05/17/2013 05:00 pm ET Updated Jul 17, 2013

"Ripple Effects" from Venture: A Collection of True Microfinance Stories

Venture is a rich and readable collection of true microfinance stories. It is written for anyone who would like to better understand the realities faced by the the aspiring middle class in the world's least developed countries, the range of factors that affect their prospects for working their way out of poverty, and how microfinance can impact their lives.

The entrepreneurs featured in this book are all members of Zidisha Microfinance, a web-based crowdfunding platform that allows low-income, computer-savvy entrepreneurs in developing countries to share their stories and negotiate microloans directly with individual lenders. As the world's first person-to-person lending service to eliminate intermediaries and connect individual web users and entrepreneurs across the international wealth divide, Zidisha is uniquely positioned to offer an undistorted depiction of the variety of individual stories and circumstances that come to play each time a microfinance loan is disbursed.

Each story paints an unforgettable picture: A 70-year-old goat farmer who relocates his home to better care for his ailing father, carrying the sticks and metal sheeting it was made from across the mountains on his back. A plump, beaming detergent saleslady who lives in a home no larger than an ordinary bathroom but has adopted five orphans. A cancer survivor who supports herself and two children by pounding millet for $1.58 per day. An irrepressible lady who supplies half of her neighborhood with much-needed IVs and other medical supplies by day, and by night checks into the local cybercafe to chat with Facebook friends on the other side of the world. A young man who has no arms but insists on working to support his able-bodied parents out of filial duty. An accounting student who pays for his university tuition by purchasing a taxi and splitting proceeds with a hired driver. A bright young lady who renounces college to care for her orphaned siblings and overcomes gender stereotypes to launch a thriving construction business.

At its heart, "Venture" is a tribute to the remarkable community of Zidisha Microfinance entrepreneurs and countless others like them -- a tribute to their grit, ambition and indomitable spirit in the face of overwhelming obstacles. We hope this book will help translate the statistics about poverty and the opportunities afforded by microfinance into human terms, and inspire readers to reach out and connect with their counterparts on the other side of the international wealth divide.

Story 32: Ripple Effects

Eunice Ngetha was part of a Self Help Group in Embakasi, Kenya that taught its members to make detergents and disinfectants. Eunice later started her own business of making these and selling at prices lower than the market. The detergents and disinfectants Eunice makes are used by hospitals and schools to wash floors, clothes, utensils and lavatories.

The chemicals Eunice uses are dangerous to store, so she buys them only after she has received an order. And she receives many of them. She said to me, "Even if I go to America I'll find an order!" I have no doubt she will because Eunice is one of the most confident people I have met here.

Eunice told me about an incident which confirmed to me that she is a great marketer. To transport drums of detergents to faraway places, she loads them in public buses and the customer unloads them at his location. She once lost over $300 worth of detergents when the customer told her he never received it. Instead of disputing the claim, she replaced his order free of charge. And now she has very good relations with this customer.

Eunice found Zidisha on her own. Her earlier loans were very costly so when she needed capital for her business she "googled" it and found Zidisha. When I met her she had not yet received the disbursement of her loan of $995, but she planned to use it to buy chemicals for a big airport contract she had recently gotten.

Her husband is the principal of a school where Eunice also used to work as a matron. She left that job and shifted to Nairobi when the business picked up.

Eunice lives in a home no larger than an American bathroom. She has three children of her own, two of whom are in school. She has also adopted five children. Three of these are orphans from her home village, and the other two are bright students from a school she went to sell her products to. The principal told her that these students couldn't afford their school fees, and Eunice readily decided to sponsor them. This is one trait I have found common in many Kenyans, this incredible desire to share their wealth.

Eunice's dream is to build a school. She told me that she has already bought three hectares of land in the outskirts of Nairobi for this. With her energy and her desire to help others, I expect great things from Eunice.

Eunice's Words:

I take this opportunity to thank you for changing my life and my entire family.
Through this loan I was able to expand my business just as intended. I am also able to help ten young children below 10 years by feeding and clothing them for their parents had passed away due to H.I.V. AIDS. I am also intending to use part of my profit to take them to school.
May God bless you.

You may view more comments and photos at Eunice's Zidisha Microfinance profile page.

From Chapter 32 of Venture: A Collection of True Microfinance Stories by Zidisha Microfinance.

Next time:An interesting hobby and some self-education become the foundation for a lucrative new career: raising rabbits...