By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Grace Suge grew up as the daughter of civil servants in the police force and had four brothers. She grew up in a stable home and today she is a mother herself.
Grace shares, ‘The civil servants in Kenya, especially those in the police service, have been known to earn meager wages but despite that and with their meager earnings my parents managed to put us through school which gave us a good start in life. All through our primary and High school education, we were taken to day-schools where we used to walk more than 2 Kilometers to and from school. I overcame all the challenges and now I hold a Master’s degree in business administration (MBA)-Finance and banking option.’
Now, Grace is full of enthusiasm and passion for social entrepreneurship. Like many people around the world, Grace has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as she explains, ‘I took out my last loan to boost my solar lanterns business and it performed well before the world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. When cases of the disease started to crop up in my country, there was a near-total lockdown of the country. We simply could not move as we endeavored to slow down its spread. Businesses shut down, including mine. But all in all, I managed to honor my loan commitment to my Zidisha lenders, missing not one of my weekly installments. This I did by immersing myself in a hobby and a passion hitherto relegated to a back seat when I cleared my primary school education.’
While Grace found herself filled with worry and fear, she refocused her energy into writing and publishing creative short stories.
Finding success with this new venture, she was even awarded second prize in the Creators of Justice Awards 2020 by the International Human Rights Arts Festival.
Explaining her most recent work, she says, ‘The book explores the lives of the Ilmaasae nation living in the Maasai plains during the pre and post-colonial period in Kenya’s history and aims to preserve their heritage for future generations. I am currently working on a sequel to this novel which I purpose to publish by July 2021. On the lineup are two more novels and a compilation of short stories to be published soon. On another front, I recently revived my previous business of sugar supply which together with the sales of my novels locally and my prize winnings enabled me to repay my loan satisfactorily.’
Since joining Zidisha at the beginning of 2017, Grace has now raised 6 Zidisha funded loans, ranging from $264 to $1,169.
So far, Grace has been able to use her Zidisha funded loans to continue her education, build a septic tank, purchase a water tank, and buy sugar to resell.
Then, in 2019, she ventured into solar lanterns, sharing, ‘Keen on shaping and transforming opportunities in my area, I introduced solar lantern distribution to boost the sugar supply franchise. To improve on my cash flow I plan to diversify my enterprise to realize approximately $10,000 in revenue per year. Taking advantage of my extensive network of customers, I plan to utilize the loan proceeds to buy 20 units of the S300 solar lanterns retailing at Kshs.2,800 ($28) and 58 units of S20 variety retailing at Kshs 960 ($ 9.6). I am again humbly seeking funding from our Zidisha lenders. Kindly support me in my endeavor to economically empower my community in Kenya by the provision of affordable energy and lighting sources as we leave a zero-carbon footprint in our environment.’
Most recently, Grace went back to her Zidisha discussion page in June 2021 to share this update, ‘Dear Lenders, Thank you for being there for me and my business when I needed funding for growth. I believe I have done my utmost to repay all loans faithfully and will strive to continue to do so now and in the future.’
Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Grace? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what other Zidisha business owners are doing all 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.