As a student at U of T Scarborough in the early 2000s, Sam Ibrahim remembers being inspired by the banners featuring alumni he saw lining Ellesmere Road and Military Trail. Passing under them while riding his bike to class, he imagined what it would be like one day to achieve something equally significant.
Now a successful entrepreneur, Ibrahim is hoping a $25-million gift to support entrepreneurship and innovation will inspire the next generation of Scarborough youth. “Entrepreneurs can do well, supporting themselves and their families, but they can also uplift their communities,” says Ibrahim, who is CEO of the Arrow Group of Companies, which provides strategic consulting and talent solutions to many industries.
“Scarborough is home to so many young people with great ideas. As a Scarborough entrepreneur myself, I want to make sure that the next generation can start their ventures and scale them up right here.”
Three New Awards
The Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership will offer the type of access to resources, connections to industry leaders and learning opportunities that can help students develop their business ideas and start-ups. The centre will leverage the university’s existing business incubator and accelerator community while also expanding programming to include more work-integrated learning and mentorship opportunities.
The gift also supports the construction of the Sam Ibrahim Building on Military Trail. Set to open in 2024, it will house the Sam Ibrahim Centre, student services offices and spaces for the department of computer and mathematical sciences. 1
As part of the centre’s commitment to equity and inclusion, student entrepreneurs who face financial barriers will also be eligible for three new awards established by Ibrahim. “A core mission of the centre is to ensure its innovators embody leadership values that promote Sam’s and U of T’s commitments to inclusive and equitable communities,” says Wisdom Tettey, the principal of U of T Scarborough, and a U of T vice-president.
“We Have Incredible Talent”
Ibrahim is proud of his Scarborough roots. His company’s headquarters are located in Scarborough, and he is the co-owner of the Scarborough Shooting Stars of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (the team plays their home games at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, located at UTSC).
He views the investment in entrepreneurship education as one that can benefit the entire community through economic growth – by encouraging young entrepreneurs to develop their start-ups in Scarborough.
“We have incredible talent and extraordinary potential for innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Ibrahim. “We are also resilient, inclusive and we understand diversity. All we need is the same level of access as other places in Canada.”