Entrepreneurship has a lot of potential for newcomers who are thinking about an alternative career. However, they may not know how to get started. Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) association leader, Mahboob Bolandi, talks about his journey as an immigrant entrepreneur and why he set up an association to help other immigrant entrepreneurs like him.
While he was growing up, Mahboob was passionate about building things by himself and starting new ideas. “As a kid, I was making my own toys with simple wooden materials,” he recalls. “Then, when I grew up, I was passionate about creating new groups; a new sports team, study group, etc. Leading these groups gave me the opportunity to implement my ideas and being able to achieve tangible results gave me great satisfaction.”
After finishing school and working at an engineering firm, Mahboob decided to venture into entrepreneurship. He completed the Entrepreneurship Connections program at ACCES Employment and then founded Texers Technical Ceramic in 2014. As an immigrant himself, Mahboob witnessed first-hand the challenges skilled immigrants face when starting a business. “Many immigrants have brilliant business ideas, but lack knowledge about where to start. Some may have the knowledge, but need financial support,” he explained. “On the other hand, there are also many people, including skilled immigrants, who have the financial resources and are just looking for ideas to invest in.”
Mahboob also points out that there is support for immigrants who want to pursue entrepreneurship. “Many immigrants start their own business because they can’t find meaningful employment in their desired career,” he said. “In this case, the role of organizations like MaRS becomes crucial in providing the required support.” Attending TRIEC’s Networking Start-Ups event as a panelist, he saw the passion that immigrant professionals have about their business ideas. “They just needed a little push to start their own business,” he recalled.
With the aim of connecting immigrant entrepreneurs in the community, Mahboob launched his own professional entrepreneurial network, Karafarin Canada, in early 2016. The network provides resources and support to aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Immigrant entrepreneurs can grow their professional network, find a co-founder to start their business with and attend workshops and clinics. Karafarin also hires professionals for its mentoring programs in different fields such as Business Planning, Finance, Human Resources and IT. Mahboob is also planning to host professional events in major Canadian cities to connect immigrant entrepreneurs nationwide.
For aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs, Mahboob says that balance between gathering information and making professional connections to gain that first-hand knowledge is essential. “Studying and gathering information is important, but making connections with other entrepreneurs will inform them about others’ mistakes, and how not to make them,” he advised. “Above all, they have to be persistent in their ambition. There are always ups and downs, but they need to be focused, and keep going.
If you would like to learn more about the resources and supports available, please visit our Immigrant Entrepreneurs page