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Women entrepreneurs take the stage

PARO's Centre for Women's Enterprise held their annual Enterprising Women's event at the Victoria Inn Thursday.
Zahra AlHazari
Keynote speaker Zahra Al-Hazari gave an inspiring keynote address during the annual Enterprising Women's event.

THUNDER BAY – For many years Zahra Al-Harazi has been inspiring women to pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs.

Al-Harazi’s inspiring keynote address sent a powerful message to women of all backgrounds and ethnicities regarding real-world lessons entrepreneurs must master.

During the annual Enterprising Women Take Centre Stage event on Thursday, Al-Harazi spoke about finding the opportunities to build the strength in yourself to start a company.

“There was so many opportunities,” Al-Harazi said. “I was so blessed to have come to Canada instead of a different country, because I think every step of the way there was somebody there to teach me something or open a door for me.”

Al-Harazi believes she wouldn’t have found the same level of success in any other country.

According to Al-Harazi, mentoring plays an important role when it comes to the success of many entrepreneurs. Mentorship, according to Al-Harazi is all about listening and offering shared experiences, while also opening new doors. 

“Mentorship is huge, I always say I don’t have one mentor I have 50,” Al-Harazi said.

“It’s because I have different mentors for different things – so I tap into these resources and I do a lot of mentoring myself, I try to give back because I have received so much of that in my time.”

PARO Centre executive director Rosalind Lockyer agrees that mentorship is one of the most crucial aspects for the success of any entrepreneur.

“PARO has 83 peer lending circles across northern Ontario, and that’s what (PARO’s) all about,” Lockyer said.

“We provide grants and loans for the women in those circles, but I think the most important part of being a peer circle member is taking advantage of the support.”

Lockyer said peer circles provide an opportunity to talk about the details of your business and your life with those who share the same passion.

“We’ve always believed that the mentoring component is crucial to growing a strong business.”

Al-Harazi said events like Women Take Centre Stage also provide key supports for up and coming entrepreneurs.

“Having that peer support of people that are going through the same thing, that are facing the same challenges, that might have something to share with you or guide you alone the way is phenomenal,” she said.

“What PARO Centre is doing with the grants and the opportunities, it’s heartwarming to see.”

Al-Harazi said she was thrilled to see a lot of women opening up and asking questions and sharing their stories.

“If one women walks away inspired I feel that I have had a very successful day.”

The Enterprising Women Take Centre Stage event provided women with the opportunity to share stores, participate in workshops as well as a speed mentoring session where eleven topics where covered ranging from technology to budgeting and branding.

The enterprising women of Northwestern Ontario will take centre stage at the Enterprising Women Awards Gala and Dinner Thursday evening.

Nicole Dixon

About the Author: Nicole Dixon

Born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Nicole moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2008 to pursue a career in journalism. Nicole joined in 2015 as a multimedia producer, content developer and reporter.
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