FcF: Tell us about yourself?
Zahra: After completing her BBA from Schulich School of Business, Zahra completed her accounting designation as a CPA, CMA and gained diverse experience including banking operations, financial reporting for public and private companies as a Controller, and managing large budgets and performance management systems to support operational goals. In 2018, she launched Optinum Professional Corp. to provide finance and business planning support to small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. She has supported many businesses with building their finance plans and accounting systems, and led fundraising efforts very successfully. Zahra actively supports social enterprise, completing Canada’s first certification for professionals serving this sector, Community Development for Good. Zahra is also the founder of Social Venture Circuit, a non-profit organization providing educational resources and a community network for for-profit and non-profit social enterprises. In 2020, she led Social Venture Circuit in successfully hosting its first local Social Enterprise Day conference. She also mentors CPA candidates and supports local business incubators with finance and social enterprise workshops.
FcF: What is Social Venture Circuit ?
Zahra: Social Venture Circuit is a non-profit membership community for organizations with a social purpose. We support both for-profit and non-profit social enterprises. The goal is to help businesses that are doing good for the world to perform better and grow their impact. Launched only in April 2020, Social Venture Circuit operates out of the Region of Peel and hosted the first annual local Social Enterprise Day conference in November. We are currently hosting a free mastermind series to support interaction and learning for social entrepreneurs and change-makers. In early 2021, we will be launching our official membership platform with online learning resources, more events, and mentorship opportunities.
FcF: How did you come up with Social Venture Circuit?
Zahra: I transitioned my career from finance into business development and right away, the idea of social entrepreneurship captured my interest. I pivoted my expertise by working with social enterprises and completing the Community Development for Good certification. With this knowledge, I realized that the local social enterprise sector needed more support and resources to thrive. I started Social Venture Circuit to build a community that could have access to key resources and network to support their social impact.
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
FcF: What has been helping you in building your own skillset to be a better founder for Social Venture Circuit?
Zahra: A big source of insight for me has been my incredible mentors. I was always afraid to ask others for help and advice but once I put these inhibitions aside, I got to see that people are willing to help and teach, and support my growth as mentors. It has made such a big difference in my learning. The other aspect of growth for me is managing my mindset that there will always be lots more out there to learn and I have to show up curious and ready to explore. I read a lot, take courses and workshops (even more choice with everything online now), and ask others questions about their experiences.
FcF: What are you looking for in a Co-Founder?
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Zahra: Don’t wait till you feel ready. I was waiting for that and eventually realized that it is really true: ready never comes. Start research and getting exposure to the right environments to prepare yourself more.
FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Zahra: My venture is growing faster than expected as there is a critical need for it. So I want to find co-founders and team members who are passionate about the idea and helping. Currently, the organization is just starting out so we need committed volunteers who are passionate about our mandate and to help it grow.
FcF: How can people contact you?
Zahra: Promoting the start of the Social Venture Mastermind series.
All free to attend and first event is on Dec 14th:
You can also DM @Zahra in our slack channel!
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