By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Alex Ndiema is a Kenyan entrepreneur, husband, and father of two children. Growing up, he attended Mt. Elgon Primary School and successfully passed his KCPE examination, but was unable to continue his education because of a lack of fees.
During that time, he was already cultivating his entrepreneurial mindset as he borrowed a camera from a friend on a commission basis until he could purchase his own, and began earning money taking photographs. And today, he still holds onto that camera as a great memory of that time.
The following year, he was able to start secondary school at Mt. Mary’s and upon completing his studies, he did some computer coursework. Afterwards, he received a job offer in the industrial area where he gained experience and worked for 5 years.
Along the way, as Alex got married and had a child, he found that the money that he was earning was not enough to support his growing family. Using the little money that he had saved, he chose to delve into entrepreneurship.
While starting up and getting some traction, Alex started as a Mandazi (fried bread, sometimes called an African donut) business and also did shop keeping, and cyber cafe services. Starting out, he had two computers and one printer, offering scanning, copying, and printing.
Alex shares the beginning of his journey as he says, ‘The business had little or no competitors, so I grew up very fast, I had a lot of customers but few computers, it was not late to re-organize myself since I got introduced to Zidisha by a friend (Abigael), from there Zidisha took charge of my finances as far as business expense and assets are concerned. Right now I have a full Cybercafe, an equipped Photo Studio, an Mpesa and lastly, I have started doing supplies. Glory be to God and much thanks to Zidisha and my lenders.’
From the time that Alex joined Zidisha in August 2017, he has been able to raise 12 Zidisha funded loans. His growth is unbelievably as his first loan was for $7 and his most recent was over $1,000. With his first 3 loans in 2017, Alex utilized the funds to purchase photocopy materials and a printer.
As 2017 came to a close, Alex was determined to add a color printer to his shop. Not having a color printer of his own, he’d have to hurry to a neighboring business to use their color printer each time a customer required color services. He knew that having his own would allow him to offer swift service and would also please his customers. In addition, a color printer would allow him to print photographs, and assist with passport photos, increasing his services. Alex excitedly explains, ‘people tent to go far to get their pictures printed, by getting that printer, I would have made it easy for the surrounding customers and community at large. That will also spell an expansion of my business and can also bring about employment to the future generation.’
In his business, 2018 was an extraordinary year of growth as he purchased a copy machine for large volumes of printing, bought studio lights, a new camera, and he even changed his location.
For Alex, obtaining the studio lights was especially important as his poor lighting had been hindering his ability to offer high quality passport photos for his customers. He even set out to do his own research, traveling to other shops and paying for their photo services to gain ideas for improving his own lighting and backgrounds.
Throughout 2019 and so far in 2020, Alex has been able to raise 3 loans from Zidisha lenders. The first loan allowed him to venture into another business, offering supplies such as, photocopy papers, and detergents.
With his most recent loans, Alex has been able to keep adding funds to his Mpesa business and also purchasing stock for the cybercafe.
Proud of himself and how far he’s come, Alex shared this update with lenders on March 22, ‘The previous loan that I took was for my business expansion. It really helped me a lot since I pumped the cash into my Mpesa and Cooperative agent in form of float and cash rotation. This enabled my business to run smoothly without the hiccups of running short of cash or float to serve my customers. As a result I missed no transaction and resulted in high commission and my customers were guaranteed of service and were 100% sure when they come to my shop. To my employees, it boosted their morale since there was enough capital and they knew very well that what ever they were doing will earn them a salary at the end of the month.’
Would you like to impact the life of an entrepreneur like Alex? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about inspiring Zidisha business owners all around the world.