My Opportunity to Give Back to EO

Ami Kassar met some inspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I find there are rarely enough hours in the day, but EO helped make me a more complete person. And I want to make time to help others have the same experience.

By Ami Kassar

Last week, I attended the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Leadership Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. EO is a global peer-to-peer learning community with more than 17,500 members in 220 chapters in 61 countries. In July, I will start my presidency of the Philadelphia Chapter, where we currently have 111 members.

Taking on leadership of a non-profit organization is a big commitment of time and energy, especially while building a business. So a fair question might be why I’m accepting this responsibility. And how do I intend to manage my already crazy schedule with this extra load? 

The answer is that being a member of EO taught me that spending time working on and thinking about things other than my business is healthy. Before I started my EO journey, I was in survival mode. Life was about work and whatever time I could squeeze in for my family. It was around the clock, 24/7. Having fun and pursuing hobbies were not a part of my DNA. I considered attending a workshop or a talk that I didn’t think could improve my business a waste of time. I was caught in the rat race.

It was EO that slowly started to break me down. I remember my first forum, where the members asked me—well, told me—to toss my cell phone into the bag for the meeting. I shook. I recall going on our first forum retreat to Puerto RIco and participating in activities I would never have done in my previous life. But as I slowly became more comfortable talking about personal and business issues, it became clear to me that I was becoming a more complete person.

EO is more than just the forum experience. There is an ever-expanding menu of local, regional, international, and virtual learning experiences to pick from. The more experiences that you can take advantage of and the more relationships with fellow entrepreneurs you can build, the more transformational moments you will enjoy along the way.

For me, one of those moments came during an exercise members did with a group of Scaling UP coaches during the pandemic. We worked together on developing our One Page Personal Plans, a tool designed to help owners grow their businesses without sacrificing their personal lives.

During this exercise, I had an epiphany. A friend said, “Ami, you close loans to pay your bills and keep your lights on, but let’s face it, your passion in life is helping entrepreneurs grow and succeed.” As I took that in, I realized that he was right. And suddenly my perspective changed about what was possible. I am not sure I would have accepted the EO presidency if it had not been for this experience.

EO provides a natural platform for me to continue this vital work. In EO, we have regular learning events, and many of our members meet in monthly forums to work on their businesses. But the real magic of EO comes when our members have epiphanies like the one I described above. And if I can help make this community more robust, other entrepreneurs will have similar experiences.

I had another one of those transformational moments on our last day in Cape Town. Earlier in the week we rallied about 60 EO members to Mzansi Restaurant in Langa township. We wanted to experience the local culture. Sadly, the “mama” and founder of Msanzi is in hospice care in Cape Town. While we didn’t get to meet her, we did meet her husband and her two sons. One, Mbasa, runs the restaurant, and the other, Sabu, has a transportation company that organized the vans that got us there.

We arrived and were escorted into the restaurant, and the gates were shut. We ate delicious food and listened to beautiful music. But most inspiring of all was how Sabu explained how their mom and dad started the restaurant, the principles they taught them, and how they marketed it. Deep in the poverty of the township, they have a thriving business.

A group of us put some money together, and on our last day of the trip, the brothers took us to an orphanage in their township. About 36 kids were living in a small shack. They had beautiful smiles but no running water or electricity. The worst part was that maybe 20 yards away, a party raged at the local pub.

On one hand, it felt great to go into Langa and be able to contribute some money,  But it was also clear that our donation couldn’t begin to address wasn’t even making a scratch into the larger issues.  But I am hopeful that with the collective energy of entrepreneurship, we can try to make the world a better place.  And with this commitment, I stand ready to start my journey as EO Philadelphia President. 

Ami Kassar is CEO of MultiFunding.

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