July 14, 2017 | last updated July 14, 2017 3:25 pm
40 Under Forty 2017

Ojala Naeem

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed

Age: 26

Company: reSET

Title: Managing Director

Town where I live: Waterbury

Town where I work: Hartford

College: Fordham University

Fun Fact

I'm the eldest of four girls and 26 grandchildren. I like to think that kicked my sense of responsibility and leadership into gear!


What do you do in your current job? At reSET, I work with entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and ages to develop viable and scalable business models, many of which have a positive social or environmental impact. As part of the Greater Hartford business community, I'm helping build an impact ecosystem by ensuring there are competitive resources available to startups.

What are your goals in your current job? My goal is to foster an environment of social innovation and entrepreneurship that will support talent retention in the region, while simultaneously generating more revenue, jobs and investment.

What's your biggest passion? Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge advocate of Hartford. As someone who grew up in Connecticut, left for college and returned to the region after graduation, I see the amazing opportunity our state has to be a more desirable place for business and the next generation. But unlike many other cities that have experienced periods of great growth at the expense of some long-time residents and businesses, I really want to see Hartford bring prosperity for all.

What are your future professional aspirations? I see me always working to strengthen Greater Hartford's economic stability through innovative solutions for our many challenges. I'd be particularly grateful for an opportunity to take on the issue of economic hardship with and for our underserved communities.

How are you involved in the community? I serve on the board of directors for Compass Youth Collaborative, an amazing organization working on youth development here in Hartford. I'm also on the governance committee for Innovation Places for Hartford, an initiative focused on increasing the city's economic viability through innovation and entrepreneurship.

What do you hope Greater Hartford will be like in 10 years? Ten years from now, I want the Hartford region to be thriving, with diversity in the scale and impact of business. I want to see more non-traditional entrepreneurs solving our problems through innovative business solutions. I want to see more opportunities for early stage entrepreneurs, as well as a consistent pipeline of business ideas.

Hartford also needs to be known for encouraging collaboration between its local entities, both small and large. The more we all work on strengthening our relationships with like-minded organizations, the more meaningful services and programs we can provide to the greatest number and range of people.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty: I produced Impact Fest Hartford in collaboration with Public Allies; this was an event focused on providing exposure to Hartford's arts community and business resources. I have taken steps to reduce barriers to entrepreneurship for the surrounding Hartford community by adopting policies that have made reSET's service more accessible and affordable. Through my leadership and dedication to entrepreneurship in Hartford, I have ascended from program associate to managing director at reSET in five years. Alongside my colleagues, I supported the passage of benefit corporation legislation in Connecticut.

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