Maryam started by selling objects out of a suitcase on the side of the road.
“Ex-offenders are excellent entrepreneurs. We know how to come up from the trenches. We know how to make something out of nothing. We know how to take a dime and make it a dollar,” she said.
Eventually, Maryam had enough money to set up in her own space. That space has evolved into SisterHearts, a thrift store and housing facility for ex-offenders to transition back into society. It serves as a bridge from incarceration to society.
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In early March 2018, Square CEO Jack Dorsey joined Maryam, Shaka Senghor, Director of Innovation at #Cut50, and Topeka K. Sam, Director of Dignity for Incarcerated Women at #Cut50, in New Orleans to premiere a short film about Maryam and SisterHearts’ inspiring work.
Following the premiere of the film, Jack chatted with Maryam, Topeka, and Shaka about their work aiding previously incarcerated women in the transition back into the economy, the justice system, and more.
“We’re not depending on society to rehabilitate us. We have taken the reins to rehabilitate ourselves. We feel empowered,” said Maryam. “I want all ex-offenders to know they matter. When I was in prison, I set goals for myself. Within three years, I had accomplished every one of my goals. And now I have to set new goals.”