“The beauty of the hospitality business and frankly, a lot of smaller franchise businesses is that you can hire people and give people who life has dealt them a tough hand, due to no fault of their own, a second or third chance.”

– Azim Saju, HDG Hotels – Ocala, FL

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Azim Saju, HDG Hotels – Ocala, FL

Being a part of the franchise community is deeply personal for Azim Saju. His family came to the United States from Kenya in 1972. While his parents worked hard to make ends meet, his mother read about the flourishing hotel business in Florida and became intrigued. The family took their first ever vacation in the Sunshine State, where they all immediately felt connected to their homeland through the warm weather and faith-based community. Florida also attracted a lot of visitors, they noticed, and his parents saw an opportunity in the hospitality industry. Within ten years of moving to the United States, they were local business owners.

Today, as President and CEO of Hotel Development & Management Group, Azim is working to lift up others and provide opportunities for people like his parents – people who are seeking to provide a better life for their families. Azim shares, “we have in our company, housekeepers that have started with us as single-parent housekeepers who have now been with us for a very long time, they’re actually equity owners with us. And that’s a big transition not only for them, but for their kids and grandkids. They have 401ks. They own their own home. They’re supporting college education funds for their grandkids. They’re no longer having to work for their paycheck in its entirety, but their money is working for them as owners.”

Azim is clearing roadblocks that too often confront minorities and historically underrepresented people when starting a business. Instead of being left to fend for themselves, the franchising model empowers Azim to provide training, networking, and support to his employees. It also provides opportunities for owners to reach out to public officials to ensure their voices are heard and create opportunities for greater, long-term sucess.

Azim Saju is a local business owner, and he is Open for Opportunity.

Jyoti Sarolia, Ellis Hospitality – Temecula, CA

To Jyoti Sarolia, the American dream was always to own a home. When her family immigrated to America, her parents worked for many years to make this dream a reality. But instead of buying a home, they bought a hotel after years of hard work in various industries. That’s when Jyoti’s American dream changed. Now she wanted to own a business, too. And franchising gave her the opportunity to do just that.

Ruth Agbaji, Code Wiz – Westford, MA

Ruth Agbaji taught herself to code in Nigeria in the early 1990’s. She wanted an opportunity to escape the violence in her country and coding provided her with this chance. Learning code earned her a scholarship to Tufts University, where she received her Master’s degree in Computer Science, and then went on to have a successful career as a Software Engineer working at companies such as Microsoft, Cablevision and Kronos.