4 first-generation Somali American nurses started their own business to care for patients in need - Star Tribune

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As a result, they were unable to follow through on doctors' orders, said Abdulle, who came to Minneapolis from Somalia in 1993 at age 7 and went on to earn her doctorate in nursing.
"We are all first-generation immigrants and the first women in our families to be educated in general," said Abdulle, 36.
Meda "just really embraced us and said, 'Tell us about your goals [and] dreams,'" said Abdulle, who, along with her sister, earned nursing doctorates from Augsburg University.
That's the plan, Abdulle said.
If the company continues on the same track, that amount should grow, Abdulle said.

4 first-generation Somali American nurses started their own business to care for patients in need - Star Tribune

F aiso Abdulle asked around when she saw some patients return again and again to the Minneapolis hospital where she worked. Fellow nurses saw the same thing. They figured out a similarity between the patients: They did not have stable housing. As a result, they were unable to follow through on doctors' orders, said Abdulle, who came to Minneapolis from Somalia in 1993 at age 7 and went on to earn her doctorate in nursing. She and fellow nurses — her sister Ikraan Abdulle, Murwo Elmi and Farhia Abdulahi — decided in 2021 to do something to solve their patients' problem. They founded OurPlace Residential Services, fulfilling a life's dream to own their own business. "We are all first-generation immigrants and the first women in our families to be educated in general," said Abdulle, 36. "So we're all very excited to be the first women in our families to have businesses. We love what we do." At first, they only provided nursing care inside patients' homes. The business grew to seven clients. But the nurses, ages 34 to 43, wanted to offer much more than in-home health care. So they worked with the Minnesota Department of Health and earned licenses and contracts to provide "integrated support services." That means providing medical care, stable housing and the supportive administrative/coaching services needed to stabilize disabled and homeless patients. The extra aid meant the clients could stay out of the hospital and out of homeless shelters. OurPlace Residential leased its first apartment and rented it to a patient a year ago. Since then, it has added six more apartments in south Minneapolis, Eden Prairie and Burnsville for disabled clients, some with mental illnesses. On March 31, the nurses put down $100,000 and bought a distressed $1.1 million apartment building on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. Renovations worth $1.5 million began Aug. 1. When finished this fall, the building will sport an elevator, new roof, new heating system and 14 apartments for 14 additional clients. The $2.6 million project received financing from the business-assistance group Meda, the city of Minneapolis and the U.S. Small Business Administration after several banks turned the nurses down for a loan. Meda "just really embraced us and said, 'Tell us about your goals [and] dreams,'" said Abdulle, who, along with her sister, earned nursing doctorates from Augsburg University. "This allows us to be participants in the goals of trying to end homelessness and impact people's health. Now we can take people who could not quality for their own apartment before due to mental health or poor credit." Patrick Pariseau, vice president of lending and client services for Meda, ran OurPlace's numbers and saw that its business plan worked. "We expect they'll break even and start to generate profit next year," he said. The business can scale up because the four nurses can buy another building or lease more apartments for clients, he said. That's the plan, Abdulle said. It has been quite a journey. Three of the four nurses still work hospital jobs during the day while running the business on nights and weekends. The company that started in Faiso Abdulle's house found its first office on Portland Avenue in Minneapolis last year. This summer, OurPlace Residential moved into a much bigger office in Bloomington. At first, the nurses paid their 11 employees — who make $15 to $19 an hour — from their hospital paychecks. But in April, the company finally made enough money to pay their staff and themselves. The four split $5,000 four ways. If the company continues on the same track, that amount should grow, Abdulle said. The state is striving to cut homelessness by providing more vulnerable adults help with housing, health care, groceries, transportation, bill-paying and employment. The nurses "saw real value in this," Pariseau said. "It's not always about the money. They said, 'Yes, we can make some money, but we will take on and upgrade a [distressed] building that is not high rent, will generate community and upgrade a neighborhood in need and help people.' That made them unique. They have a real zest."
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