Ottawa

Immigrant Entrepreneur Award recipients help more than business community

The City of Ottawa honoured three people who run successful businesses and give back to the community during its fourth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Friday morning.

3 winners honoured for business, community success in Kanata Friday morning

The 2015 City of Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards were given out Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The three winners are Moe Abbas (second from left) Maria Rasouli (white shirt, middle) and Nishith Goel (third from right). (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The City of Ottawa honoured three people who run successful businesses and give back to the community during its fourth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Friday morning.

Nishith Goel is a 2015 Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winner. (CBC)

Moe Abbas, Nishith Goel and Maria Rasouli were given their awards as people born outside of Canada that moved to Ottawa and have become involved in the city's business community, as well as for their fundraising, mentorship and volunteerism.

Both Abbas, who founded Ottawa General Contractors and more recently the Bumpn app, and Cistel Technology CEO Goel said Canada is a good country to move to and do business in, but Ottawa is an especially great city for entrepreneurs.

Moe Abbas is a 2015 Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winner. (CBC)

"It's a very stable economy… there's a lot of support from the government and the city, there's a lot of opportunity," Abbas said.

"It's a really great place to start a business and from an incubation standpoint there's not very many better places I would say." 

"It has a critical mass of a very skilled workforce available, the environment is good, it's a good living place, a good place to raise family, so in that sense it's a good place to come and do business," Goel said.

Winner rediscovered love of cycling lost in Iran

Rasouli, who founded Ottawa's Escape Bike Tours, said the city is a "paradise for cycling" that inspired something in her she hadn't felt since her childhood in Iran.

"I was a little girl in Iran who loved to cycle then at the age of 11 I was told that I'm a woman and I can't bicycle anymore, so when I came to Canada at the age of 24 I regained the freedom to bicycle," she said.

Maria Rasouli is a 2015 Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winner. (CBC)

"I thought this is what I want to do for my career, to bring people bicycling — something that had been taken away from me for many, many years."

Rasouli said she gives back by helping newcomers with networking and public speaking, along with doing some fundraising tours for charity.

Abbas said he mentors younger entrepreneurs who are looking for someone who isn't too much older than him but who still has some experience, while Goel has served on boards including the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation and the Indo-Canada Ottawa Business Chamber.

The trio were given their awards during the TiECon Canada conference at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.

TiE Ottawa is a chapter of an international organization that helps entrepreneurs network and gives mentorship opportunities for people starting their own business.

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