Rachael Chieza is the President and CEO of Every Child Fed. She is passionate about having a positive impact, from day to day small things to very big things - like ending malnutrition and hunger in Africa. She has extensive experience working in over ten countries in Africa and Latin America with a focus on a variety of children’s health and welfare issues. Holds two Masters’ degrees in International Development and International Child Welfare.
2.8 million children die of hunger each year around the world. The tragedy is that this is NOT an incurable disease, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. No child should die of hunger.
1. Who are you and what do you want people to know about you?
"...just an average person."
This is how Rachael describes herself, which could not be farther from the truth. Because she is so humble, it would be easy to believe she is just an average person. But as soon as you listen to her and get updates on what she is doing, you will never believe she is just average ever again.
ECF is has worked in three countries, one of which is Zambia. In Zambia 108,060 children will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition in 2015. With a 40% mortality rate, that means 43,224 children will starve to death each year, 118 each day, just in Zambia.
5 words to describe her
When we think about brand building, it is important to define what your brand is and also what you want it to be too. When I asked Rachael to describe herself in 5 words...here is what she said.
"Grateful. Adventurous. Positive. Introspective. Passionate."
"You choose to bring passion to wherever you are".
"I have learned my most valuable lessons from interactions with all types of people. From my family, friends, colleagues, and mentors around the world. You can't help but be inspired by the people you see - who is succeeding, who is not, and why? I have learned to be open, generous, and authentic."
3. What do you believe?
a) "We are all immensely powerful beyond what we feel or think and we can use it for a positive or negative affect. Our words and intentions are very powerful."
b) "If we get enough people moving in the right direction - we can change the world."
c) Another core belief Rachael mentioned was: "Beyond being powerful, love is the most important force when used with intelligent action."
"Beyond being powerful, love is the most important force when used with intelligent action."
d) "We all have our role to play. What's yours? What is your thing? I thought if I like this, maybe I should be doing this full time."
4. How does your personal brand align with Every Child Fed?
"Every Child Fed is really the alignment of my heart and my head. It is ridiculous that the world allows so many children to die every day, and it breaks my heart. But a mushy broken heart isn't going to fix it. An entrepreneurial approach and plan is what is really needed. ECF was started by a group of people to help children dying of starvation in Africa in a sustainable way."
When I asked Rachael why a business plan was needed - here was one of the data points she shared.
"Zambia loses 2-3% of GDP each year because of malnutrition. That's $500-750 million each year. An investment in nutrition is a long term investment in the future health, education and productivity of a child for their entire life.
Setting up a factory is a significant upfront investment at roughly $2.5m. But if we do that now, over the next ten years we can save 432,240 lives. It also creates markets for thousands of farmers and jobs for factory workers. The long term benefits to the economy far outweigh the initial investment.
This is not a quick fix. It's a long-term improvement in the health infrastructure of the country. It's not cheap or easy, but it's the right thing to do.
Peanuts are consumed in 108 million households in the US. If just .5% (540,000) of those households donated $5, we would have enough money to build the factory."
5. What are the three most memorable experiences you have had?
a) Her first trip to Africa when she truly felt at home.
b) When she worked in a malnutrition clinic and came face to face with the life or death situations these children and families face every day. In her words, "frustrating, heartbreaking, and yet once you start helping these children and they come back and you see them get better, it is unbelievable."
c) White water rafting on the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. It is classified as Grade 5 - "extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas." . It is dangerous, and you lose track of the times you are thrown out and have to climb back in to the raft. It was an amazing adrenaline rush and also amazing fun.
"Life is hard, have fun wherever and whenever you can."
6. What is next for you and for Every Child Fed?
Rachael is dedicated to developing a systemic and sustainable solution to reduce malnutrition. Her focus is on preventing the problem while solving it. In particular, with Zambia, with a 40% mortality rate in children, she is partnering with health care workers, government, and locals to develop and deliver a solution that works. This is a multi-sector team effort and yet she already sees change underway.
I am thrilled to announce that since Rachael and I spoke, she was accepted as one of the sixty participants in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. This is an amazing opportunity that can help her have more impact and make a difference in even more ways.
"We can all have a part to play, it can be small or big, you just have to decide."
Be your best self,