Orla Abrahams and Abrahams Industrial Minerals Inc.: A Journey of Growth and Giving Back

  • Published on:
    June 6, 2023
  • Reading time by:
    6 minutes
Orla Abrahams, Founder & CEO Of Abrahams Industrial Minerals Inc.

What’s new in the world of Orla Abrahams? A lot has changed in the past two years for this determined powerhouse. As the mastermind behind Abrahams Industrial Minerals Inc. (AIM), she has been steadily working towards her goal of taking the company international. With a recent project abroad and a burning desire to expand globally, Orla’s entrepreneurial journey is nothing short of exhilarating. But what sets her apart is her newfound perspective on life, where success is measured not by material possessions but by giving back and being of service to others. In this article, we delve into Orla’s remarkable transformation, her philanthropic endeavors, and the challenges she faced while starting AIM. Get ready to be inspired by the trailblazing boss who is redefining success and making a lasting impact.

What’s new? What has changed in the past two years?

I’ve steadily been working on Abrahams Industrial Minerals inc. (AIM), I recently visited a project abroad, my intent is to take Abrahams Industrial Minerals Inc. international. It’s a really exciting venture and there is a wonderful opportunity to work with the local community too. 

The biggest change has been how I measure my life today. For a few years money and material objects were what drove me. Material objects/money is just a way of keeping score (don’t get me wrong I love beautiful things) but how I measure my life today isn’t what’s in my bank account nor in my closest but how I can give back and be of service to others. 

Over the years, I’ve had so many people help me, uplift me and guide me without the expectation of getting anything in return. Giving selflessly is at the center of my life today. I setup a foundation, The D6 Foundation with the mission to IGNITE and help uplift those who are in need of financial aid in South Africa to cover tuition fees. In the USA one begins to think about education costs after high school. From the age of seven parents need to start paying school fees. This is to attend a public school, many families do not have the means, it can cost anywhere from $500 – over $1000 a year. The average salary in South Africa is between $24000 a year but can go as low as $12000 a year, government assistant is rare. 

I had my first fundraiser in January 2023 with all the donations received, the cost of tuition for the year has been covered for two participants. Without the help and kindness of others it simply wouldn’t have been possible.

Along with that I am working on a program with my brothers Sean and Ruairi. Sean works at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Sean with a focus in positive psychology he is currently working on his PHD in education. Ruairi works in the film and media he has 15 years’ experience; his creative expertise will aid me in bringing the D6 Foundation to greater heights. We are working towards a program to help ignite and give light to underserved communities in the USA. 

I am also working on a program for women, a design for living and core principles to live by which will help one navigate through life. There is so much out there to help empower women, but the question I always asked is HOW? It’s not enough for me to say I want to empower women without taking action. 

That action comes through sharing my own experiences and how I’ve overcome many obstacles. I had a core group of women years ago who showed me what it was to live, it’s a broad statement, but they shared on their experiences, their challenges and how they overcame these hurdles. They weren’t given the answers, they weren’t told what they should or shouldn’t do they were shown through example and taking action. These incredible tools were passed onto me. It was introspective work, which required me to be honest with myself and take a look in the mirror. No matter a person’s background, the life they’ve walked, what they’ve been through we as women can learn, help each other and ignite one another. 

Last by no means least, a friend asked me to become a partner in her business, Sencilla deodorant. Ginger saw her mother battle breast cancer and bone cancer which ultimately took her life. Marilyn was a strong healthy woman who ran marathons, climbed and ran mountains. Ginger remembers her mother telling her to never put chemicals in or on her body. This inspired Ginger to create Sencilla an aluminum, sulphate and paraben free deodorant which is clean, simple and incredibly effective. It’s an honor to be apart of a business that has a deeper meaning. As we continue to develop the business, I have no doubt that we will take Sencilla to new heights. www.sencilladeodorant.com 

Can you tell us about your experience working for a junior mining company in the USA and how it prepared you start your own company?

Learning about the ins and outs of a junior minor company was fundamental to starting Abrahams Industrial Minerals inc., I wanted to learn and understand every aspect. I learnt from the ground up. I was in a position whereby I got to thoroughly understand the back office, budgeting, spending and planning for a project. I loved going underground to see the inner workings of the mine, speaking to the miners one of which had forty years mining experience. The site manager and engineer gave me a huge amount of time and never minded explaining everything to me. No matter how silly the question, he always had an answer. 

How did living in various countries shape your approach to business and entrepreneurialism?

I’ve been fortunate over the years to being surrounded by some really exceptional people.  No matter how much money they were making, from the mother who needs to provide for her children working several jobs with the dream of starting her own business to the billionaire who doesn’t think twice about money. They all had something that I wanted, determination, tenacity and the work ethic not to ever give up. It’s women who face personal challenges, be it mentally, emotionally, financially that keep me inspired. They constantly strive for greatness and I believe every one of them to be a huge success. The established business owners have shared their pearls of wisdom and given me their time. Years ago, I sat with the question what is the key to success? 

Life was pretty turbulent for a number of years, I deemed myself as a failure and struggled internally, I lived out of my car for a period of time. I found it easy to think of everything I didn’t have, however I put my feet to the ground and worked those twelve hour shifts often seven days at a time. It put food in my belly and a temporary roof over my head. I lived with immense gratitude; I had all my needs met. It dawned on me that success isn’t what we as a society believe it to be. It isn’t how much money you make, what’s in your closest, or the car you drive. 

Success to me is living each day with gratitude, love and purpose, which at times may seem unfathomable. Taking the time to listen to other people stories is what has driven me and continues to do so. The story of the young kid who doesn’t have the money to study at an IVY league school, is thinking of giving up on that dream but wants to figure out a way, speaking to the mother who had to leave her family and work abroad so she can provide for them. Listening to the recovering alcoholic who feels lost, alone but has hope. The mother whose business is so wildly successful she doesn’t have time for her children. The billionaire who wants a family but is so invested in his company he isn’t able to give up the reigns. All of these interactions have opened my eyes and aided me in how I approach business, but more importantly life.

It isn’t just about how much money you make, which seems counterintuitive, being willing to do the work, taking that idea or dream and bringing it to life. Not being married to that one idea has helped me in business. Your idea and business will evolve and may be something completely different to what you initially started with. 

 I mentioned about leveling one’s expectations, this where it’s been key for me to not beat myself up and revert back to the old way of thinking. The chances of a new business being an overnight success is slim, I don’t want to discourage anyone as it is possible. However, I have a clear understanding that it takes time, much the same as building a house. It’s one block at a time. I’ve learnt to be realistic in my goals but that does not stop me dreaming and working towards hitting those homeruns.

 If you’re impatient like myself, it can be a little difficult as I sometimes want to fast track things, but the reality is if I stick with it and work on it bit by bit, the results will show. My approach to business today is simple, do the work even if it’s for a few minutes a day, listen to other peoples’ stories, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help and know that there is a solution. 

How has this changed your life?

My mindset has evolved, I like to live in a place of growth. Being able to identify things within myself and taking action is a key part of my life. Taking ownership and accountability for my own actions is of the utmost importance to me. My thinking, my attitude and my actions is all on me, I have zero control over what others do or say. However, how I react is within my control. Putting in the work every day is fundamental. Leveling my expectations is something I can apply to business. I don’t always get things right but it’s progress not perfection. 

Can you talk about any challenges you faced while starting AIM and how you overcame them?

ME, I was the challenge. My old way of thinking kicked in and my fears of not being smart enough, capable, not having a list of credentials often left me on shaky ground. How would anyone ever take me seriously? Are people going to judge me? I’m probably going to fail so why even start… These were the voices I heard constantly. How could Orla be the CEO of a company? 

All of the above is true and real however, I learnt that how others perceive me, what others think of me and ultimately whether they believe in me or not is something I don’t have control over.

 I spent years consumed by how others perceived me that I didn’t know who Orla was. It was through working with women that I learnt how to get out of my head space. When you’re helping others without the expectation of receiving, one doesn’t have time to think about their own selfish thoughts and fears. To this day when I feel a negative emotion wash over me, I absolutely have to get into action whether it be writing a gratitude list, taking a moment or a few hours to do something that brings me pure joy (painting), or simply picking up the phone and calling someone to see how they are doing and not making it about myself.

When I started AIM, I was completely overwhelmed, I had a million thoughts and ideas. First, things first I wrote a list of what needed to be done. I had never setup a company. I read that there were third party services that I could use to register with the state etc. It took me about 3 days to figure out how to file with the state to register a corporation. Every time I submitted my articles of organization the state would tell me something was wrong and bounce it back to me. It was frustrating, I googled everything and eventually AIM was formed. 

I read as much as I could and listened to industry experts, surrounded myself with people who knew how. That was one of the great benefits of working for a junior mining company, I was tapped into industry experts and some of the world’s best mining companies. 

How does AIM plan to continue to grow and expand in the future?

Recently I got connected with some phenomenal women in the mining industry, one of which has thirty plus years in the industry. I am hoping to partner with her to start making some educational videos about mining. As there is a lack of understanding and knowledge for the general public. The mining industry is a fundamental part to our day-to-day life. The phone that you have your hand, there are components in there that have been mined. The makeup and face cream that you use, the minerals have been mined. Your car, your handbag, jewelry the list is endless components have been mined. AIM continues to move in a direction whereby we limit the impact that we have on the environment, we will be focusing on reclamation and rehab projects (clean up) which date back fifty plus years. 

We will also be diversifying and moving into rhyolite mining, rhyolite is a major component of cat litter and is used as an industrial absorbent. Lastly, we will be taking AIM international.

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