"I was 5 years old when I learned that even as a child, we have
a need for dignity."
Coming as a refugee to Canada and growing up poor, I was increasingly self-conscious about myself and my family, and it was socially isolating. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and all I wanted to do was change how I looked. Because this wasn’t who I was. I wasn’t a refugee, I wasn’t poor, I was just me.
At that point, haircuts were a luxury my family couldn’t afford, I remember being so sick of my mom’s haircuts that I picked up my teddy bear, grabbed a pair of scissors – cutting his hair and then mine. I was 5 years old. From that moment I learned that even as a child, we have a need for dignity.
At the age of 17, I took a leap of faith and founded Cuts for Kids – a youth-led charity that believes that every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. We promote dignity by providing access to opportunities through connecting youth to tailored services – starting with a haircut or style.
It’s amazing the difference something as simple as a haircut can make – and that’s just the start.
Fast forward just 3 short years, thanks to a dedicated team of youth behind the scenes and support from various organizations we have been able to achieve over 1,300 haircuts. Youth Ottawa was one of these supporters and wanted to see us succeed. In 2019, I took part in Youth Ottawa’s Amplified Fellowship a program aimed at helping young social innovators grow their community impact projects. Over the summer I took part in business-design workshops and was coached by a mentor to built a business model canvas for Cuts for Kids in an effort to expand our services and reach.
Since working with Youth Ottawa, we’ve been able to improve and scale our operations. Thanks to the fellowship we were able to enhance our understanding of our primary customer segments and beneficiaries to improve our services, improve our donor story, develop a balanced business model, and secure over $43,000 to revenues to support further growth and impact.