Be Inspired | Do Good:
Baraka Kasongo, the Chief Executive Officer of VOLATIA Language Network, shared his very interesting story with us. Before he was CEO of the translation company with four offices and many clients all over the United States, Baraka moved to the United States from Rwanda in Africa. His story takes us from his birthplace in Africa to his inspiration and motivation for establishing VOLATIA.
While Baraka and his family were living in Rwanda a civil conflict broke out that forced them to become refugees and flee to five different countries during a period of seven years. In 2001, the family moved to Roanoke, Virginia in the United States. It was a massive culture shock for him and his family who came from a third-world country and knew very little English. His family struggled to communicate with various industries like healthcare and government due to language barriers and disorganized language services. Once Baraka started to learn English, he began to gain interpreting experience by not only helping his family out but others who were struggling with the language as well.
Baraka and other interpreters he recruited continued to interpret for a couple years without payment until it was no longer feasible to interpret voluntarily. The team sought payment and the businesses were on board since the team provided a much-needed service. Baraka planned to create a centralized approach to interpreting so he founded VOLATIA with the goal that those in need of an interpreter can get any language they wanted on demand with a solution that was super friendly, repeatable, reliable, and measurable.
Now the VOLATIA team uses technology to make it possible and they will help anyone at anytime whether it is someone who unable to communicate with a police officer after getting pulled over, someone in the emergency room, or someone who is getting their cable TV set up. Whatever the circumstance or industry, VOLATIA will be there.
Using the foundation of VOLATIA as inspiration, Baraka shared a few tips for running a successful business:
- Invest in own leadership early: Entrepreneurs must invest in their ability to lead. Leading has a lot to do with relationships, maximizing each member of the team’s potential, and making sure every member of the team is doing their best because they are in the right place and in the right job.
- Ideas are useless when they are not clearly defined: If you are struggling with which step to take next, make a list of what you want to achieve with defined timelines and specific dates. This will help you know when you achieve your desired outcome.
- Start being more self-aware: If your goal is to do something or be something, talk to people who are in the positions already to see how happy they are. Many times we think we want things when, in reality, we do not.
- Be willing to commit to advice given: Nothing hurts an individual more than to take the time to help someone and have them completely ignore your advice. It diminishes their zeal and desire to help others.
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