The 2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards were presented to six local business people – Raman Agarwal, Donna Baker, James Baker, Karla Briones, Hamed Zadeh and Huiping Zhang – whose business success and spirit have contributed to the local economy and serve as an inspiration to new Canadians to start their own businesses.
The award ceremony was held at the Brookstreet Hotel on November 2, as part of the TiECon Canada (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Conference breakfast. TiE is an international association that has chapters in cities around the world, including Ottawa, which provide a network to help entrepreneurs connect, share leading practices and mentor new entrepreneurs.
A call for nominations for the 2019 Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards has been issued. As the name of the award suggests, we are looking for nominees who embody the entrepreneurial spirit! Do you know an immigrant to Canada who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the Ottawa economy? Nominate them today!
Raman Agarwal, President & CEO, Akran Marketing
Raman Agarwal founded Akran Marketing in 1997 to cater to clients across North America in many sectors, including all levels of government, education, oil and gas, finance, and sports.
Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) honoured Raman with the PPB Best Bosses Award. Raman is an alumnus of Canada's Top 40 Under 40, recognized for running one of Canada’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies by Profit Magazine, and for leading one of the 100 Best Managed Companies by the Financial Post. Akran Marketing was selected by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) as one of the top 50 Best Places to Work (number one in Canada), and honoured by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce as a Mid-Market Company of the Year. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) honoured Akran Marketing with the Torch Award for Marketplace Excellence, in recognition of their superior commitment to exceptional ethical standards.
His innovative ideas have made him a sought-after advisor and mentor by other individuals and organizations. Akran Marketing donates 10 per cent of all net revenues to the Akran Foundation, a non-profit Canadian charity that supports a wide range of charitable initiatives including health, education, environment and community support.
Donna Baker, Managing Partner, and James Baker, CEO, Keynote Group
James and Donna Baker co-founded Keynote Group in 2015 to help organizations find and retain the talent they need to succeed. Keynote has quickly grown to a leading executive search business that combines innovative artificial intelligence, team dynamic analysis and recruiting with dedicated post placement support. In addition, they have created three new business lines, Keynote Recruiter, Keynote HR and Keynote Artificial Intelligence Technology (KAIT).
Since its inception, Keynote Group has been awarded Best New Business at the Best Ottawa Business Awards (BOBs) in 2016, Best New Business by West Ottawa Board of Trade in 2017 and Family Enterprise of the year in 2017. In 2018, the OBJ recognized Keynote as the Fastest Growing Business in Ottawa and Donna was awarded Businesswoman of the Year and joined James in the Forty Under 40 alumni.
The Bakers are active supporters of local community initiatives including the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation and Ottawa Heart Institute.
Karla Briones, Founder, Karla Briones Consulting
Karla Briones is a Mexican-Canadian serial entrepreneur with businesses in retail (Global Pet Foods Kanata and Hintonburg) and the restaurant industry (Freshii Westboro). In her newest venture, Karla Briones Consulting, she coaches new immigrants on how to become successful entrepreneurs in their adopted country. She is in the process of creating a digital platform, New Canadian Entrepreneur, which will house Canadian business environment education, resources and mentorship targeted to newcomers in the pre-arrival, settlement and integration stages. She hosts Immpreneur Canada, a podcast that interviews successful business people that talk about their journeys from immigrants to entrepreneurs.
Karla recently joined the team of independent business advisors at Invest Ottawa - a free service provided to local aspiring and current entrepreneurs needing support. She actively gives back to her community and is a business mentor with Futurpreneur Canada and local community groups.
Hamed Zadeh, CEO, SINIX Media Group
Hamed Zadeh is the owner of SINIX Media Group, which helps clients launch or grow their businesses with high-quality printing solutions, versatile branded displays and elegant LED signage.
In 2010, Hamed co-founded his first company, later rebranded as Ottawa Print Services. As the Chief Executive Officer in 2013, Hamed ventured beyond print services by being first to market in Ottawa with reflective signs for night-time branding. Between 2015-2017, he introduced other signage innovations, a range of corporate promotional products, and custom Canada 150 pins and medals. In 2018, Hamed restructured to launch SINIX Media Group with subsidiaries Ottawa Print Services, MiNiBillboards and SnapLite.
Hamed’s products have been featured at many high-profile events in Ottawa such as the Canadian Tulip Festival, Capital Pride, Glowfair, The Great India Festival, Escapade Music Festival, Ottawa Veg Fest, the Best Ottawa Business Awards, the 2017 JUNO Awards, and the 2017 Grey Cup.
Hamed gives back to the community by hosting regular group meetings to mentor emerging entrepreneurs and help newcomers with language interpretation and cultural integration.
Huiping Zhang, President, wintranslation
Huiping is a member of Entrepreneurs Organization Ottawa, part of a global organization with over 12,000 members. Her community involvement include board positions with the Canadian Language Industry Association and EO Ottawa. She has given many speeches to newcomers to Canada through LASI World Skills and to translation students on building career success.
Economic Development Officer
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1J1
tel:613-580-2424 x 21656