Reading is a Beautiful Culture

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Wilson Wasonga has had a passion and love for books for as long as he can remember.  Born and raised in Kenya, he was able to continue his education up until the college level. And today, he is sharing that love for books with others as a books seller, as he likes to say, ‘reading is a beautiful culture.’

He has a family and children and after saving for ten years, he has been able to build his own home. His big audacious dream for himself is to be a financial independent man and he continues to work towards this goal as he builds his business and desires to open a school supermarket by the end of 2022.

He shares, ‘my major aim is to help those who cannot afford school products in learning days by renting them the used and new school books and stationary at a fees so that their children and themselves can get the required learning materials.’

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Wilson likes to say that he is a ‘books man.’ With only $4, he started his business in 2008 with a small stall. Since starting, he transparently shares that it’s not always easy. He says, ‘It is a challenging business because it has some peak months in January, February, April, August and December. So that is the time I get good business while part of the months the business provide availability to survive on.’

Between himself, his wife, and one employee, he is able to continue the business going while generating between $450-600 during the high season and between $300-400 during the low season.

Because of the seasonal nature of his work, when Wilson first discovered Zidisha, he knew that this would help him sustain his business during the rough off season. As a relatively new member of the Zidisha community, he received his first Zidisha funded loan in June 2018, where he started with $9 to purchase school stationary for his stall.

A few months later, he raised a second and then a third loan for $12 and $19 which enabled him to purchase pencils and calculators.

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Since then, Wilson has successfully raised 5 loans growing his business along the way. With these 5 loans he raised amounts of $41, $60, $264, $343, and $485. As 2018 came to a close Wilson continued to raise funds for his calculators using both the $41 and $60 specifically for this purpose.

By mid 2019, Wilson was ready to add additional paper to his inventory. With $264 from Zidisha lenders, he was able to purchase reams of papers at a cost of 380 Kenyan Shillings to be resold for 500 Kenyan Shillings.

Always keeping an eye on the market and his customer needs, Wilson decided to stock up on novels as July rolled around. He explained that during the months of July-September people enjoy relaxing with a book. With this in mind, Wilson was able to purchase a bulk order of books, around 400 novels. By selling each book for 150 Kenyan Shillings ($1.45 USD) he would be able to double his profit.

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Most recently, in August 2019, Wilson was able to raise, $485 for one of the most important times of the year, back to school. Using the loan to stock exams and back to school materials such as, ‘mathematical tables, rulers, calculators, rubbers, pencils, and pens.’ Because students are required to have all of their materials for the entire term, this is a great business season for Wilson!

Wilson is also proud that through the success of his business, he has been able to hire an employee. Creating employment for the unemployed members of his community is something that Wilson has dreamed of since starting his business, and now he is seeing this dream come to fruition. Wilson shares, ‘He thanks me as he had no job in the process, so thanks for putting a smile in his eyes.’

Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Wilson to be able to employ their own community members? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about dozens of other inspiring Zidisha entrepreneurs.

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