- Kumba Saho’s entrepreneurial spirit developed early and traveled with her when she emigrated from Gambia in 1999.
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When Kumba Saho moved from Gambia to the United States in 1999, she carried more than her suitcase. She brought with her an indomitable spirit and a desire to serve.
Through Integrity Solutions Services in Harrisburg, she brings a ray of hope and hands-on assistance to seniors and those with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Her broad spectrum of assistance includes ensuring that her clients receive compassionate home care, workforce placement, and essential respite services.
From adversity to innovation
Kumba’s arrival in the U.S. was riddled with challenges and she struggled to find a job. Despite having a degree from a South African university and having worked for years in family businesses and with the visually impaired in Gambia, it was difficult for her to find her footing in this country.
“Once I was here, I tried to find a job, even a waitress job,” she says. “I couldn’t get any. The U.S. is a country, I found, where if you don’t have any experience here, it is a problem for you to get employed.”
Adversity often inspires innovation. Kumba’s tenacity led her to volunteer with a vision-related organization. After months of working without pay, she found a job in retail before becoming a program coordinator at an area nonprofit.
But the drive to launch a business continued to pull at her.
Kumba had grown up in a business-minded family in the Gambia. Her mother operated a retail store and her father a contracting company. As a girl, she would assist her parents, preparing invoices and helping with the businesses.
In 2003, Kumba started a clothing shop in Harrisburg. For nearly a decade, she sold clothes out of a flea market stand in Middletown, then a retail shop on 3rd Street, Harrisburg, before moving the store to her home when her daughter was born.
A change inspired by caring for a friend
Kumba found her real business niche when she started working in human services in 2017. She provided transportation company in which she partnered with a friend. Kumba also opened another business where she served as service coordination entity. She then open the home care agency, supported employment services – providing employment services to include job finding, job coaching, etc. It was a move driven by the experience of caring for a friend.
From 2005 until 2018, Kumba was a primary caregiver for her friend Julia, a military veteran. She would visit Julia in her home, drive her to her appointments to the VA in Lebanon, dialysis clinic, and check on her at the hospital after Julia had a stroke. Kumba and her family stayed with Julia through her final hours.
“That experience inspired me to want to do that for other families,” Kumba says.
For three years, Kumba provided human services to her clients with passion and compassion. Then, in an unexpected turn of events resulting from changes to Medicare, Kumba lost most of her clients to large medical providers. By the end of 2020, only two of Kumba’s clients remained with her.
“I went through hell financially,” she says.
Integrity Solutions Services
With two decades of entrepreneurial resilience under her belt, Kumba wasn’t about to give up. She pivoted yet again and applied for a license to provide home care services.
From that step was born Integrity Solutions Services.
“We assist individuals with disabilities to find jobs. We provide respite services for families,” Kumba says.
Through launching and operating businesses, Kumba has experienced a journey of personal growth. Once a shy individual unable to land a job and trying to hide her Gambian accent, she now stands confident, regularly addressing public gatherings with ease. With the ability to adapt and a compassionate heart, Kumba has found that there’s no challenge too big to overcome.