Samer Salem is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His father owns his own store and real estate. His brother is an entrepreneur. So Salem cut the ribbon on his own enterprise, Fresh Catch Fish and Seafood Inc. to follow in the family tradition. And right next door to his father and brother no less.
Fresh Catch Fish is a start-up, one-stop-fish-shop in Chicago’s Gresham community that offers locals eight tanks and 36 feet of freshly-delivered healthy seafood alternatives, as well as a market of vegetables, condiments, and canned items. What’s more, Fresh Catch Fish proudly offers their customers a variety of in-store food prep options: patrons can opt to have their fish filleted, fried, grilled, or steamed on the spot to be dinner-ready in minutes.
Salem, an 18-year veteran to the family-owned business world, was eager to get his business underway and expand his family’s business operations to include his own enterprise within the same shopping center as his father and brother. So much so that the sole owner injected $160,000 from his own resources to ensure Fresh Catch Fish would have the competitive leg-up to offer farm-raised fresh fish and even customer-requested seasonal selections. But his contributions weren’t enough to completely fund his start-up. In order to buy his primary inventory and create 15 new jobs through employee hires, he’d need to find alternative financing.
Through his search, he found that the banks couldn’t help; his business was too new and acquiring a bank loan wasn’t possible for such a young enterprise. So to keep his family business history strong, he turned to VEDC. With financial assistance, Salem was able to garner 56% of what it would be to cover his opening costs. According to him, 50% of the employees will be minority and low-income residents from the local community. With the opening of Fresh Catch Fish, he was able to not only introduce healthy alternatives to the low-income Gresham community, but also improve the community’s economic viability and enhance the delivery of its resident-centric services.
Samer Salem isn’t just taking over his father’s entrepreneurial legacy; he’s expanding it. Through the adaptation of a long lasting family tradition, Salem is putting his business experience towards serving the Chicago community and creating opportunities for those without.