Hope for the Future: The Journey out of Generational Poverty

Image of Nicole Raguette, looking out over a lake

When Nicole lost her full-time warehouse job and her part-time cleaning job in the same week, she didn’t know where to turn.

Thankfully, a few months later, she received an email from a friend asking if she would be interested in cleaning her friend’s house bi-weekly. Things started to fall into place. Weeks later the owner of the home asked if she would be interested in cleaning her two wine bars to assist the regular cleaner. That’s how her company, Royal Ambassador Cleaning, got started.

Nicole completed a program funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Since then, her cleaning business has expanded to include domestic and office cleaning services, post-construction and commercial cleaning, carpet upholstery cleaning, and window cleaning. We spoke to her about her drive, her growing business, her continuing journey to lift herself out of the cycle of generational poverty, and the effect she’s having on her family and community.

Tell me about your business – why did you decide on the cleaning industry?

I chose cleaning because it was something that came naturally to me. I’e always done cleaning for part-time work. My very first job was cleaning, when I was 13 years old. I only came to understand in the past few years that it was a real blessing to have had this cleaning experience.

What’s your favourite thing about your work?

My favourite thing about my work is helping seniors and persons with disabilities. When people have physical restrictions that make it difficult for them to clean their homes the way they would like to, I love to make things shine.

How have things changed since becoming a business owner?

I’m in control of my routine and I appreciate my personal time more. It seems my brain never shuts off! I want to learn more, grow more, and improve my skills more. My visions and dreams of being a “World Changer” are manifesting. Being a business owner has also impacted my family in a positive way. It’s given me the freedom to be available, to be an active parent, and to volunteer sometimes with the schools and the community, like with field trips. Our life has a unique daily structure and it works well for us.

In the community, Royal Ambassador was able to hire a casual employee for one year at a fair living wage and that is a value that I feel very strongly about. That’s why I called the company Royal Ambassador; we’re an Ambassador for the community whether the company has one employee or one thousand employees, a fair living wage is non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter what you pay someone if they can’t pay their bills.

Do you have any advice for women who are interested in starting their own business?

I encourage all entrepreneurs to have a good strong support system. Get ready to climb and, if necessary, move your mountains! Go to Momentum if you’re from Calgary – they’re fantastic at cultivating great business owners and community-leaders, and at merging communities as well as having respect for all cultural values and the environment.

Do you have any words of wisdom for women who are living in poverty or are on a journey out of poverty?

Stay focused; you have a divine destiny and you miss 100% of the shots you do not take. Be willing to take risks. Keep challenging yourself. Know your goals.

How has your own journey out of poverty progressed?

Our journey out of poverty is still a journey. I wish it was so simple. I have learned so many great things and grown so much in strength and humility while going through this process, but not every day has been rosy. We are still facing some challenges, but we’re not where we used to be!

I can tell you that the business has continued to grow and 100% of the business has been by referrals. I’m also encouraged that my family is entering into our last days of generational poverty.

I have come to understand that growing a business is similar to giving birth, and as most of us know pregnancy takes time. The pregnancy of one elephant takes 22 months, and I’m birthing a business that I envision will sustain economic change for generations, so I must do my best to be patient with this process. I’m confident that this vision will manifest and many other lives will benefit from having fair living wages and being a part of a work culture that supports community. We’re here to  assist with more than just a paycheque.

The future goals of Royal Ambassador in 2018 are to focus diligently on the commercial industry by acquiring contracts, so we’ll be a financial pillar for the community. We’ll be able to open doors, and give others the opportunity to have a great job with a living wage. I want to leave this community better than we found it.

I would like to send my heartfelt thanks the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Momentum Calgary for supporting programs that have resulted in life changing transformations. I’d also like to send thanks to my mother and my husband, who listen to all my joys and frustrations, to all of my family, and to my Pastors, Bible and Rebecca Bible-Davids. I am succeeding because you have invested into me and my family.

If you’re a potential client in the Calgary area, you can get in touch with Nicole by emailing royalambassadorps@gmail.com or visiting www.royalambassadorcleaning.com

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