General FAQs

What does "Zidisha" mean?

"Zidisha" is the Swahili word for "grow" or "expand", as in a business or a quality such as freedom or prosperity.

How does Zidisha compare to other microfinancing websites?

Zidisha is the first online microlending community that directly connects lenders and entrepreneurs — without any intermediaries. Unlike more mainstream microloan websites that use local intermediary organizations, Zidisha offers a direct person-to-person lending platform.

Why is direct better? Because loans managed by local intermediary organizations charge high interest rates (often above 40%) to the entrepreneurs to cover their own administrative costs.

Zidisha loans are interest-free, with borrowers making a payment into a reserve fund when they first join to protect lenders from credit risk. We also give lenders and entrepreneurs the opportunity to communicate with each other directly — so you can see everyone’s stories unfold right before your eyes and experience it with them from the other side of the world.

Why do entrepreneurs choose Zidisha?

Zidisha entrepreneurs are located in low-income countries where small business loans are often unavailable, or carry expensive interest rates along with collateral requirements. Zidisha offers an easy, accessible alternative that allows the entrepreneurs to get business expansion loans on flexible terms and at a cost they can easily afford. The low cost allows entrepreneurs to keep a majority of their profits and use them to invest back into their businesses or to support their families.

Why do lenders choose Zidisha?

Zidisha's direct person-to-person connection results in far lower cost for the entrepreneurs, and a more transparent and interesting experience for lenders. Our first-of-its-kind direct lending platform ensures that the profits go to the entrepreneurs (no cut of it goes to a bank or other intermediary). And the direct dialogue that takes place every day between lenders and entrepreneurs in our community maximizes transparency - and even builds friendships.

How is Zidisha able to work without local intermediaries?

Zidisha itself controls each individual loan disbursement and repayment collection via the internet, so that management of Zidisha funds does not need to be outsourced to intermediary parties. Loan applications and progress updates are posted on the website by the entrepreneurs themselves. This allows our lending service to be provided independently of local intermediaries.

Does Zidisha have offices or staff in entrepreneurs' countries?

No. Zidisha does not keep any office or employ any paid staff in entrepreneur countries. Instead, we keep the cost of microlending low by providing all of our services over the internet. However, we are lucky to have experienced entrepreneurs that serve as Volunteer Mentors and monitor and assist fellow entrepreneurs on a volunteer basis — as well as international interns that can also visit entrepreneurs.

How does Zidisha find loan applicants?

Entrepreneurs find us! Anyone who lives in a country serviced by Zidisha may apply to raise a loan — and potential entrepreneurs themselves take the initiative to apply. The majority of Zidisha applicants find us by word of mouth, as current members recommend Zidisha to others in their communities. Entrepreneurs also find us through web searches, blogs, or Facebook posts.

What background information do you collect from Zidisha entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs who apply to join Zidisha must provide their precise residential address, telephone number, and national identity number before we allow them to post a loan application. We also require them to verify their online identity by linking an active personal Facebook account to their Zidisha account. Applicants must also provide personal references and the contact information for a local community leader (like a school principal or leader of a place of worship) who can provide a recommendation for them. The local banks and payment services that process Zidisha loan disbursements also check the loan recipients’ national identity cards.

Does Zidisha assess the credit-worthiness of entrepreneurs?

No. Zidisha is not a bank or credit bureau, does not offer any guarantee of the accuracy of information presented by entrepreneurs, and does not conduct any assessment of the incomes, debt levels, or credit-worthiness of entrepreneurs. It is up to the lenders to determine if a proposed business venture is viable and worthy of being funded.

What is the total cost to the entrepreneur?

Zidisha loans do not carry interest. The total cost for each loan is a service fee of 5% of the loan amount, to cover the cost of transferring and administering the loan.

Members also have the option of increasing their credit limits more quickly than the standard progression by making a payment into the Zidisha Members Loan Fund, which is used for reimbursing lenders in the event of default.

Is Zidisha an investment broker?

No. Zidisha is a low-cost nonprofit community (managed by volunteers). Our organization is responsible only for maintaining the Zidisha website as a platform for the transactions that take place between its members. Accordingly, we do not make any representation or promise that lenders will recover their funds and we do not offer a financial return on the loans.

How are funds transferred between Zidisha and the entrepreneurs?

In Kenya, loan disbursement and repayment transactions are conducted via M-PESA, a money transfer service that allows Kenyans to receive and send cash via mobile phone messaging. In Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, funds are transferred via a similar mobile phone payment service called MTN Mobile Money. In Indonesia, funds are transferred through the Indosat Dompetku mobile payment service. In other countries, loans are disbursed via electronic payment order from a local currency bank account, and entrepreneurs deposit cash repayments to the same checking account at the branch located nearest them.

How does Zidisha fund its operating costs?

Zidisha is a nonprofit organization. That means we rely on voluntary contributions and super-generous donations from our lenders and supporters to help cover operating expenses, like web hosting, bank fees, telephone costs, regulatory fees, and the ongoing development of our web platform.

Entrepreneurs pay a 5% service fee on each loan they take out through Zidisha in order to cover the money transfer costs incurred as a result of their loan. Entrepreneurs also pay a one-time new member registration fee upon successfully raising their first Zidisha loan.

We don’t charge any service fee to lenders. But, we do ask that those who participate contribute what they can to support our growth. (And we’re incredibly thankful when they do!)

What is the role of Zidisha volunteers and interns?

Volunteers and interns conduct most of Zidisha's day-to-day operations—including application review, loan payment processing, data entry, email support and accounting. Our volunteer staff includes part-time volunteers who work remotely with us from their home locations worldwide, and full-time volunteers who travel to countries where Zidisha has lending programs and work directly with entrepreneurs.

Do Zidisha entrepreneurs really interact with lenders directly?

Yes! Lenders and entrepreneurs can message each other back and forth to send updates about the impact of the loan or even simple notes of thanks or inspiration. Lenders can be sure that everything they see posted in an entrepreneur's name — whether it be on profile pages, loan applications, or entrepreneur comments — is written directly by that entrepreneur, or occasionally by a local friend or family member who may assist the entrepreneur in posting content onto the website. Although Zidisha volunteers may provide English translations of entrepreneur postings and edit titles for clarity, we do not otherwise modify entrepreneurs' content or write it on their behalf.

Are lenders or entrepreneurs exposed to a risk of fluctuating currency values?

Lenders assume currency risk at Zidisha. The loan amounts that entrepreneurs are obligated to repay are fixed in local currency upon disbursement. Exchange rates can fluctuate during the course of the repayment period, causing the US Dollar value of the loans to increase or decrease — leading to gains or losses in US Dollar terms for lenders. Zidisha does not provide protection against currency risk, but also does not restrict lenders' ability to gain when the US Dollar increases in value against local currencies.

Tip: Since exchange rate fluctuations often go both ways for multiple currencies during the same time period, we suggest spreading lending activity across multiple countries to help hedge against currency risk.

How are loan transaction values converted between US Dollars and the entrepreneur's local currency?

The exchange rates applied to all Zidisha transactions are the exchange rates that were applied to our most recent transfer of US dollars to each borrower country. Here’s a breakdown of how conversion rates work throughout the life of a Zidisha loan:

  • When entrepreneurs create a loan application: the local currency amounts they request are converted to US Dollars, and the loan amount remains fixed at that US Dollar value throughout the fundraising period until the loan is disbursed.
  • At the time of disbursement: the precise US Dollar amount raised is converted back into local currency at the exchange rate in effect on the date of disbursement, to ensure that 100% of the funds received from lenders go to the loans.
  • At disbursement: loan amounts are fixed in local currency, so that entrepreneurs' repayment obligations are not affected by exchange rate fluctuations.
  • Each time an entrepreneur makes a repayment: the amount received in local currency is converted to US Dollars at the exchange rate in effect at the time the repayment is received. The resulting US Dollar value of the repayment is then credited to the lenders who funded the loan.

In which countries does Zidisha offer loans?

We currently offer loans to residents of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Senegal and Zambia.

How does Zidisha protect the rights of its clients?

We have adopted the following Code of Ethics, to which everyone who works with Zidisha must adhere.

1. We will treat every applicant and client with courtesy and respect, and will serve them as timely and conveniently as possible. We will provide every client with a channel of communications through which they can give feedback on service quality, and will do our utmost to respond timely and effectively to any client complaints.

2. We will provide all applicants and clients with complete and understandable information regarding the cost of our loans and terms of repayment.

3. We will do our utmost to avoid causing over-indebtedness by doing our best to ensure that those who raise loans through our platform do not hold other debt, by limiting loan amounts based on past repayment history, and by verifying proposed repayment schedules with clients before their loan applications are posted for funding.

4. We will do our utmost to ensure that the business endeavors financed with our loans do not become a vehicle for child labor, or any other abusive or illegal practice.

5. We will strive to prevent abuse of our lending platform through energetic pursuit of willful defaulters. At the same time, we will treat all clients regardless of repayment status with courtesy and respect, and will not deprive them of their basic means of livelihood in order to repay a loan. Acceptable repayment collection practices include reminders, mediation involving local community leaders, and judicial process. Unacceptable repayment collection practices include abusive language, threats, harassment of entrepreneurs at their place of work or worship, forcible entry to homes, and seizing property without court order or in violation of the law.

6. We will protect client information from those not legally authorized to see it.

7. We will price our services at fair rates, with fees set at levels just sufficient to ensure the sustainability and growth of our organization. As a nonprofit organization, all revenue will be used to finance our lending program operations and to invest in their further development.

8. We will avoid conflicts of interest by recusing ourselves of any involvement in organizational decisions that may result in personal benefits to ourselves or to our family members.

9. We will not accept payment or gifts of substantial value from applicants or clients.

10. Should a violation of any of these principles come to our attention, we will notify Zidisha management immediately. Management will ensure that violators of our Code of Ethics are sanctioned.


Lending FAQs

How does the loan funding process work?

When an entrepreneur posts a loan application, he or she sets the amount he or she would like to raise, the weekly or monthly repayment installment amount he or she prefers, and the day of the week or month he or she would like to commit to making repayment installments. Lenders can then fund any portion of the loan, between $1 and the full amount requested.

When a loan application is fully funded, the entrepreneur must confirm his or her acceptance of the loan. Once that’s done, we disburse the loan to the entrepreneur in local currency.

What are the minimum and maximum amounts I can lend?

The minimum amount per loan is one US Dollar, and the maximum is the full amount requested by the applicant.

What happens if a loan application is not fully funded by the expiration date?

If a loan is not fully funded by the expiration date, then funds that had been contributed are returned to the lenders, and the applicant may start over with a new loan proposal.

How do lenders deposit funds to their Zidisha accounts?

Lenders worldwide may credit their accounts instantly using a PayPal account, or with a credit or debit card via Stripe, a secure third-party payment service. There is a 3.5% fee for both of these payment methods, which matches the average transaction fees deducted by PayPal and Stripe.

We also offer the option to set up automated monthly transfers to lending accounts (via Stripe). Unlike one-time payments, monthly plans carry no transaction fee. They can be adjusted or canceled at any time.

How do lenders withdraw funds from their Zidisha accounts?

Lenders with withdrawable lending accounts may request to withdraw any funds that are not outstanding with entrepreneurs at any time. Withdrawals are sent via PayPal.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Zidisha offers no warranty or promise to make cash payouts to lenders. Please see our Terms of Use for more information.

Is Zidisha a safe place to store my savings?

No. Zidisha is a platform for philanthropy, not a replacement for traditional savings accounts or financial investments. Zidisha loans are highly risky, as direct person-to-person lending across international borders is such a new thing. Repayment likelihood cannot be predicted with accuracy, so Zidisha is not a safe way to store funds you cannot afford to lose. We recommend that you treat Zidisha loans simply as a way to help others, and that you lend no more than you would normally be prepared to give away to charity.

How likely is it that my loan will be repaid?

Thus far, the majority of Zidisha loans have been repaid. That said, we cannot predict the repayment likelihood of Zidisha loans with certainty. Lending to low-income individuals in developing countries is inherently risky. Most Zidisha entrepreneurs do not have salaried employment, substantial savings, insurance or other safety nets, and illness or family emergencies can often make it difficult to repay loans as planned. For these reasons, we recommend spreading lending funds across multiple loans, and as always, do not lend out funds that you cannot afford to lose.

How does the Zidisha Members Loan Fund work?

Loans posted after March 1, 2015 are covered by a default reimbursement plan, which is backed by the Zidisha Members Loan Fund into which new entrepreneurs make a payment at the time they join Zidisha. If a loan that is backed by the Zidisha Members Loan Fund falls past due on scheduled repayments (by over 10 days, and $5 or the value of one repayment installment, whichever is less), a "Receive Early Repayment" option will display in lenders' Your Loans page, as long as: 1) funds are available in the Zidisha Members Loan Fund account and 2) the lender has received less than $1,000 in Zidisha Members Loan Fund payments (unless the lender's account is an Impact Investment or donation lending account). This option, when selected, will transfer that lender's portion of the loan to the Zidisha Members Loan Fund account. In return, the lender will receive back the full amount he or she had contributed to the loan, minus any repayments already received.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: In order to keep costs low for entrepreneurs, we do not collect enough Members Loan Fund payments to match the entire value of loans outstanding. Instead, we collect enough to fulfill expected withdrawals from the Members Loan Fund, based on past trends. Although we expect that the amount collected will be sufficient for all early repayment requests, we cannot guarantee it. The Members Loan Fund is intended simply as an aid to help lenders preserve the value of their lending funds over time, and is not a guarantee of repayment. For this reason, the funds you lend at Zidisha are still subject to loss. As always, we recommend you treat lending as a philanthropic activity only, and never lend out funds that you cannot afford to lose.

Does Zidisha guarantee repayment of loans?

No, Zidisha does not guarantee repayment of loans. We offer a simple default reimbursement service to help lenders preserve their lending funds, but we are not a financial institution and cannot guarantee that the reimbursement service will always have sufficient funds to cover loan losses in the future. Lenders fund loans at their own risk and out of the goodness of their hearts, with the understanding that repayment is not guaranteed. So we suggest that you treat lending through Zidisha a philanthropic activity — and as always, don’t lend out any funds that you cannot afford to lose.

The entrepreneur I supported is not responding to comments. How can I get an update?

Keep in mind that most entrepreneurs do not have home computers, and may be away from the internet for extended periods. If you are having difficulty communicating with an entrepreneur directly, we recommend posting a message on the profile page of the Volunteer Mentor or the inviting member listed in the entrepreneur's loan profile to request an update.

What happens when an entrepreneur repays?

Each time Zidisha receives a repayment installment from an entrepreneur, your share of the amount received is credited to your lending account. You can then use the credit to finance new loans, or request a withdrawal of all or part of your balance (if you have a withdrawable lending account).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Zidisha offers no warranty or promise to make cash payouts to lenders. Please see our Terms of Use for more information.

How is my share of loan repayments determined?

Your share of each loan repayment is equal to the percentage of the loan you financed. Please note: Since loan amounts are fixed in local currency, the exact dollar value of each repayment will depend on the current exchange rate when the repayment installment is made.

When an entrepreneur makes a repayment installment, how is the dollar value of my share calculated?

At the time of disbursement, the value of loan is fixed in local currency using the exchange rate in effect as of the date the loan is disbursed. When an entrepreneur makes a repayment, it is converted to US Dollars at the exchange rate in effect as of the date the repayment is received. The US Dollar value of each repayment is divided among the lenders who funded the loan, according to the percentage funded by each.

Why are so many of my repayments made early or late, or in greater or lesser amounts than originally scheduled?

Most Zidisha entrepreneurs do not have salaried jobs, insurance, or substantial savings. Unfortunately, accidents, illness, and death happen much more frequently in developing countries than in wealthy countries. As a result, most Zidisha entrepreneurs’ incomes are erratic and vulnerable. At Zidisha, we try to be accommodating by allowing entrepreneurs to modify their scheduled repayments as necessary to adjust for fluctuations in their disposable income. Giving them the option to pay more when income is strong and steady—and less when money is scarce—gives entrepreneurs a buffer against financial shocks, and helps ensure that the loans do not take away from their basic livelihood.

Why do many entrepreneurs have multiple business activities, or change their business activities frequently?

Small business owners in developing countries can’t afford to take as much risk as entrepreneurs in wealthy countries. That’s because they don’t have the same social “safety nets” that can keep them from losing their households and basic resources.

So small business owners often protect their households from this risk by maintaining multiple revenue-generating activities at the same time, or by switching quickly from one activity to another in response to changes in the market or other circumstances. For this reason, it is common for Zidisha entrepreneurs to apply for and invest loans in more than one business — and to raise loans totally unrelated to their previous loans if needed.

What happens if an entrepreneur fails to repay?

We do our best to prevent repayment problems in the first place by making sure that credit amounts are commensurate with entrepreneurs' demonstrated credit-worthiness. Their track record of successful repayment qualifies them for access to increasing loan amounts.

However, entrepreneurs may experience disruptions in income due to unexpected circumstances, resulting in inability to make a loan repayment installment on the date it is due. When an entrepreneur misses a payment, we issue a courtesy reminder by email and text message to the entrepreneur's mobile phone within one week of the missed payment's due date. We do our best to get in touch with the entrepreneur, understand the circumstances that caused the missed payment, and agree to a reasonable repayment plan. If needed, we may request mediation from local contacts of the entrepreneur, such as the community leader who recommended the entrepreneur to Zidisha, family, or neighbors. As a last resort, we may opt to pursue legal action following local regulations in each country.

Zidisha adheres to the Smart Campaign's Client Protection Principles for fair and respectful recovery practices. Our repayment recovery methods include reminders, mediation involving the local community leaders and other contacts that referred entrepreneurs to Zidisha, and judicial process. We will never engage in harassment, abusive language, threats, or seizure of property without court order. We will also not deprive entrepreneurs of their basic means of livelihood in order to repay a loan.

What happens when loan repayment installment amounts are modified?

Entrepreneurs may modify their installment amounts if unexpected expenses or loss of income prevent them from repaying as quickly as originally anticipated - or if they find they are able to repay more quickly than originally anticipated. Entrepreneurs may either reduce or increase installment amounts, but the installments may not be skipped entirely, and at least one repayment must be deposited between each installment amount modification.

What happens to the lending credit in my account if I do not come back to relend or withdraw it?

First, we recommend setting up continuous relending of your repayments (via the Relending Preferences page) if you expect to be away for long. You can more than double the impact of your funds by continuously recycling repayments into new loans!

If you do not relend or withdraw your repayments within 60 days, we will relend them to new projects on your behalf, following any preferences you have indicated in the Relending Preferences page. (If you would like to undo the loans we made on your behalf and receive a refund, just email [email protected] and let us know.)

Will my email, address or other personal details be disclosed to entrepreneurs?

No. Only your display name, city and country, and photo (if you upload one) will be visible to the public, and no information not publicly displayed will be communicated to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs may communicate with lenders only via the discussion section on each loan profile page.

Are the amounts I lend through Zidisha tax-deductible?

If you have opened a donation lending account (by selecting the Impact Investment account or donation account option in the Account Preferences page) then all lending funds you pay into the account are tax-deductible charitable donations in the United States. If your account is a withdrawable account, then we do not recommend treating loan amounts as tax-deductible donations, because you might ultimately get those funds back if you withdraw the repayments from your account.

However, donations made to Zidisha's operating costs are tax-deductible in the United States.

How do Impact Investment accounts work?

Impact Investment lending accounts work like regular withdrawable lending accounts, with these differences:

  • Lending funds paid into the account are tax-deductible as charitable donations in the United States.
  • You cannot withdraw funds from the account.
  • A portion of the 5% service fee paid by all Zidisha borrowers is credited to Impact Investment accounts, so their value can grow over time.
  • Impact Investment accounts include a Lending Fund Value page, which tracks changes in the value of the fund and its outstanding loan portfolio.

To convert your account to an Impact Investment account, select the Impact Investment account option in your Account Preferences page.


Borrowing FAQs

Who is eligible to apply for loans?

Zidisha loan applicants must fulfill the following eligibility criteria:

1. Be of good reputation and have the support of family, neighbors and a local community leader (such as a school principal or leader of a place of worship).

2. Not currently hold any debt or outstanding loans from other sources.

3. Have an active business or employment with sufficient income to ensure repayment of the loan in regular installments.

4. Have access to the Internet or a smartphone with the Zidisha app installed, and be able to fill out entrepreneur profile and application forms and respond to lender comments via the app or our website.

5. Be able and committed to posting frequent updates regarding use of the loan and progress of the business on the Zidisha website.

6. Reside in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Senegal and Zambia.

For which purposes may I take out a Zidisha loan?

You may take out a loan for any purpose, as long as the purpose is legal and ethical. Zidisha members have raised loans for business growth capital, professional tools, university tuition, home improvements, health care and more. If your loan will not be used for a revenue-generating investment, you should explain the source of income that will be used to make repayments in your loan application.

How are the loans financed?

Zidisha loans are not financed by a bank or other organization. Instead, ordinary people from around the world visit the Zidisha website and choose loans to fund. When entrepreneurs repay the loans, repayments are sent to the individual lenders who financed the loans, and the repayments may then be reinvested in other Zidisha loans.

Why do lenders choose to fund loans for small business owners in other countries?

Lenders choose to fund loans for various reasons. Most often, lenders wish to help entrepreneurs succeed in growing their businesses. Through Zidisha, lenders get the chance to hear directly from the entrepreneur about how their loan funds have helped. They also get the opportunity to make a friend on the other side of the world and learn about daily life and culture in that country.

How much can I borrow?

Before taking out a large loan, you must first build creditworthiness by repaying a small test loan over a period of time. After that, the amounts you can borrow will increase with each loan that you repay on time, up to a maximum of $10,000.00 per loan.

How long will it take for me to receive my loan?

Loans normally take up to two weeks to be funded by lenders. After that, it may take an additional week for your loan to be disbursed due to the need to transfer funds internationally. As we are not able to guarantee immediate funding and disbursement, we do not recommend using Zidisha for time-sensitive emergency loans.

What are the fees and interest?

Zidisha loans do not carry interest. The total cost for each loan is a service fee of 5% of the loan amount, to cover the cost of transferring and administering the loan.

Members also have the option of increasing their credit limits more quickly than the standard progression by making a payment into the Zidisha Members Loan Fund, which is used for reimbursing lenders in the event of default.

Why does Zidisha deduct a Members Loan Fund payment from first loan disbursements?

If a new member starts with the smallest credit limit, there is no deduction at all. If a first-time borrower opts to start with a larger credit limit, they must pay the difference between the smallest credit limit and the larger credit limit into the Members Loan Fund, which is used to reimburse lenders in the event of default.

The repayment of the first loan allows us to know whether a new member can be trusted with a large loan. If they take and repay the smallest amount, then they have proven trustworthiness with a loan of that amount. If they take and repay a larger amount (with larger deduction), they have proven trustworthiness with a larger loan and the second loan will be larger (based on the larger starting credit limit).

Our goal is always to enable as many trustworthy people as possible to raise as much as they usefully can. The Members Loan Fund helps ensure that our lending program is financially sustainable, so that our members can continue to raise loans over the long term.

Is the Members Loan Fund a savings service?

No. Zidisha is not a bank and does not offer a savings service. Though we may refund Members Loan Fund payments upon request, refunds are subject to the availability of funds and are not guaranteed. In order to keep costs low for our members, we do not collect enough Members Loan Fund payments to match the entire value of loans outstanding. Instead, we collect enough to fulfill expected withdrawals from the Members Loan Fund, based on past trends. Although we expect that the amount collected will be sufficient for refund requests, we cannot guarantee it. For this reason, we recommend choosing only Members Loan Fund amounts that you can afford to pay as a permanent cost of your line of credit with Zidisha.

How do I request a refund of my Members Loan Fund payment?

You must first repay in full any loans you have taken out with Zidisha. Then, create a support ticket from the Help page of your account to request a refund. (Please note that refunds are subject to the availability of funds, and are not guaranteed.) If you receive a refund of your Members Loan Fund payment, then you will be asked to make a new Members Loan Fund payment before taking out another loan, in the amount currently paid by new Zidisha members.

Can I use the Members Loan Fund payment I made to repay the balance of my loan?

Yes. If this is your first loan, you must first repay the net cash amount that was disbursed for your loan (the loan principal amount, minus any deductions). If this is not your first loan, you must first repay the loan amount not covered by your Members Loan Fund payment (the loan principal, minus the amount of your Members Loan Fund payment). Once the repayment has been credited, use the Cancel button in your account dashboard to clear the remaining balance. Please note that if you use your Members Loan Fund payment to clear your loan balance, then you will be asked to make a new Members Loan Fund payment before taking out another loan, in the amount currently paid by new Zidisha members.

What are the terms of repayment?

Repayments are made in weekly or monthly installments, depending on your country. You may choose your own preferred amount to repay in each installment, and your own preferred day of the week or month on which repayments will fall due.

How do I transfer loan repayments to Zidisha?

You are responsible for initiating loan repayment transfers using the mobile phone or bank payment service Zidisha has adopted in your country. You may view Zidisha's account number and payment instructions in the Repayment Schedule page of your Zidisha account.

How do I know my repayment is received?

Repayments received are posted on your loan profile page within three business days. If you sent a payment and it is not posted on your profile within three business days, please create a support ticket and include your payment amount, date and transaction ID number so that we may locate it.

How is my on-time repayment score calculated?

Your on-time repayment score is the percentage of all weekly installments that have fallen due for all loans you have taken with Zidisha, which you paid on time.

What should I do if I cannot make a scheduled repayment installment?

If you cannot pay the full amount due on the scheduled date, you must modify your installment in order to remain in good standing and avoid penalties. To do this, log in to your Zidisha account and use the Adjust Installment Amount page to propose a repayment amount that you can afford. You may reduce the amount due as necessary, but you cannot skip a scheduled installment entirely. Adjusting your installment will not affect your on-time repayment score as long as you honor the new repayment schedule. You may use the same page to increase installment amounts once you are able, so that the total repayment period is not increased any more than necessary.

Can I repay my loan early?

Yes, you may repay your loan at any time. However, please note that there is a minimum amount of time loans must be held in order to qualify for a larger credit limit. If you repay your loan before the minimum length of time has passed, your credit limit will not increase. You may view the minimum amount of time for your loan in the Current Credit page of your account.

In addition, please note that a minimum time period must have passed since disbursement of your first loan before you may raise a new loan. The minimum time period depends on the amount of your first loan, and is displayed in the Current Credit Limit page of your account.

What are the consequences if I repay late or default on my repayment?

Late repayments damage lenders and other entrepreneurs, because they are deprived of funds that could be lent to other deserving entrepreneurs if they were repaid when due. Late repayments also damage your reputation and ability to earn confidence from lenders, who had trusted your commitment to make loan repayments on or before the date promised. This damaged trust may make it harder for you to fund new loans through Zidisha in the future.

You are responsible for managing your finances in a way that ensures you will be able to pay loan installments in full on the dates they are due. If unexpected circumstances make it impossible to deposit a payment in full when it is due, it is your responsibility to use the Adjust Installment Amount page in your Zidisha account to adjust the installment to an amount you can afford.

If you miss a scheduled payment, Zidisha will issue one courtesy reminder by text message to your mobile phone. If the payment still is not made, Zidisha will request mediation from members of your community. If mediation is not effective, Zidisha may determine that the loan is defaulted. The consequences of defaulting on a Zidisha loan include disqualification from funding any new loans in the future, reporting of the default to local credit bureaux and organizations that lend in your area, and legal prosecution resulting in confiscation of property, fines and other legal penalties.

What happens when I repay my loan according to the agreed schedule?

Once your loan is fully repaid, you will be eligible to post a new loan application for funding on the Zidisha website. If lenders' experience is positive, they will likely be engaged and willing to lend to you again to support growth of your business. In this case you will likely find it possible to fund a larger loan easily in the future.

How is my performance recorded?

The on-time repayment rate of all installments that have been due is displayed in your loan profile page, and prospective lenders use this as a basis for evaluating any loan applications that you post.

In addition, all lenders who participated in funding the loan are invited to post a “feedback rating” on their lending experience to the Zidisha website. The feedback rating can be either Positive, Neutral, or Negative. Each entrepreneur's profile displays his or her feedback rating as two numbers: the first is the percentage of all feedback ratings that are positive, and the second is the total number of feedback ratings given so far. For example, an entrepreneur that has received 18 positive scores out of 20 total feedback ratings would display the score 90% positive (20). This allows lenders to assign higher levels of trust to individuals who have already established an extensive history of similar transactions (as demonstrated by the high total number of feedback ratings), with a consistently high degree of customer satisfaction (as demonstrated by the high percentage of positive feedback ratings).

Zidisha lenders generally assign positive feedback ratings to entrepreneurs who repay loans on time, and also engage lenders by posting frequent, interesting messages and business updates on the Zidisha website.

How do I communicate with lenders?

Each loan profile contains a discussion page, in which the entrepreneur as well as registered Zidisha lenders may post text messages and photos. Entrepreneurs and lenders may use this forum to ask and respond to questions, share information and news about the progress of the business and get to know one another. Lenders highly value the chance to communicate directly with entrepreneurs whose loans they have funded or are considering funding, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to post comments in the forum as often as possible.

What is a Volunteer Mentor?

A Volunteer Mentor is an experienced Zidisha member in good standing who volunteers his or her time to assist other members to interact with the Zidisha website and community. Volunteer Mentors receive credit limit increases commensurate with the repayment performance of the members who are assigned to them, but are not otherwise compensated for their services.

What should I do if somebody claiming to represent Zidisha asks me for money?

Zidisha does not authorize any person to collect money on its behalf. All payments to Zidisha should be deposited directly into the account listed in the Repayment Instructions page of your Zidisha member account.

If any person claims to be collecting payments on behalf of Zidisha, do not give it to them. Instead, please send an email with that person's name and telephone number (if known) to us at [email protected] or by creating a support ticket. We will work with you to report the fraud to the local police.

I know someone who would like a Zidisha loan, but does not use the internet. Can I post an application on his or her behalf?

We request that you do not invite or help non internet users to join Zidisha, because we have learned with experience that it is very hard for individuals who do not personally use our website to thoroughly understand and participate successfully in our community over the long term.

Why doesn't Zidisha have a physical office in my country?

The costs associated with physical offices are one of the main sources of expense for traditional banks. Providing our services over the internet only allows us to eliminate this cost, making the loans more affordable for our members.

Whom should I contact with questions or concerns?

You may contact the Volunteer Mentor whose phone number is displayed in your Zidisha account. You may also post questions and comments in our Member Forum to request a response from the Zidisha community.