Rachael Sidi is a 19 year old university student in Kenya who is making the Aiducation family proud of her! She is the founder and CEO of “Churchill’s Choice”, an organization that provides fish supply for fish farmers who otherwise struggle to find honest fish supplies and options. Creating this business as well as attending university lets Rachael fulfill her dream of helping her community. Rachael is a brave young woman with a strong personality and determination to make a difference.
Rachael grew up as the only girl in a family of four children in the city of Gede on the Kenyan Coast. In 2009, Rachael graduated from primary school with top grades but a lack of funds for high school when Aiducation enter her life and funded four years of education for her. Now, Rachael is attending university on her own and she is a proud member of the AiudAlumni. In her limited spare time, she developed a business that is called Churchill Choice to provide income in rural communities and she agreed to share her story with us.
Passionale about helping and successful: AiduAlumna Rachel.
Rachael, what is the idea behind Churchill’s Choice?
In a very simple way, it is a fish farming company. Even though the town of Gede is by the sea, the supply of fish by the fishermen is scarce. We grow fish on a fish farm for local women who make their income from the sale of these fish. Many times, women who want to make a living selling fish deal with fishermen and fish farms who ask for sexual favors in addition to higher prices to have a guaranteed fish supply. Churchill’s Choice will offer female fishmongers the choice to buy fish with no “extra-charge”, in an honest way.
How did you first learn about this problem?
It wasn’t a problem lived by any person I know personally, but it is a problem known at my community. I remember as a teenager, sitting next to two women and one of them was facing this problem. She needed to buy fish to sell at her fried-fish stand (food street stand) to make money to support her children. She was a single parent and was having to offer sexual favor to a fisherman in order for him to continue providing her with fish. She had no one else to buy it from. She knew that he was married and he was just asking those sexual favors because he could and no one would say anything. Hearing that story made me feel very uncomfortable and even though many years passed by, I never forgot it.
Impressions of the Churchill’s Choice project.
Was this a project you have always dreamt of launching?
No… definitely not. It was a big surprise for me as well. I had graduated from high school with a scholarship from Aiducation and, as part of their project, they have many seminars with different partners to help the AiduAlumni succeed in life. One of these seminars was the Swiss Re Start Up academy in 2014. There we had to make a business plan for a startup company which would help change society. I was in a group with three other AiduAlumni and I brought this problem to them. Together, we worked on building a business plan to develop fish farming to give these fishmonger women a better choice. Our idea turned out really good and at the end of the seminar, we were rewarded with the possibility of getting investments to turn our business plan into reality. At first it was even a shock for us, we did not have any experience in fish farming or running a company. It took us a lot of work and dedication to really make it happen.
Are you now a full-time Business woman at Churchill’s Choice?
No, I am also doing my Bachelor in English Literature at Narok University. I also have the dream to become a teacher. But when we got the chance to really help society, I could not run from this opportunity. I caught myself thinking how people believe in our project, our idea and now we have the investment. We can make a difference in these women’s life. Even though I was a bit afraid and it was really, really hard I knew I had to do it. Going to university, studying about fish farming, dealing with the fishpond construction and dealing with the investor’s money was very complicated and hard, but somehow we pulled through. And within one year from the seminar until today, we made it happen. In October we had our first fish harvest and sale.
How is the company today?
We are still small, but somehow bigger then our business plan. First we thought we would have about 600 fishes, but we have over 6.000 fishes because they are already breeding. We are working the same four students who created the first business plan and one of the Aiducation volunteers who help us with our accounts. We have learned a lot from fishpond functions to making fish food. We have one employee that takes care of the fishes and the ponds and also delivers to our first seven costumers.
Florian Kapiza, CEO Aiducation International and Jeremia Kambi, CEO Aiduation Kenya, are stunned by the project Rachel launched.
What does this company represent to your family, your community and the fishermen?
Our families are very proud of our accomplishment. My mom helped us visit the ponds from time to time and my brothers have helped me with ideas. We are very happy with it. For our community, we are still studying the impacts. We started the fish sales this month and we are supplying fish for seven women so far but we are following up to see how the new “fish supplier” will impacted their lives. And as for the fishermen, we don’t offer any threat, not only because we are small, but also because today we only offer one fish, Tilapia. It is Sweetwater fish so does not compete directly with what they sell. But our goal is accomplished: we are a choice for the fishmonger women to buy fish with integrity.
And what are the future plans for Churchill’s Choice?
We want be able to help more women, for sure. And who knows, maybe be the biggest fish supplier in Kenya providing sustainable, high quality and reliable fish for a healthy society. But today we only have one type of fish and we want first to work on our volume and variety so we can better serve our local fishmongers. I also want to finish my studies, become a teacher along with running my company, and live a happy life.