How hard work paid off for shoeshiner-turned-banker
Churchill Winstones is a man who, through determination and desire to live a better life, did menial jobs before he rose to become what he is today.
His story is one that inspires people to do their best in all their undertakings because of the reward that comes with it.
Born in 1977 to Boaz and Margaret Ochieng, Churchill and his seven siblings grew up in Kaloleni Estate where they helped their mother run a grocery business in Burma Market after classes and during school holidays.
He added that growing up in a big family had its problems such as lack of school books and fees.
All the children including him learnt about discipline and doing chores whenever their mother left for two nights a week for her part time job as a bus inspector with the defunct bus company, OTC.
A top performer throughout high school, he did not expect the C+ KCSE grade he got but was happy to be admitted to the University of Nairobi to pursue an electrical and electronics engineering degree.
However his parents couldn’t raise the fee and asked him to defer his studies in favour of his sister Elizabeth Anne.
In the meantime, he joined Gor Mahia FC in 1996 as a striker. Whenever he was not on the pitch, he worked as a shoe shiner, washed cars and sold fruit.
The money he made from the side jobs went to his siblings’ education and savings.
“I saved about Sh100,000 and opened a cafe in Burma Market. Business was booming,” he said.
In 2004, his father fell ill and was admitted to hospital. He used most of his savings on his dad’s treatment. His business also suffered losses as his father’s visitors would eat and not pay their bills.
Loss of business
Unfortunately, his father passed on and, after his death, he continued hawking fruits and washing cars to make ends meet.
“Most of the people I worked for were professionals especially from the banking sector. Unbeknown to me, my passion slowly shifted from engineering to banking,” he said.
“I hustled for four years then one day, I wrote a letter to Dr Gareth George, a former chief executive at Barclays, asking him to give me a job. He wrote back telling me that once an opening was available, he would tell me.”
He was offered a job at the bank as a cleaner.
“I would arrive at the office at 5.30am dressed like a cashier though my work was to clean Mr George’s office. Three weeks later, I was promoted to cleaning supervisor,” he said.
He rose to become a messenger and then, three short months later, was contracted as a regional retail officer for two months, tasked with sending results of underperforming bank branches to the headquarters for analysis before closure.
He was then promoted to oversee the closure of the branches.
“It does not matter if you are a pro or a novice, you are just either weak or strong and you can choose to be either. I learned to do the tasks from my seniors and took them head on. My star continued to shine and I was moved to the debt recovery department,” added the 37-year-old.
His hard work saw him moved from one department to another until he was finally employed permanently after four years on contract.
His happiness was short lived as his boss asked him to take a contract job on a new project the bank was initiating.
“No one backed up this decision. How could I leave a permanent job for a temporary one? Without telling them, I took the leap and I worked harder than ever. My first pay cheque amounted to Sh167,000 (from Sh27,000 as a permanent worker), and it was when I showed everyone this money that they came back to my corner,” said Churchill.
This new project allowed him to earn lucratively and at one point, he walked into a car dealership and bought his first car, cash, for Sh600, 000.
“At this point, the only scars I have to show for my poverty are my photos,” added Churchill.
He was promoted to sales manager and later to regional sales manager for Nyanza and Western counties.
In April 2011, he moved to CFC Stanbic Bank. Last year, he joined Faulu Kenya. Currently he is the head of retail banking in charge of over 100 Faulu Kenya branches with a direct sales and marketing staff of 500.