Founded in 2010, Rent to Own (RTO) is a social business that seeks to provide high-impact assets to micro-entrepreneurs in rural Zambia. These assets (such as refrigerators, hammer mills and irrigation pumps) help catalyze business growth and improvement in prosperity for clients who do not have access to such equipment in underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities.
In Zambia especially, farmers and rural business owners lack access to affordable, available and appropriate equipment for key business ventures such as farming and food production. Without productive assets these entrepreneurs are not able to realize their business potential.
Rent to Own directly responds to this challenge through a holistic approach: not only do we help clients select their assets but we also provide low-cost distribution, tailored financing and training services so each customer walks away with the assets, knowledge, and skills needed to grow their business over the long term.
In 2008 Patrun Chikolwizu was working for a Zambian honey company when Mark Hemsworth came to join him in working with over 5,000 rural honey farmers. Together they saw first-hand that these farmers and other entrepreneurs had the potential to grow their businesses but couldn’t access the proper assets and support to make their dreams into a reality.
Mark and Patrun combined their entrepreneurial capacity to formulate an approach to connect these entrepreneurs to the assets they needed to grow their businesses. The approach was called Rent to Own and was continually iterated upon from 2010-2013. Jeffrey Scheidegger then joined the business with his corporate finance background to bring the necessary controls and systems to allow the business to scale.
Today Rent to Own has grown to 40 full-time staff and has provided over USD $2.5 million in micro assets with over 1,200 clients benefiting on an annual basis.
Meet our diverse and amazing staff who helps RTO grow with their insight and experience.
After spending several years as a manager in the restaurant and retail industry, in 2008 Mark took a posting through Engineers Without Borders working with the company Forest Fruits Ltd, a business that buys honey from 5,000 farmers in very remote areas. While working in Zambia Mark noticed that many rural entrepreneurs couldn’t grow their businesses because they didn’t have access to the asset capital or equipment necessary to improve their output and productivity. It was then that Mark realized he could bridge the gap between these entrepreneurs and their full business potential by starting his own social business that would offer the missing equipment that they needed. Today he is the co-founder and CEO of Rent to Own
Co-Founder & Board Member
Patrun met with Mark in 2008 while employed at Forest Fruits Ltd.- a honey exporting business comprised of 5,000 beekeepers in Northwestern rural Zambia. Together they started sharing ideas and discovered that that a lot of business owners in the rural Zambia had the potential and the opportunity to grow their business but simply weren’t due to a lack of productive assets. They then sat together, made a plan and decided to act. Using his 10 years of experience in field work and business management in rural Zambia, he has played a key role in driving and guiding the company’s growth. Patrun sits on the board of directors and gives strategic input on Rent to Own’s decision-making and growth plans. His favourite part about working in RTO is helping grow businesses in Zambia and the collective enthusiasm that the RTO team shares when it comes to problem solving.
Board of Directors
Rent to Own’s Board of Directors:
- Mark Hemsworth, Co-Founder & Director of Innovation of Rent to Own
- Patrun Chikolwizu, Co-Founder of Rent to Own
- Kaitano Chungu, former MD of Zanaco Bank and current CEO of Bisonite (z) Ltd
- Sandra Murre, Co-Founder & CEO of Jordan Engineering
- Micah Sarkas, Investment Analyst at Lundin Foundation
Rent to Own is supported by like-minded organizations in the development, social and corporate world. These key investors, friends, and advisors have greatly contributed to the growth of our operations as they believe in our mission of helping tap into the entrepreneurial capacity in rural Zambia.