Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Do Safi Sana?

For those of you who don't know, Safi Sana is the cleaning business of City of Refuge. I first started it as a for profit corporation to hire my African refugee friends who desperately needed jobs. Then in November of last year I started the non-profit City of Refuge which cares and provides for needs of the refugees in Mid-Missouri and made Safi Sana a part of the non-profit. The goal then became for Safi Sana to help support the non-profit.

For those of you who have never owned or run a company, it's hard at times. Every couple months I ask myself, "why are we doing this?" Today I'm asking myself, "Am I causing too much stress on my friend Lauren who is my general manager? Is anyone benefiting? Is City of Refuge benefiting? Should we keep doing this? Why are we doing this at this point of time?"

I don't expect Safi Sana to continue forever because managing it is so difficult. I know how difficult it is because I did it myself for more than a year. Not only do you have the normal frustrations of employees calling in sick, not performing well every time, but also with Safi Sana we have some employees who don't speak English fluently, some who don't read English and some who don't have any sense of direction. This causes a lot of headaches and trouble for us who manage Safi Sana.

Then on top of the employee difficulties, we also from time to time have clients who don't pay or who are not kind. (Though thankfully both of these are rare if you look at the whole of all our clients.)

So, why do Safi Sana? If you look at the profitability of Safi Sana you would find that it is not very profitable. We give a majority of our money to our employees and the rest goes to buying cleaning supplies and paying taxes and insurance. Thankfully from time to time we do have enough profit to help City of Refuge, but if profitability were the only reason to keep Safi Sana open today we would close it. However, Lauren and I are working on this and trying to increase the amount of money the company can give the non-profit so that hopefully in the future Safi Sana will be a big blessing to the non-profit.

Here is why I like doing Safi Sana:

1) We love the high of our clients loving the refugees in town. Our cleaning business has more than just refugees working for it, but still about half of our employees are refugees and we get such a kick out of clients who absolutely adore the refugees who work for them. We have numerous examples of this, but one of my favorites from this year came from a lady who asked us to please "not send a refugee". Her thought was that she wouldn't be able to communicate with a refugee, which can be true at times, but is not always true. After looking at the schedule and really not having any other options, we sent Cing Cing. Cing Cing is one of our favorite refugees. She is from Burma and really you would never know she was a refugee unless she said something. The lady immediately fell in love with Cing Cing and even took her home a couple times.

2) We help people - refugees, immigrants and Americans. I could go down our employee list and give you story after story of employees who were desperate for a job and we helped them. Monia is just one example. She quit Safi Sana this week, at least for now. But she is a immigrant from Tunisia, a Muslim woman, who desperately wanted and needed to work. She was unable to find work because of her shy demeanor and her busy class schedule. We fit her into a couple jobs and helped her provide for herself for the last several months. So when days are really stressful or discouraging I think of who is working for us now who wouldn't be able to get a job anywhere else. They don't thank us 99% of the time, but we know we are helping them and their family.

3) I like that refugees are meeting people in town. If they just worked for Linen King, MBS, or Kraft they wouldn't be interacting with hardly anyone in town. This way people in our city are learning why refugees are here in Columbia and how really they are just like us.

So, with God's help and blessing, we will do this another day.