About VIRL

With a love for their country, and a passion for helping women and girls, co-founders Virginia Sibanda and Farai Mpofu launched VIRL Microfinance to help rural farmers be able to get a small loan and give their families hope for a better life. VIRL Financial Services provides small loans for enterprise development in Zimbabwe. They have have helped over 5000 micro and small enterprises gain access to capital. 88% of all of their loans are to women.

Their Goals, Our Purpose

With a desire to grow their investor portfolio and grow their own access to capital to increase the number of loans they could provide, VIRL engaged Sana’s Kitchen to help them develop their digital capacity to tell stories about their organization and who they lend to.

Upon reviewing their website and social media we discovered both needed to become more engaging. With just a couple hundred followers on Facebook, and it being the #1 social media channel used throughout Africa, we decided to:

  • Help them improve their storytelling capabilities to increase followers, likes and shares on Facebook.

  • Help them build an investment oriented video campaign to boost interest in investing into VIRL.

While VIRL staff members were routinely familiar with reporting to bank regulators and economic development organizations, in the region, they were unfamiliar with best practices for sharing their progress across social media to increase awareness and build a coalition of potential investors and stakeholders both inside, and especially outside, of Zimbabwe. Sana’s Kitchen showed them how to increase their traction with new audiences by making their stories accessible, fun and interesting instead of diagnostic and filling a ‘regulatory reporting’ requirement in nature.

When we began working with VIRL we asked them to tell us a story about one of their clients. This is what we received:

By the time we finished our work with them, they were telling their stories like this:

Meet Perpetua Muzire, one of VIRL’s clients.

Perpetua is into horticulture and poultry. She has a 2 x 120 square meter green house in her backyard.  She produces cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper and baby marrow. She keeps 500-600 chickens depending on the season.

Perpetua has established a horticulture produce company called Peps Veggies and has managed to secure contracts with retail supermarkets in Harare. She has two employees that help her with field work; her children also join in when they are on holidays. The loan from VIRL helped her to expand her business activities to include chicken raring; as a result she has built a big chicken fowl. Her relationship with VIRL began in 2015 but she is running out of room in her backyard to expand. She needs to raise more money to lease more land to expand her business.

Perpetua got the idea to start her business after she left her job; she got motivated by the fact that she wanted to continue supporting her family the way she was able to supporting it when she was still working.

Additionally we helped VIRL build a simple landing page. Using their targeted keywords our ladies found and shared it to potential loan recipients and investors in the region.  Following it we added a variety of the stories they had written, in a series of emails, to introduce to others some of their successes. Our goal was to find both potential qualified loan applicants as well as gain interest from investors for VIRL.

To further strengthen potential investor interest, we helped VIRL’s staff learn how to create video storyboards and build their first corporate video seeking investment.

Our Results

Over the 9 month period of time we worked with VIRL, we were able to increase their followers, likes and shares by over 600% on Facebook. Through our landing page, email campaign and the creation of their video, we helped them build a mailing list of over 350 qualified leads and dozens of potential new investors. Our efforts also dramatically raised their regional profile, resulting in their inclusion in new opportunities, programs and projects with USAID.