The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is embracing equity. To celebrate, this month we are featuring three women-led businesses who do exactly that.
Each of these businesswomen are cornerstones of their community who take time out of their busy schedules to support others and lift other women to be the best that they can be.
First up, we spoke with Shaona Imaru, whose Stretton Centre-based NDIS business has grown to have teams all over Adelaide in her first 18 months in business – and she’s not done yet!
What motivated you to start Simaru True Care?
There are two key reasons why I started Simaru True Care. I come from a refugee background, and in the refugee camp, people with disability had no proper form of support. They didn’t have the right equipment, assistance, or knowledge.
The other reason was because when I worked in Australia for several years as a nurse, I kept coming across people who were in hospital not because they needed to be, but because providers had failed them. There is a gap there that needs to be fixed, so through Simaru True Care I want to be able to provide support to people who have been failed in the past.
What are some of the challenges you have faced while upscaling?
Even though we have grown so quickly, I always want to be doing more than what we are doing now. There are always more people asking us for help, and I just want to have the capacity to help as many people as possible. It can be really challenging to have all the resources in place at the right time to match the needs of our community.
What’s next for Shaona and Simaru True Care?
One of my biggest goals is to provide more aged care support and eventually open my own aged care home. I remember when I worked in aged care, I came across a lot of people who had poor nutrition because they were introduced to food that they weren’t used to. For example, our community is becoming increasingly diverse, but they are still being fed the same old fish and chips.
Imagine if for 65 years you’ve had a specific diet, and then suddenly you are transitioned onto steaks.
I would also like to use my business to help donate back into countries where there is no formal disability support available. We are looking into launching a foundation which will allow us to donate equipment and pay for people to get assessments – especially for children who need hearing aids. Carers and loved ones often don’t even know what’s wrong, so providing a centre where they can come for education and moral support would be really valuable. Simaru is very personal to me. I call it my baby.
Why have you based your business in the north?
One of the best things about being based in the north has been the support from Council. When I initially started the business, I reached out to Mike (from the Stretton Centre business support team) and he was on top of everything. He was giving me updates on things relevant to my business and helping me to expand my networks.
There is also a diverse employment pool which matches nicely with our client base. This really helps as it means that we can provide clients with workers who speak the same language as them. Some people also relate better to younger or older support workers, so that is also something we consider.
What’s your best piece of advice for women in business?
You’ve got to be passionate because there are times where things get really challenging and you feel like you want to quit, but you’ve got to remind yourself why you started and drive yourself to achieve your goals.
The other important thing to do is to reach out. You don’t have to do it alone. There’s so much support available for women in business. Ask someone you know and visit your local council. I’m part of a group called SA Women Australia, which is a great way to build connections and meet some really supportive people.
The theme for international women's day in 2023 is embracing equity. What does equity mean to you?
For me, equity means supporting people according to their needs. It means that we first look at needs and see how we can support you based on this.
We create a personalised care plan to meet every client’s needs. Every individual is unique. So no two care plans are the same.
Do you have a favourite book or podcast which inspires you?
I love ‘Run your business like a boss’ by Kristy Robinson. I’d recommend it to anyone. She has some coaching that you can join, but for now I’m just listening to her podcast. It has some amazing business insights.
My favourite book is probably Becoming by Michelle Obama, but most of the time it’s just podcasts for me.
What piece of advice would you like to give to your earlier self?
Make sure you have a strong LinkedIn presence. When I was starting out, it wasn’t until I started building my profile and sending out connection requests to support coordinators that my business really started to blossom.
I remember one day coming back to my desk and panicking because I had missed a call from a support coordinator I had met on LinkedIn. I thought I’d missed my big break, but when I calmed down and called them, the offer of work was luckily still there. That was my very first client, and I have found so many clients since on LinkedIn.
Why do you enjoy working at the Stretton Centre?
I think it’s the business to business relationships that you can build here which are really valuable. I work directly with Possible Consulting and I get lots of ideas from Cheryl (owner of First Step Solutions). Then there’s Toko’s firm, and Rebecca’s Kaleidoscope Accounting who are right behind me. Even when you do little things like walk over to the printer, conversations can start which benefit your business.
There is also an atmosphere too where you feel like if you’re struggling with something, you can just book a time with anyone in the building, and they’ll happily help you out.