Meet Sandra, Zambia's Most Successful Kiva Borrower & Mobile Transactions Agent

“I just want to be a successful business woman,” Sandra says when asked what she hopes to achieve in the next 2-3 years.

She already is. In fact, she is the most successful agent working with Zoona--a mobile money/transactions company that allows individuals to send and receive money over their phones using the conversion of cash into electronic value, and electronic value back into cash. Zoona relies on a distrubuted network of agents, like Sandra, who operate businesses that provide the cash in/out capability.

Sandra opened her first mobile transactions shop in 2010 and now has expanded to four! She is dominating the market in Kitwe, the second largest city in Zambia and the mining center of the Copperbelt Province. And she's only 26.

Zoona staff say it’s her attitude that puts her above the rest. She would open her first shop at 7am while others opened at 8am. And despite her success, she's never given herself a raise! She puts all of the profits back into the business in order to expand.

Shop #1: located in a shopping center in central Kitwe. Note the air conditioner that she recently added with her profits.

Sandra received her first Kiva loan in February 2012 and her second one this month. The first loan grew her business 100%.

Sandra used the first Kiva loan to increase her float--the cash and electronic value needed to conduct a mobile transactions business. In order for her business to grow, a larger float was necessary so she'd have enough cash to serve customers and meet their needs to send larger amounts of money.

Shop #2: strategically located next to the bustling Chisokone market

When asked how the Kiva loan helped her business, Sandra says, "It increased my float so I was able to serve a lot of customers, and previously before then we used to send customers away because we didn’t have enough capital, so it really helped."

The view from Sandra's shop over Chisokone, the oldest and largest market in Kitwe.

The loan increased her profits, which enabled her to improve her standard of living and give raises to her three employees at the time.

She was able to move out of her parent's house, save for her wedding, and provide for her 9 month old son. Sandra also started studying Banking and Finance at Copperbelt University last year and plans to buy a car soon.

Shop #3: located in the Mbizi House mini-bus station

Between her first and second Kiva loan, Sandra opened up two more shops. She is using the second loan to finance her 4th and newest shop, which opened two months ago.

Sandra believes her business has been successful because she treats her employees right by giving them targets every month and incentives on top of their monthly salaries. She says running a business is not easy, but if you treat people right they will take ownership and do their jobs well.

Shop #4: located in Kitwe's main bus station and staffed by Precious

Her newest employee, Precious, was a regular customer at one of Sandra’s other shops and inquired about employment. When Sandra eventually opened her 4th shop, she remembered Precious and offered her a job--her first!

Tellers Dennis, Chiwamba, and Martha at Shop #1

By providing a loan to Sandra, Kiva lenders have helped not only Sandra, but also her employees. She now has 7 tellers! Most couldn't find work before Sandra hired them.

Tellers Gabriel and Doreen at Shop #2

What are some of the things you’ve managed to do from the time you got your first Kiva loan?

“Apart from attending to a lot of customers, the business has really grown. I’ve been able to take myself to school. I’m also able to support my family. And then, did I mention that I’ve been able to open a shop as well? Then my tellers have been able to have their salary and then they also get a bonus. So it has really helped.”

Constance at Shop #3

How many more shops do you want to open?

“Even three, but right now I just want to concentrate on these four. Make sure that they’re profitable and see what can be done.”

Zoona customer sending money via mobile phone

What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

“I’m really hoping to really grow…diversify into other kinds of businesses. That’s what I’m thinking of right now. So apart from Zoona, I’m also hoping to do something else.”


What would you like to say to the Kiva lenders?

“First of all, I really appreciate the work that they’re doing. I’d say thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to be one of those that have been sponsored using the funds. Then secondly, I would love to say they should continue with the work that they’re doing because it’s really helping people.”

Thank you Kiva lenders!

For more information on the partnership between Kiva and Zoona, click here.

Check back next week for blogs on Zoona's Kiva Coordinator and Zoona's new loan product!

About the author

Michelle Schenck

As Portfolio Manager for Anglophone Africa, Michelle is responsible for oversight and expansion of Kiva's partnerships in eastern and southern Africa. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she began working at Kiva in 2013 after completing a Kiva Fellowship in South Africa and Zambia. Michelle developed a passion for Africa right out of college as a volunteer with the Jane Goodall Institute in Uganda. She went on to conduct graduate research in Gabon with the Wildlife Conservation Society and teach African geography courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to Kiva, Michelle also spent four years working in financial operations and compliance at Nakoma Capital Management. She holds a Master's degree in Geography and African Studies and a Bachelor's degree in Zoology and Conservation Biology from UW-Madison.