By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Mercy Githaiga describes herself as ‘a young Kenyan woman living in Nairobi with great ambitions, dreams and set goals.’
She has been operating her business since 2010 and since graduating from University in 2014, her income from her business is able to cover most of her rent and other expenses.
Mercy shares, ‘The income I have been getting has helped sustain me in campus by catering for pocket money, bills, and other basics. The need to earn and be independent drove me to start a business while still in school and at a young age. I use my income to cater to personal needs and also for buying products to sell to clients. With the current rate of unemployment even with higher-level education, engaging in businesses is the way to go to ensure we make a living.’
In describing her business Mercy writes, ‘The business involves the sale and supply of IT products and office supplies. I have actively engaged in the sale and supply of computer and computer accessories, cartridges, office stationery, and by order I sell laptops, tablets, power banks, printers, and other office consumables. I sell the products in retail for now due to a lack of enough funds. I share a stall/shop with a friend in the CBD to enhance the physical location of the business where new clients can be directed for consultation and other purposes.’
Like most business owners, Mercy dreamed of expanding her business and location over time. Fortunately, with loyal clients, good customer service, and prompt delivery, Mercy is doing everything that she can to set herself up for success.
In her time with Zidisha, Mercy has successfully raised five Zidisha funded loans. Starting with Zidisha in 2014, she raised $140 allowing her to purchase additional inventory to re-sell to clients. As she requested this first loan, she shared, ‘I have local suppliers who will provide the products for me at affordable rates thus enabling me to resell at competitive prices which will yield quick profits. The profits which I will get will help me repay this loan back in time and also help in investing back on buying more stock. With time I hope to acquire more stock and build a larger clientele base. My sort of business is preferred because people will always need consumables in their offices no matter what. With competitive prices, I am able to compete favorably with others in the same deal.’
Shortly thereafter, with her second loan of $470, Mercy found herself in a good position to increase her stock of stationary as she found that her clients were coming back to her looking to purchase larger and larger quantities.
In February 2015, Mercy returned to Zidisha lenders, requesting $700 as she described her upcoming loan, ‘Thank you dear lenders for funding my last 2 loans. The previous loans really brought me far. I am back again humbly requesting another loan. You have believed in my business and now am counting on your help to take it to the next level. I would like to purchase office stationery in bulk and sell it wholesale to other retailers. I will buy 100 reams of printing and photocopying paper.’
Like many business owners, Mercy and her business were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, she requested a loan for $620 and shared this update, ‘It has been a long time since I asked for a loan. With the Covid situation, my business took a huge hit and we had to close down the shop and start operating from home whenever orders come through. I am now working from home and I have recently got the idea of design, branding and printing to add to my usual consumables sales. I am requesting funds to enable me to pay for materials when I design for someone things like t-shirts, mugs, cards, banners, etc. With the help of my younger sister, we are able to design and the funds will assist us get branding material and also take the products for printing.’
Even in times of hardship, there are always possibilities and hidden opportunities. Like Mercy, we have to pivot and find new directions.
Would you like to make a difference in the life of an entrepreneur like Mercy? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what other inspiring Zidisha business owners are doing around the world.