Top 3 Women-owned Immigrant Businesses Breaking Down Barriers in Canada

Did you know that some of the top businesses in Canada are not only owned by women but are either immigrants or of immigrant descent?

One of the top CEOs in Canada breaking ground in the digital and tech sector, Shahrzad Rafati of Broadband TV, is originally from Iran and her business is not only dominating in Canada but on a global scale too. It currently ranks as the third largest video property for digital entertainment, worldwide, after Google and Facebook.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 1,079,000 self employed women in Canada in 2018, 60% of which were unincorporated companies with no employees.

The Canadian government is in support of empowering new businesses, especially those run by female CEOs, supplying 1.4 billion in funding, over 3 years from 2018 to 2020 through the BDC and 200 million in investments to women led technology over 5 years through the BDC’s Women in Technology Fund and 250 million to exporting companies through EDC (Export Development Canada) to support businesses that would contribute to innovation and the development of the Canadian economy.

The government has also created the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to help achieve gender equality by encouraging business leadership among women and promoting an inclusive economy.

Not only is Canada in support of new women-owned businesses but new foriegn businesses too. The Start-up visa program was developed to help immigrant owned business owners and investors immigrate to Canada and get permanent residence.

Do you want to live and work in Canada as a business owner and enjoy the many benefits, such as free healthcare and education, that comes with being a permanent resident in one of the most lucrative and dynamic countries in the world?

For personalized guidance on how to bring your business venture to Canada, simply click the link below or keep reading to find out how you can join some of the top women in business as they make their mark in Canada and how we can help you get there.

Top 3 Immigrant Women CEOs Making Waves in Canada

Shahrzad Rafati Founder and CEO of Broadband TV | live and work in Canada

1. Shahrzad Rafati

Founder & CEO of Broadband TV

Shahrzad Rafati started her company, Broadband TV straight after graduating when online video had not yet taken off. Her digital entertainment company is aimed at connecting content creators , audiences and advertisers, giving them all the resources that they would need to be successful and develop as a brand. Rafati was born in Tehran, but immigrated to British Columbia in her teens. She went on to study in Canada at the University British Columbia and graduated with a BSc in Computer Science. Her company has more than 40% female employees, boasting a 0% gender pay gap. In 2018 she was chosen by Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada) to represent Canada and give advice to global leaders through the Business Women Leaders task force on economic empowerment for women at the G20 summit. She is also a board member for companies such as Hootsuite, Bjarke Angels Group and Vice Chair at Invest in Canada. 

Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro Founder and CEO of My African Corner and The Winning Circle | live and work in Canada

2. Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro

Co-Founder & CEO of My African Corner and Founder of The Winning Circle

Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro is an emerging leader in Canadian business. Her story began when, at age 17, she immigrated to Canada from Lagos Nigeria and found that she couldn’t find anyone to braid her hair. She found it difficult to connect with other Africans who were faced with the same challenges of integrating into Canadian life. This is when The Winning Circle was created, a platform for other African immigrants in Canada to connect and share their discoveries with other millennial peers. When a friend shared a story of an African fashion business in New York, she got the idea to start a networking platform for people of African descent in Canada to share their insights on businesses, events and positive reinforcement across all industries, as well as to provide resources to help grow your own start-up in Canada. This is when My African Corner was born. Today, Ifeanyi-Okoro sits on the advisory board of CPA Ontario and has had a positive impact of not only the growth of start-up immigrant businesses but on changing the perception of people of African descent.

Zahra Al-Harazi Founder and Director of Foundry Communications | live and work in Canada

3. Zahra Al-Harazi

Founder and Director of Foundry Communications

Zahra Al-Harazi is a Yemeni woman taking the Canadian business world by storm. Born in Kampala Uganda, she fled to Yemen as a refugee and later immigrated to Canada in 1996 with her family, where she went on to study at Alberta University of the Arts and attained a Bachelor's Degree in Design in Visual Communications. Her company, Foundry Communications is a successful design studio specialising in brand development, marketing and advertising as well as strategic planning and communication. She has since received various awards including Chatelaine Canadian Woman of the Year, RBC’s Canada’s Most Influential Immigrants as well as receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Al-Haraz is also an advocate for women and children in conflict and works closely with UNICEF and offers pro-bono work to various Canadian not for profit organizations.

Stories such as these are not only testaments to how immigrating to Canada could change your life for the better but how you could have a positive impact in the lives of women and immigrants in the Canadian business sector.

Be the change that you’d like to see in the future by making a change in your own life today.

How Can I Immigrate to Canada as a Business Owner?

start-up visa application and immigrate to Canada to get permanent residence

Are you a new entrepreneur with an innovative idea seeking new prospects, a business owner wanting to set down roots abroad, or investor looking to immigrate to Canada, the Start-up Visa may be just what you're looking for. Canada is constantly looking for great business ventures that will not only help to create jobs but can compete internationally. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify to get permanent residence through the start-up visa:


  • Have a qualifying business;
  • Letter of support from a designated organisation;
  • Meet language requirements(CLB 5 in English or French); and
  • Have enough money to start you new life in Canada.

Although the application process can take anywhere from 12 to 16 months to process your Canadian visa, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary work permit to allow you to go to Canada and get your business off the ground while you are waiting for your permanent residence status to be approved.

Another great feature of this visa is that if, for some reason, your business fails your permanent residence status will not be affected, giving your the freedom and peace of mind to focus your attention on the success of your business without having to worry about whether or not you may have to leave the country if you aren't.

How We Help Bring Your Business Venture to Canada

Navigating the Canadian immigration system can be a bit tedious, with a copious amount of forms and documents to complete and strict submission dates, we wouldn’t blame you if you felt apathetic about getting started on your application. But that's what we’re here for. At Canadian Visa, we take the stress and hassle out of planning to relocate abroad and optimize your chances of success in the visa application process. Our accredited RCICs (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants) are ready to evaluate your eligibility, review all documentation and submit all documentation on your behalf. Using an RCIC not only gives you the best possible chance of receiving an ITA but will make the entire process simple and stress-free.

We handle the paperwork while you fine tune your million dollar business venture to start-up in Canada. All you have to do is complete our online form and we’ll take care of the rest. It's just that simple.