5 Immigrant Entrepreneurs That Made it in Canada
Setting up and finding your footing in every foreign country is not a simple feat, let alone launching your own profitable company in that specific country. However, Canada is considered to be particularly friendly to refugees and newcomers, giving them an opportunity for a better life and encouraging them to achieve their own potential. Here’s a look at five Canadian immigrants who took advantage of this chance and sought to build thriving business projects that are a source of pride and inspiration to other aspiring Canadian immigrant entrepreneurs.
1. Gabriela Moreno, born in Mexico.
Born in León, Mexico, Gabriela Moreno moved to Montreal at the age of 18 to study French at Concordia University. After graduation, she continued her lifelong dream of joining the fashion industry and enrolled at the Montreal Academy of Design and Technology. “Design was something I was really passionate about, it was the only race I wanted to do,” he says confidently.
She recounts her relentless nature as the character trait that got her to where she is today, and in reality, in 2011, she began with Gabriela Moreno Pro Designs, a company that produces swimwear from stretch fabrics and has created quite a stir in the Canadian Swimwear Industry.
All of the swimwear items are manufactured in Canada, and she hopes to open a bigger factory and provide opportunities for her fellow refugees, and although she works 80 hours a week, she’s proud of what she’s done and excited about what she’s waiting for. At the beginning of 2016, her company featured on a CBS entrepreneur television show that introduced her to Canada’s richest industry investors. Later it reached an agreement with Amazon.
She has recently started supplying stock to four boutiques in Quebec and is set to showcase her talents at Miami Fashion Week later this year. Gabriela Moreno has advice for other immigrants in Canada, especially women, to believe in themselves and work hard, citing the stable economy in Canada as one of the reasons why companies will continue to flourish.
2. Franck Ndayubashe from Burundi
Franck Ndayubashe escaped the civil war in Burundi East Africa at the age of 14 and moved to Montreal, Canada to stay with his older brother. Although French is his mother tongue, Franck decided to leave Quebec to study at the University of Winnipeg, as he wanted a quiet place with fewer distractions to focus on his studies. He always had the ambition of one day opening his own business, so he specialized in business administration.
Ndayubashe is a classy person and has a penchant for wearing bow ties and hats, so one day she came up with the idea of using wood to create accessories like sunglasses and bow ties. He was working for an insurance broker to gain experience, but he couldn’t ignore his business idea, and in 2012 he opened Off the Wood. Off the Wood produces and sells wooden bow ties, sunglasses, and other accessories made from different types of wood. He had a carpenter friend from Quebec with whom he contacted and is now a business partner that manufactures accessories.
He advises other immigrants to never be afraid and chase their dreams and business ideas and to use multiculturalism in Canada to mix and make friends from other countries, learn their culture and have a different perspective on the world.
Franck has an ambition to open stores and branches worldwide, including in his home country, where there is now peace, to empower other young people and create jobs.
3. Mohamad Fakih from Lebanon
Mohamad Fakih is from Lebanon and moved to Canada at the age of 26, who trained in gemology and worked as a jeweler. He was invited to Canada by a friend from his hometown and was immediately drawn to Canada’s multiculturalism. As someone who believes in seizing opportunities when they arise, he recognized Canada as a country full of opportunities.
Mohamad Fakih’s story is fascinating and motivating. One day, while walking through the City Mall in Ottawa, he stopped by a jewelry store. He came in and asked the owner if he could help out for free, just to get busy while looking for something to do, the store owner duly accepted his offer and shortly afterwards asked him to stay on as a full-time employee. Within a year, he was the store’s sales manager and had a dream to build his own business, Fakih found a partner and soon opened his own jewelry boutiques.
Fakih’s business portfolio has continued to grow by leaps and bounds since then, he now owns Paramount Fine Foods, a Middle Eastern restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine. With a successful franchise model, Paramount Fine Foods is expected to have 55 locations by the end of 2016, not only in Canada but also in the United States, Pakistan, and England.
Lamenting the trend of many newcomers arriving in Canada with the feeling that they have one leg in Canada and one leg in their home country, he says that immigrants can achieve the success they have had simply by feeling that this country is theirs. Take responsibility for your future and take advantage of the countless opportunities found in the country.
4. Eddie Lee from Korea
Korean-born Eddie Lee is living proof that hard work and dedication can succeed. Born and raised in the Gangnam district of Soul, he left home at the age of 19 with only $ 400 in his pocket, a gift from his grandmother, arriving in Toronto with a fierce determination to make a better life for himself.
Despite having a scholarship to study Marketing at the University of Toronto, Lee washed the dishes in a restaurant and had to work day and night to survive. Upon completion of his career, Lee landed a job at ESS Foods in Toronto, a small company that imported food and wine products. He still harbored ambitions of owning his own business and being 5 feet 6 inches tall, Lee and many other Korean friends often teased him for being short. This sparked an idea in him and he started to think of shoe ideas. Lee shared his ideas with a friend from college who worked in a shoe factory and was excited, together they partnered to produce men’s shoes that increase height.
They called their company “Insolito Terra” (in Italian, for its unusual terrain), it says that it is a product that gives men confidence and makes an ordinary man look like a GQ model. From the outside, the shoe looks like it has a 1.2-inch heel, however the interior has a cushion that gives the user an additional 1.4 inches.
He encourages all immigrants to try their luck in business and be proud to live in Canada, but to maintain their cultural integrity.
5. Kiran Dhaliwal from India
Pizza Master Fusion is a pizzeria in Calgary that serves baked dough with cheese and inspirational portions, is owned by a very capable quadriplegic woman of immigrant origin, who did not allow her physical problems to prevent her from reaching her goals. .
Dhaliwal, 39, is an IT professional from Ludhiana, India. He previously worked with oil and gas companies as a software specialist, but left the job to work on his dream of opening his own business, then opened Pizza Master Fusion. The popular store now even has famous customers, as well as the current mayor of Calgary.
Kiran normally runs her business despite her “restrictive” skills, connecting the entire store to be managed in her home, which she shares with her husband for 12 years, and has a specially developed POS system.
She has plans to open another store in the Sage Hills community in northwest Calgary, where the concept is to offer 6 delicious and varied flavors. The plan is to open during the summer.
Canada continues to host immigrants each year and its success stories are numerous and often inspiring. There has never been a better time to move to Canada and perhaps you too can fulfill your dreams and potential.