We Are Ambitious: Wafa Al-Jabiri
November 15, 2016

Wafa Al-Jabiri

Entrepreneurial Mom        

You could call Wafa Al-Jabiri your typical Canadian hockey mom. She’s used to getting up in the early hours of the morning to take her daughters to hockey practice, probably with a steaming cup of coffee in her hand to keep warm and awake. She cheers from the sidelines at games as her kids skate up and down the ice at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex, and enjoys chatting with the other parents on her team. It’s so Canadian!

And a very long way from Iraq. That’s where Wafa emigrated from under the skilled worker category with her husband and three daughters just three years ago in 2013.  

The transition from an Arabic Muslim country like Iraq to Canada was not always as simple for Wafa and her family, however. For most newcomers to Canada, there is a lot of uncertainty about settlement, culture, language and the job hunting process after first landing. Both she and her husband had technology backgrounds, but neither had jobs lined up in Canada.

“My husband fortunately found a job in his field in IT after a few months,” says Wafa. But, between focusing on helping her three daughters adjust to their new life and school in Guildford, and taking classes herself to polish her English skills, Wafa’s path took a different turn. 

It began with volunteering. “I started volunteering with community provider services helping newcomers and refugees in English conversation programs to improve their language.”

Wafa has since continued her volunteerism, with a focus on helping immigrants on a broader basis. “I am volunteering right now with Immigrant Advisory Roundtable, also with the Social Policy Advisory Committee of the City of Surrey, which provides advice to Surrey City Council to enhance the social well-being of Surrey residents,” she says. “I volunteered because I not only wanted to give back to my community, but also to create connections with people.”

Her immersion in the immigration realm as a volunteer led to a business idea focused on another group of migrants: international students. Suddenly, Wafa was an entrepreneur.

Her consulting business, Leadership Education Consulting, is a Canadian agent that offers educational services to students around the world who want to study at language schools and universities in Canada, U.S.A. and Spain.

“The whole journey of launching my business was challenging and exciting. I had a good network in the Middle East that helped me to promote Canadian education overseas,” she says.

Entrepreneurship has become an essential part of who Wafa is, so when asked to describe herself, it’s not surprising the word “ambitious” comes up.  Entrepreneurial dreams are even part of her downtime: she loves being inspired by watching Dragons’ Den.

When not on the go for work, hockey or family, you might find Wafa recharging in the beautiful outdoors; Tynehead Regional Park is her favourite spot. But the people she meets are what make Surrey such a welcoming place for Wafa: “I like the diversity in Surrey. I find people so nice and helpful. When my kids started playing hockey, I had no idea about the equipment or even the game. I found huge support from the other parents who were very helpful.”