|When Hicham “Hitch” Larhnimi first came to the United Stated, as a tennis playing scholarship student in San Francisco, he never thought that he would become the Vice President of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in South Florida, neither did he believe that he was going to start his own company six years later. I had the opportunity to speak to this successful entrepreneur and to hear his story about his journey, from being a 20-year-old “enjoyer of life” in San Francisco, to the hard-working Swedish General Manager of the ride-hailing company “Heetch”. Hicham is a person that chases new challenges and he believes that there is always a solution to any problem. He gets energy and fuel from accomplishing what people think is impossible. In addition, he gets energy from positive people around him, and Hitch explains that “It is important to listen to other and to reach out for help and input to improve yourself and grow as a person”. When I ask him to describe Hitch by using one word, he laugh and says that most people would describe him as an entrepreneur. However, he would rather refer to himself as an “Optimist.”
Initially when Hitch came to the United States he just wanted to play tennis and live the good life in San Francisco, but he realized after getting involved in the community life on campus, that he wanted to be part of something bigger. He wanted to make a difference and he discovered that he actually had the ability to do so. At his college in San Francisco he was part of starting the organization “Brother to Brother”, to help young people get a second chance for education, it could be individuals from: juvenile detention or young adults sorting out their lives. During his time with ”Brother to Brother”, he found it amazing how people could get so strong from building communities. After his time in San Francisco, he moved to Florida where he started his bachelors in communication and marketing at St. Thomas University in Miami. At first he disliked Miami because it was hard to understand people’s values and the culture was so different from Sweden. However, once he got involved in the Swedish-Florida community through the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) and engaged more with local people in the area, he started to get a deeper understanding for the culture and mindset in south Florida. At the end of his time in Florida, he found the people to be truly inspiring and great fellow beings. Hitch got involved with SACC through a friend that he went to school with. At first he did not want to get involved because he was so busy with school. But after meeting the president of SACC, he was hooked. While studying, he was also playing competitive tennis, working as a residential assistance at St. Thomas, working with SACC and had time to found a company with a friend. It was a couple of busy years but Hitch believes that it was the most valuable years of his life.
During his time at SACC he learned that networking is important and that there are many different ways to network. To be a good networker, Hitch recommend you to; “Follow up, listen and remember peoples name”
Hitch accomplished a lot with SACC and the Swedish community in South Florida. He initiated the annual fireball event that SACC is hosting together with the other Swedish organizations in South Florida. He pushed for a greater collaboration among the Swedish organizations which resulted in the solid Swedish community that we are so proud off today. Hitch is forever thankful for the responsibility and the flexibility that SACC-SFL entrusted him. He always felt the chamber supported him and even though he was a young student, he always felt respected among the other chamber representatives. Hitch believes that the reason why his current employer believes in him, is much thanks to the knowledge and experience he received from SACC. Hitch would recommend every student to get as involved as you can in your community. There is no “I do not have the time” – you can always make time! You should really take advantage of all the opportunities that comes with being a student. Even though it is scary and unfamiliar to reach out to people, you learn so much from it and this is the time to do it! If you show interest in people and if you listen to people, they will remember you and that is how you create valuable connections.
“It is not the smartest, it is not the strongest, it is the most adaptable one that survives.”
Hitch ability to act on opportunities has taken him to the current position as General Manager at “Heetch” and we all look forward to following his future journey.
Author: Malin Karlsson, Marketing/Operations Intern, Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Fort Lauderdale & Palm Beach