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EO 360°, a podcast by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, explores entrepreneurship with a wide perspective, moving beyond business to those insights not often shared by high-profile thought leaders.

Host and serial entrepreneur, Dave Will, leads in-depth interviews, whose featured guests include: Gazelles founder and CEO, Verne Harnish; popular podcast host and founder of Genius Network, Joe Polish; award-winning entrepreneur, Zahra Al-Harazi; and more. Tune into this top podcast made by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.

Learn more about Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the leading peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs.

Jun 29, 2016

In this episode, Dave interviews Zahra Al-Harazi: knock-out entrepreneur, designer, UN ambassador, philanthropist, speaker, and one of the most powerful women in Canada. Zahra’s family fled civil war in Uganda when she was a child. She grew up in Yemen and married at age 17 - since then she’s grown in power, confidence, and independence to become a truly exceptional entrepreneur and influencer. Listen in to hear Zarah’s story - from selling goods at the local mall to clearing over $1 million in her company’s first year. You’ll learn how she’s created a life, and lifetime’s work, that she’s proud of.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:43 – Introducing Zahra
  • 02:15 – Zahra’s early life in Yemen after her family fled civil war in Uganda
  • 03:00 – Zahra speaks 5 languages and has travelled to multiple countries
  • 04:40 – Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world
  • 06:15 – About 80% of the women in Yemen are illiterate
  • 07:30 – “Yemen is a lot more advanced for women than Saudi Arabia”
  • 08:00 – “My mother was one of the first women in Yemen to drive’
  • 08:30 – Cultural change is difficult - but attempts are growing
  • 09:42 – Zahra’s parents were forced to leave Uganda with nothing except $7
  • 10:42 – Zahra’s father was one of the few people in Yemen to have a university degree - so he became the Minister for Finance and a delegate to the World Bank
  • 11:50 – Her mother worked for the United Nations and the American Embassy
  • 12:36 – Her parents now live in Canada
  • 13:40 – Zahra got into a lot of trouble at school in Yemen
  • 14:55 – “We spoke English at Yemeni school I had to learn Arabic really fast”
  • 17:09 – “When I was younger, I wanted to blend into the walls”
  • 17:34 – “I changed my accent, I changed the way I dressed, I changed the way I thought, I did everything I was supposed to...and I hated it”
  • 18:16 – The best lesson Zahra ever learned was that what made her different, made her interesting
  • 19:05 – Zahra married when she was 17 and moved to the USA when she was 18
  • 19:55 – She went to community college to learn to be a secretary, made friends, and went to rock concerts
  • 21:30 – After one year, Zahra’s ex-husband wanted her to settle down
  • 22:55 – “After my husband finished college we went to Dallas...everyone in Dallas thought I was Mexican”
  • 24:27 – “I was so naive - I never thought I’d be in business, I never even thought I’d graduate university”
  • 25:20 – Zahra and her husband moved back to Yemen for 2 years. She tried to work as teacher and faced constant sexism.
  • 27:30 – She moved her family to Canada after the Yemeni civil war. She started working and taking art classes and ended up falling in love with graphic design
  • 28:55 – Zarah’s children don’t know a lot of her story
  • 30:08 – On leaving her husband “I needed to be independent...but you feel like the shittiest person in the world”
  • 31:12 – On sales: “I’d never really had a space that was mine, and mine alone. I started to believe in my abilities”
  • 34:30 – The moment Zahra received her acceptance letter to graphic design school
  • 36:30 – Zahra found work straight out of school and was later hired by the biggest design company in Calgary, where she became the head of the design department
  • 38:57 – “I learned early on to ask for help”
  • 39:54 – She founded Foundry Communications in 2006
  • 41:34 – “The second month in business, we pitched for a pretty prestigious vacation guide”
  • 42:17 – Without a sales team or advertising, Foundry made $1 million in their first year
  • 44:20 – Right now, Zahra’s less focused on her company and more focused on non-profit work
  • 45:00 – “I wanted to make a difference”
  • 45:27 – She was on the national board of the Make A Wish Foundation and works for UNICEF
  • 46:07 – Zahra’s working with a ghostwriter on her first book
  • 47:40 – Understanding a person’s context changes how you see them
  • 48:40 – Zahra’s starting two new companies right now
  • 50:44 – Connect with Zarah at Foundry Communications
  • 53:18 – Zarah’s the new Canadian ambassador to UNICEF
  • 54:50 – “I’m very dissatisfied with just being an entrepreneur. I want to do something in life that makes me proud.”


3 Key Points:

  1. Business isn’t everything. Find a use for your life that makes you proud.
  2. Celebrate what makes you different.
  3. Give yourself time and space to grow and change.


Resources Mentioned:




Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives