By Betsy Ramser Jaime
As a child, Christine Wawira was raised in Embu county, in central Kenya. Her parents were farmers and also operated their own dairy shop. Christine shares that, ‘Most of my childhood involved going to a local school and also assisting my parents in household chores during the weekends.’
After graduating from high school, Christine hoped to join the Kenyan army and was frustrated and angry when she wasn’t selected to join because of her height. However, even with this disappointment, she was able to find an alternative path for herself as she says, ‘My parents told me that now am an adult and I should cater for myself. I had to travel to Nairobi to look for a job. Luckily I was able to convince some beauty shops that I would hawk their products and we agreed on a commission. I worked hard and in two years time, I saved some money and started my own shop. Then, a friend introduced me to Zidisha where I borrowed a loan for the first time and added stock to my business. I have been borrowing up to date and I have managed to extend a salon, start a pigs project, and also farming where I plant tomatoes.’
Christine is able to sell all sorts of beauty products in her shop such as, ‘hair lotion, body lotion, hair extensions, and earrings.’ She truly loves operating in the beauty industry as she says, ‘I choose this business because being a hairdresser and beauty has been my passion since when I was a kid and I knew I will manage it easily. Having these two businesses together has always saved my time and given me more profit to pay my loan and continue with the pigs & tomato project. I source from wholesalers who have imported from different nations such as Uganda, Dubai, London, and China.’
For her shop, her typical costs include rent, electricity bills, and business permits. She typically makes $800 per month and uses her funds to pay herself, her employees, buying food for her bigs, and providing additional support to her family.
Starting with Zidisha in 2015, Christine has now raised 8 Zidisha funded loans starting with just $100. Shortly thereafter, as Christine prepared for her second Zidisha loan, she shared, ‘First and foremost I would like to thank everyone who funded my first loan. When I get funded for my second loan I will purchase two hair blow dryers. It will greatly assist me since I have a big space and would like to extend a hair salon in my cosmetic shop. Others will benefit since it will be a one-stop-shop for all ladies. My cosmetic shop is stocked with everything needed for good hair and they will not need to source elsewhere.’
In the following two years, in 2016 and 2017, Christine continued to upgrade her shop by adding a comfortable sink and additional stock of cosmetics, braids and weaves. She was also able to contribute part of her Zidisha loans towards her budding farming work, purchasing a water pump, sprinklers, and seeds.
In December 2017, Christine utilized a loan of $1,193 to add more stock to her shop and continue improving her garden. She proudly shared, ‘slowly my dreams are coming true. I will soon be a wholesaler and a big farmer hence more profits. I expect a double profit since pigs are ready to sell, vegetables are basic to all and when it comes to cosmetics, goods will be cheap and affordable to all since I will be a wholesaler.’
Most recently, Christine has added new seats to her salon and is even working hard to purchase a car to be used as both a taxi service and for delivering products to her customers.
Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Christine? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what our other inspiring Zidisha business owners are doing around the world.