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Diaspora Matters

Interview With Award Winning Ruth Marimo

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We are always reaching out to the Diaspora community, interviewing our brothers and sisters based on foreign soil. We have to date covered Canada, Dubai, India, Angola, Namibia and today we cover USA.  We we feature a sister who recently won an award for her company Ruth Cleaning Service. We send her 9 questions in order to know her better. Below are questions and answers from her;
1.  Can you please tell us about yourself, Who is Ruth Marimo?
 Ruth Marimo is a 37 year old single mother of two who lives in Bellevue, Nebraska. She has authored two books, a memoir titled ‘Outsider: Crossing Borders, Breaking Rules, Gaining pride’, which chronicles her immigration journey from her country of origin, Zimbabwe, as well as the complexities of being a multiple minority, a work of fiction titled ‘Indelicate Things’, she has also co-authored ‘Women Beyond Belief’, and she was featured in the book ‘Pantsuit Nation’. Marimo was a TEDX Omaha speaker for 2015, a 2012 Yale LGBTQ Conference speaker, a 2016 Harvard LGBTQ Conference panelist, was nominated for a 2017 Young Black and Influential Award in Omaha. She has a residential and commercial cleaning business called ‘Ruth’s Cleaning Service’ that has been growing for 6 years. Her commercial clients include non-profits like The Union For Contemporary Arts, and Women’s Fund of Omaha. When she is not busy raising her two kids, she speaks and fights for many causes including racial inequality, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, and she also mentors at risk youth.

Through her worldly experiences, Marimo works hard to impart some of the knowledge she has gained with her peers that are back in Africa, and uses the values she learnt in Africa to give people here a different perspective. Ruth Marimo also enjoys the challenges that come with being a small business owner and being able to give other people an income while providing a much needed service. Her number one job is that of raising her two children who are aged 11 and 13, who excel in both sports and academics. Being a voice for the marginalized is something Marimo is deeply passionate about.

2.  How did u start your company:

I learned about the cleaning business while helping a former partner and her mother with their cleaning business. I used the internet to research how best to start and build up my business, what materials to buy, how to market my business and how to train myself as well as employees to produce professional work.

3.  What are the key challenges you faced:

In the beginning marketing was tough, it took a while to have enough clients who believed in our work. Once we built trust with these clients, they started referring our business and things got simpler. The other challenge is finding reliable employees, I have mostly been lucky in this regard.

4.   Who supported you in your business?:

In the beginning I received a lot of support from my church family at the time, someone coached me on how to become a good business owner, someone else helped me with my first supplies, others became our very first clients.

5.  Do you have a business background?:

I actually have a nursing background, but I am also an author and activist and have been my own boss for the last decade.

6. Any plans to expand your business:

My business is growing all the time, I want to grow slowly and without taking on debt.

7.  Congrats on winning a recent award, what is it about?:

The 40 under 40 Midlands Business journal Award honors 40 greater Omaha, Sarpy County and Council Bluffs entrepreneurs, executives and professional men and women under 40 years of age each year.

8.  You have done several presentations, tell us more about them:

In my activism work I have had the chance to speak at places like Harvard and Yale and TEDX Omaha.

9.  What advice would you give to women interested in starting business: Write a business plan, figure out how to get it launched, work harder than anyone else and just get it done.

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Diaspora Matters

Weekly Update: What is in the budget for you?

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ZBIN wraps up the carpet making course phase one in the coming weeks. The phase one involved launching the programme regionally which saw us travelling to Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

We dared to dream and got interesting tales to tell. Indeed Africa is blessed with endless opportunities, to benefit you need to have a positive mindset and be willing to take the risks. I remember our advert going viral across the region reaching out to millions of Africans across the region….in one weekend we had thousands of people reacting to our advert. We probably had the most invites ever for a Zimbabwean organisation. Thousands wanted us to visit Lesotho, They wanted us in Mzuzu, East London, Cape Town, Francis Town….the list is endless.

We invited a few champions to come for training in Harare and had 7 selected members coming to Harare for training so that they could go and launch it in their countries. It was not an easy decision for those who decided to come to Zimbabwe especially those coming for the first time. Some were warned of human trafficking and we had a gentleman coming to our offices inorder to check whether we are genuine. In Lesotho on the groups we had formed the members started conversing in their local language with the word Mugabe being mentioned several times…before we knew it, the 5 people who were supposed to visit Harare had developed cold feet…they later on found good excuses not to come.

The training went ahead minus Lesotho and we successfully launched the programme in Harare at our offices in Monavale. The trained champions did a fabulous jobs of helping us to coordinate the regional launch in their respective countries.

They helped us to travel to Nelspruit, Durban, Mthata, Joburg, Pietermaritzburg, East London etc. We even went to Lesotho and proved that no human trafficking was going to happen in Harare. Our support to champions in Botswana, Malawi and Swaziland saw us reaching out to hundreds of trainees directly and thousands indirectly.

Success Stories.
1. We helped to form more than 8 women owned companies.
2. Program adopted by 2 governments
3. More than 15 Facebook Pages on tapestry formed.
4. Supported entrepreneurs with funding templates.
5. Added more than 5,000 regional members to ZBIN.
6. Helped secure markets for trainees.
7. Negotiated for establishment of one stop shops for supplies in Limbe, Malawi and Albertina Sisulu Street in Johannesburg.

The program was a pilot phase had a lot of challenges but the overall result is that it was a success. The second phase is going to be bigger and better and corporate sponsored. It will involve the support of the thousands of women across Southern Africa especially in terms of markets. Market fairs, arts and crafts hubs will be following in 2018. We also introduced Digital Marketing hubs and started with the Mpumalanga Real Queens in Action where in the first week they reached 100,000 views-not bad for a pilot project that seeks to help women entrepreneurs with useful business information.

What next for ZBIN in 2018?
A big project is under development. We know the region better—from Cape Town to Walvis Bay, East London to Limbe, Durban to Maseru. In the process we developed strong business linkages, distribution networks and will be using them to launch other initiatives. More to follow once the projects are complete.

Budget Review.
The Finance Minister presented a game changing budget and we think the many analysts we have in the country have done enough justice to the budget. What is perhaps missing in all the analysis is what is in it for the entrepreneur? We hope to cover this in detail during the week and look at specific policies or initiatives that will directly benefit the small or individual business owner.

Another question is why do we have yearly budgets? How about 5 years budgets which are broken down into annual budgets? This will enable us to see the big picture and compare the yearly budget versus previous budgets and performance against the 5 year budget. A five year budget allows a minister leeway to strategically plan for the long term. We urge long term planning and long term budgeting with the yearly budget not being a surprise.

The starting process In budgeting is having a strategic plan or initiative in place which will inform the creation of a budget. The official strategic plan for the government Is the ZIMASSET, how does the Budget align to ZIMASSET? Are there targets from ZIMASSET to be met in the budget? Hoping that in future when government strategic plans are devised, they will align them to the budget for ease of tracking and monitoring. The current budgeting process needs tweaking and we hope next year will be better.

Wots Up this week?
We hope to feature a Bitcoin interview of some of the Zimbos who are doing well with Bitcoin Mining. We have not done Facebook Lives in a while and we will be reaching out to our members to feature on our platform and help others with key information.

Wishing you a blessed week.

Asante Sana

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