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City celebrates immigrant entrepreneurs at TiECon Canada

November 2, 2018
Announcements and Events

Mayor Jim Watson has recognized six local entrepreneurs for their significant contributions to Ottawa’s economy. The winners were presented with Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards this morning at TiE Ottawa’s annual entrepreneurship conference, TiECon Canada.

The 2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winners are:

  • Raman Agarwal, Akran Marketing
  • James and Donna Baker, Keynote Group
  • Karla Briones, Karla Briones Consulting
  • Hamed Zadeh, SINIX Media Group
  • Huiping Zhang, Wintranslation

The Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, now in its seventh year, celebrates the business success of Ottawa’s immigrant entrepreneurs, rewarding them for their considerable contributions to the local economy. The awards have been presented annually since 2012.


“I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, and thank them for their important contributions to our business community and local economy. They add value to our city in many unique ways, including the development of innovative technologies, the launch of groundbreaking companies, and the creation of new jobs in Ottawa.

It is our hope that these awards inspire other new Canadians to explore entrepreneurship and start their own business. We are working to provide every opportunity for immigrants to succeed and thrive in our welcoming and diverse community.”

Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

Winners’ bios:

Raman Agarwal is the President and CEO of Akran Marketing, which he founded in 1997 to cater to clients across North America in many sectors, including all levels of government, education, oil and gas, finance and sports.

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.

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.

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.

Since its inception, Keynote Group has been awarded Best New Business at the Best of Ottawa Business Awards 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 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 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. 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 is the founder and president of Wintranslation, an award-winning translation company with specialization in Indigenous Languages, such as Cree and Ojibwe. Huiping is a member of Entrepreneurs Organization Ottawa (EO Ottawa), part of a global organization with more than 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.

TiE Ottawa:

TiE Ottawa is the local chapter of TiE, a vast global network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship. TiE Ottawa supports budding entrepreneurs in the National Capital Region through mentorship, networking, education and global connectivity.

TiECon Canada is TiE Ottawa’s flagship conference. It provides an opportunity to learn from leaders and experts and a venue for entrepreneurs, start-ups, subject matter experts, industry veterans, investors, and other members of the Canadian business community to network and build relationships. It attracts more than 400 participants each year, including start-ups, budding and successful entrepreneurs, funding agencies, investors, potential customers and collaborators.

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