As early as 7am on any given day, Terry Simaanya can be found at his red shipping container located at the bustling mini-bus station and market of Chipata compound in Lusaka. The container is overflowing with crates of Coke, Fanta and Sprite.
With a disarming smile that easily compensates for the bleak weather outside, he hastily organizes his micro-distribution centre (MDC) to ensure easy visibility of the wide assortment of Coca Cola products received the previous evening.
“You work harder when you work for yourself,” exclaims the 33 year-old father of two. “But everything you earn is yours. I like the freedom of being my own boss,” he says, echoing the sentiment of many MDC owners across the city who sell Coca-Cola products wholesale to local retailers and customers.
Terry started his MDC business in June 2009 from accumulated savings because as he puts it “employment opportunities in the country [are] next to zero…with a young family I had to have job security.” With steely grit and determination, the ambitious entrepreneur and his wife Thandiwe were able to open a second MDC location in the Chazanga compound three years later.
But Terry’s dream of continuing to be his own boss were nearly dashed in April 2012 when he arrived one morning to find the door to his Chazanga container open and all 120 crates of drinks he had inside were gone. The theft cost Terry approximately $1,800 and since he had just opened that location he had no savings to replace the lost stock. Terry was even more crestfallen when he applied for a loan at a bank and was denied because of a lack of collateral. “It was very depressing,” he recalls as he shoves empty crates to the back of the container.
In September 2012, Zoona came to Terry’s rescue by offering him working capital support of $3,000 at zero percent interest if he uses the Zoona payments system exclusively instead of using cash to pay the local bottling company. He agreed to the terms and has been using Zoona ever since.
“The working capital and the payment system has made a huge difference for my business,” he says. “I have more crates and therefore I have more stock.” Terry is even more grateful that he was introduced to the Zoona payment system. “I used to close my container for up to three hours, twice per week and travel by bus with a ton of cash to the bottling company to make my payment. Talk about sweating! But now that I pay using the phone, there’s no more of that. I even make my payments while at home at night. I am also a more reliable supplier because my container is always open.”