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Angela Odero: Accountant Who Ditched Seven-year-old Successful Business to Venture into Fish Farming

Angela Odero is the CEO and co-founder of Rio Fish Limited.

She established the company in 2014 with the hope of ending exploitive practices in the country’s vast seafood industry.

These practices include the infamous sex-for-fish trade where women are sexually exploited by predatory fishermen.

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Here is Angela’s story as told by WoK.

Angela’s interest in fish farming started in 2014 while working in Kampala, Uganda.

She developed a keen interest in aquaculture, particularly cage fish farming, after noticing that the country had adequate fish compared to Kenya.

Angela later dove deeper in aquaculture while typing her mother’s MSc thesis, The Impact of Sex-for-Fish on the Spread of HIV in Lake Victoria Region.

These harrowing revelations were an eye-opener for Angela who then committed herself to solving such societal problems.

She sold her stake in an architectural photocopying business in Kampala and moved to Homa Bay where she planned to set up a cage fish farming business.

Fish farming

Despite facing some challenges while starting off, Angela later set up the fish cages after securing approvals and the requisite documentation from Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.

“We started off with metal cages and sinking feeds. The use of sinking feeds meant that the fish were not adequately fed, leading to longer than normal cycles and we also lost a lot of our fish to theft,” she said.

Employees at Angela Odero’s Rio Fish PHOTO/The Fish Site

The venture started with five metallic cages of 5,000 fingerlings, although they later switched to plastic cages after being informed of the dangers caused by the metallic cages.

“We had to ship plastic cages from China along with experts to fix the cages and nets,” Angela said in an interview with Business Daily.

With the help of her husband and bank loans, Angela has sunk a total of Ksh 30 million into the business.

“We now have the right feeds, and understand the business better with technical support from Kemfri and our partner organisations,” she said.

Challenges

Angela also said they have faced numerous challenges including hefty taxes and theft of fishes by fishermen who assume they harvest all the fish.

“After the theft, we reshuffled the staff, employed a competent farm manager and installed a CCTV surveillance system,” the financial expert said.

Adding, “We also stepped up our engagement with the Beach Management Units, supporting their activities and inviting members to form groups who we lent cages, gave a first batch of fingerlings and feeds and invited them to join our site and form a part of the farm.”

Angela also noted that they had challenges with employing the right personnel.

“We had a Ugandan farm manager for the longest time because we couldn’t get a local. Some have integrity issues, poor work ethic and attitude,” she said.

Rio Fish aims to aggregate 15,000 tonnes of fish from 10,000 smallholder fish farmers by 2030.

“We have now embarked on an aggressive capacity building and advertising campaign and have had significant traction,” Angela told The Fish Site.

Rio Fish employs 28 women as full-time staff, which comprises 70 percent of their workforce, ensuring that around 80 percent of their managers are women.