The Women Founder alum series aim to highlight stories of women entrepreneurs and startups who were/are part of the Women in Leadership/Women Founder program at Parkdale Centre for Innovation. We hear from the founders on where they’re currently at with their business, some of the successes and challenges they’re facing, life, and everything in between.
Zamani, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your business? Why did you start CEE and Bamboo Technology?
My name is Zamani Ra and I am an entrepreneur. My purpose in life is to teach and to do so requires having the most fun I possibly can in the process of learning so that I can continue teaching in a way that adds value to our lives. I have started a few businesses and right now both CEEC (pronounced ‘cease’) and The Bamboo Technology are two parts of a larger entity that seem to have the most traction at present.
CEEC stands for Circular Environmental Education Consulting. It is an organization focused on using local footsteps to make global imprints with the goal of reducing climate change impacts. The building I live in had a series of floods that happened all within a short period of time. It always ended up impacting the first floor residents the most. It was devastating, so we got together as a team and created a week long environmental awareness Blitz to get residents to change their behaviours as it relates to waste management and recognize the impact of their decisions on other parts of the world.
It was highly successful with an increased usage of green bin by 67% in the span of 2 months.Zamani Ra
We are also working on an eco building certification program.
The Bamboo Technology (TBT) is a workshop series primarily for parents who identify as Black or of colour. I am writing a love story on the “role of parenting” for people of color who are doing their best to raise a child/ren, while continuously experiencing trauma from racial, systemic and institutional oppression. I am a Black womxn who is also a parent so I locate myself at the core of this topic and I am learning how to manage as best I can, beginning with self worth. TBT will allow me to share what I have been successful with over the course of the last 26 years with others. I told another parent recently, your children are a gift from God. How you raise them is your gift to Humanity. We can only do that when we as parents recognize the significance of our presence in the lives of our young people.
What has been the biggest challenge as an entrepreneur to date?
The learning itself is over-whelming for me as an entrepreneur, because I am simultaneously raising a child without the benefit of a partner so *everything* is on me. Putting self-care at the top of my list and keeping it there so I can meet those challenges has been my biggest challenge to date. In addition resources to do my work: uninterrupted work time, understanding the concept of “value” in many ways which effects if and how I show up to contribute my idea or even see my work as a substantial contribution.
Access to capital and learning how to scale a business idea are also up there.Zamani Ra
Who has been a mentor for you throughout your entrepreneurship journey?
The team guided by Rusul and Mustefa at Parkdale Centre for Innovation have really helped me professionally. It’s been amazing. Also, because I look at life itself as a teacher, I have a lot (too many to mention) of experienced and trusted advisors that have and continue to help shape my lens and bring me to the point where attending the Women In Leadership course was my next step.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
This is still a work in progress for me. At present I use calendars and establish timelines, and schedule in time to do the things I love. And I keep things as positive as possible when things work out with a different outcome than the one I was anticipating.
What advice would you give to future women founders?
There is room in the world for you and your idea so build and grow your belief within yourself. When you decide what you want to do, keep a very close connection to your source (the universe, Mother/Father God, etc) and intuition, always persevere in finding the answers to your questions. Lastly, I would say apply what you have learned immediately and document it so you can refer to it anytime you need to pause for a moment and admire your growth.
What are some next milestones that you’re looking forward to?
For CEEC: I am looking forward to phase one of operations, which is establishing a research team to do some assessments and generate a report that informs our phase two which is: create the building certification program.
For TBT: I am presenting my framework at a conference on healthy parenting in the spring of next year so we are looking forward to that.
How can people support you and your business?
For support I am looking for board members but I am still working on some criteria that I need to change before going wide with my request. While we are sorting that out:
Connect with me through LinkedIn
For CEE – follow me @cee_consulting on IG
For TBT – follow me @thebambootechnology on IG
Zamani Ra is the Founder of Circular Environmental Education Consulting; an organization with a mission to use local footsteps to make global imprints. They conduct workshops on waste management and energy efficiency and connect those actions to the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable populations. She is also a mother, an active Black community supporter, and social justice advocate.