ‘It was not an easy job for my dad to educate six children from the income he got from his job as a driver. We used to walk about 10 kilometers from and to school every weekday with my siblings and a few friends.’
While not easy, Jesper managed to work hard and completed his high school education as he says, ‘Attaining education in the village was challenging as there were a lot of hurdles that I faced personally and as a family. It was through my determination and hard work that I managed to pull through to grade 12. Despite the hardships I went through, I scored good results and got accepted at the University of Zambia.’
Jesper loves the town of Chipata and explains that it is a good place to live as there are good business opportunities, it is developing at a high rate, and it is also a border town.
As he reflects on his life he shares that, ‘From college, I learnt that life/education is not about getting a job only, but changing the environment. I believe in a poverty-free community. I want to plant a good environment for my children, family and community; hence I started my own business. One thing that has helped me to overcome my challenges in life and pull through is because I am super focused, determined and organized on what I believe in and what is good for my life and the community I live in.’
While he certainly stays busy as an entrepreneur, he also loves reading and researching in his free time as he enjoys surfing the internet and staying up to date with the world.
Currently, Jesper runs his own poultry business of 300 chickens. Typically, he purchases small chicks from local sellers and then raises them as chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Zambia. Chicken is popular as it is affordable even on a small income.
Jesper is able to sell a whole chicken for about $3.80. Through his business profits he is able to pay for his housing costs, bills, and food. The remaining profits are used to help care for his aging father and reinvestment into the business.
In the past two years, Jesper has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans with the help of lenders. With an initial loan of $176 in August 2016, Jesper expanded his business by purchasing additional feed, medicine, and chicks. Each bag of feed cost about $24.30 and each bottle of medicine was purchased for $17. He predicted that this kickstart would result in increased profits and the ability to hire an employee.
After witnessing the positive impact of his first Zidisha funded loan, Jesper was ready to expand to start off the new year in 2017! His second loan of $264 put him in a good position to purchase additional equipment as he had previously expanded his space. This loan provided for feeders and drinkers, costing $6 each. By this point, he also found that hiring an additional set of hands would be crucial to continue to grow. He hoped to hire someone part-time and then eventually be able to keep them on a permanent basis.
Ready to take the next step in his business, Jesper set out to open a selling center for dressed chickens. And with a $529 loan from Zidisha lenders, he was ready to put his plan into action! He explains, ‘This is one of my expansions in the business as I look forward to a greater future. I am therefore going to use this loan to pay for rentals for the shop I will be using, which costs about $50 per month. I also wish to buy a small refrigerator costing about $300 that I will use in preserving the dressed chickens. I will also buy a butchery scale to use in selling the chickens. The scale costs about $100. Among the things I need to purchase for this new project are plastic bags for our customers also.This will help us increase profit and sales because now we will be able to sell even chicken pieces to people who cannot manage to buy a full chicken.’
Most recently, in June 2018, Jesper secured his largest loan yet, of $615 to purchase a motorbike for transportation. Jesper found that transporting his poultry from the production facility to the market was proving to be a big challenge. He had tried hiring a van but found this option to be quite expensive at $10 per trip. In a single month this was amounting to $100 in transportation costs.
He explains the benefits as he shares, ‘The motorbike will help me to transport the chickens from the poultry to the market on a daily basis. It will be less costly to transport the chicken with the bike as it has low fuel consumption and maintenance is affordable. The bike will also help me to deliver chickens to customers’ homes. Some customers prefer calling for chickens to be delivered to their homes hence the motorbike will help a lot in this area.
For Jesper, becoming an entrepreneur and a member of the Zidisha community has been life-altering as he proudly expresses, ‘Being an entrepreneur has improved my life. I have learnt alot and continue to learn more. Being independent and financially stable is what I have always aimed for and surely through this route (entrepreneurship) I will live my dreams sooner than later. Thank you always to the lenders on Zidisha for the great support.’
Would you like to improve the life of an entrepreneur like Jesper? Make sure to check out our Browse Projects page to read about our other inspiring business owners!