Meet the founder
Rumie began in a rather unlikely place: at a graveyard in Amsterdam.
Let me take a step back and explain the context. I was born and raised in Canada to parents who immigrated from Kenya but are of South Asian descent. When I was very young, during a trip to visit relatives in Kenya I saw firsthand the contrast between the poverty there and my relatively privileged upbringing in North America. And after seeing my uncle, Anjam, denied an education due to a physical handicap (there were no wheelchair-accessible school buses in Nairobi in the 1960s), I became especially passionate about making access to education a basic human right for all.
But after finishing university I got sucked into following the path of so many other graduates: I put my dreams on hold and went to Wall Street instead.
“But once we graduated, we both went back to finance. It was obvious and easy to return to a cushy job, and we honestly believed we would do some good somewhere… someday. Just not yet..”
As the years passed, the itch remained: I wasn’t doing what I really cared about. So I took a year off to do an MBA, and while there I met Michiel Lowenberg, a Dutch classmate who had also worked in finance but shared the same passion for using these skills to improve the world. We became close friends and later on were roommates.
But once we graduated, we both went back to finance. It was obvious and easy to return to a cushy job, and we honestly believed we would do some good somewhere… someday. Just not yet.
Then something changed: in 2010 Michiel was diagnosed with late-stage cancer. When someone close to you goes through a rough period, you often live some of it vicariously through them. And I saw that for Michiel, “someday” was no longer good enough; it was now or never. He started the charity Join for Joy, a wonderful organization that uses play to motivate children to learn – in the very same country where my parents grew up.
While battling stage 4 cancer for two and a half years, Michiel showed me clearly what I too will care about when I know my time is approaching: making a difference.
And so, standing at his grave in Amsterdam in 2013, I decided to follow his example: “someday” would no longer do for me either. I was passionate about a very big problem, I had a very big idea that could provide a game-changing solution, and it was time to stop thinking about it and just jump off the diving board and give it 110%. And so the Rumie story began.
Personally I do this because I’ve been lucky in life – and I know it. And if you’re reading this, chances are so are you. Let’s together build a revolutionary movement to level the playing field for those who are less lucky.