Former Kenyan journalist Abdiaziz Ibrahim’s goal of acquiring good leadership skills will now come true after he won Ksh10 million (USD100,000) in the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation fellowship fund.
In an interview with Star Tribune on Wednesday, June 8, the former journalist, who worked at a Kenyan radio station while he was 18 years, disclosed that he intended to use the funds to acquire a master’s degree and spend the rest on self-care such as exercising and eating right.
His rise to the top, however, has not been an easy one since he set foot in the US in 2006 after leaving his radio job in Kenya.
“I went to school and two years of college (in Kenya), studying broadcast journalism. At 18, I worked at a radio station in Nairobi, broadcasting in English and Swahili. I used to gather news and go to events.
A view of the city of Minnesota.
“I came to the U.S. at the beginning of 2006 — 16 years and counting. For 15 of those years, I have had something to do with affordable housing,” he told the publication.
His entry into the US real estate career was somewhat a necessity sparked by the language barrier between his family and the immigration officials.
After they requested his services as an interpreter, he picked up a career full-time and has worked to ensure that immigrants in the US access better living standards.
“One day, I was with some roommates in St. Paul and their neighbours were having problems with mice and stuff like that. I went with that family to the leasing office, doing interpretation for them.
“They told me they had been to the office several times, but they couldn’t explain themselves because of the language barrier. That’s when I realized there was something called property management,” he added.
Soon after, he quickly racked up experience in the sector first by joining Real Estate Equities Development LLC as a property manager in 2007.
He moved up to CommonBond Communities as a property manager in December 2013 then International Institute of Minnesota as a refugee housing case manager.
“For the last seven years, I’ve been working for the Metropolitan Council in the Metro HRA Section 8 program.
“I have also started a nonprofit (Immigrant Housing Solutions, which helps families access affordable housing in Minnesota),” he explained.
File Photo of Microphone in a radio station set up