Viewing the World Through a New Lens

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By Betsy Ramser Jaime

Hezron Mwangi grew up in Nyahururu, Laikipia West County, Kenya, with his mother and three sisters. He shares that his childhood was not easy as he watched his mother struggle to support her children and send them to school. Because he was the only son and the eldest child, he was forced to start working right after high school to help support his family. After lots of saving and working in casinos, he was able to put himself through college where he earned a degree in Graphics Design.

He shares, ‘As fate would have it, I later got a job opportunity in Juba, South Sudan as a graphics designer. Unfortunately, I was forced to come back to Kenya after chaos broke out in the country. Amidst my struggles to establish myself in Nairobi, I met a former high school friend who introduced me into the world of photography.’

Hezron now has a freelance photography business where he attends events throughout the country. In addition, on Sunday’s, he works at his local church where he takes photos after the service. He also works a variety of events from burials, weddings, and school graduations. In a single month he is able to earn about Kshs. 30,000 from his business which allows him to support his household, his daughter, and paying school fees for his younger sister.

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So far, Hezron has been able to raise 6 Zidisha funded loans with the help of lenders ranging from his first loan of $16 to his most recent of $2,445.

With his first $16 loan in January 2017, Hezron was ready to prepare for an upcoming event that he would be working. He used $6 of the loan to purchase photo papers and the remaining $10 to print some banners. He expected to make about $80 at the event. However, he would need to subtract his expenses of transport ($7), Revenue fee ($5), Assistant ($10), Photo Paper and Banners ($16). This meant that his total expenses added up to $37, leaving him with a final profit of $42. He shares, ‘This profit will enable me run my day to day household operations as well as support my daughter’s financial needs.’

A few months later, Hezron reached out to lenders for his second Zidisha funded loan, requesting, $338. Because he runs a photography business, Hezron really wanted to upgrade his camera to a good DSLR camera. He hoped to purchase the Canon D70 model and also wanted to buy a 32GB SDG card.

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By July 2017, Hezron was ready for his next Zidisha loan of $512. He shares, ‘I intend to open a new branch for my Mediart Business which is a printing business dealing with online services delivery, general printing, graphic design, photocopy services, stationery supplies etc. The branch will be located at race course road Nairobi. The loan will help me venture into new opportunities.’

As he continued to grow and expand in his business, Hezron was ready for another Zidisha funded loan. In September 2017, he requested $1,366 from lenders in order to purchase a digital printing machine. He knew that this would allow him to help diversify his offerings.

In April of 2018, he requested his next Zidisha funded loan of $1,747 and shared with lenders, ‘With printing and cyber business gaining a lot of relevance in the Kenyan market, I have gained a reliable customer base in the heart of Nairobi city. There is a need to process their jobs faster and more efficiently if I am to maintain them. With this in my mind I will need a digital printer Konica Minolta – Bizhub C280 and an extra Epson photo printer model T50 to process print jobs and photographs. The cost is broken down as follows, Purchasing digital printer, Konica Minolta Bizhub C280 $1750 and Purchasing an Epson Photo Printer model T50 $290, I will top up the money I receive from Zidisha with my savings to enable me to meet the purchasing cost.’

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Hezron felt that by purchasing these two printers he would be better able to meet the needs of his customers and also increase his profits. This would allow him to do less outsourcing than he had in the past.

Most recently, in November, Hezron raised his sixth Zidisha funded loan, for $2,445. At this point, Hezron is looking to better his workflow and use high quality products. As a result, with this loan, he planned to purchase a new camera, specifically the Nikon D850 full frame camera which would cost $1,600 and extra batteries, and a camera lens amounting to $700.

On November 28, Hezron wished to show his gratitude to his Zidisha lenders as he shared on his discussion page, ‘Hello my lenders, I take this chance to thank you for being with me this far, the sky is the limit for me. I have managed to acquire new machinery and more to maintain the running capital of my Photography and Printing Business ensuring that the business is smooth. I thank my lenders for believing in me.’

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Would you like to empower another entrepreneur like Hezron? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read the stories of our other inspiring business owners.

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