WE-CAN: From Immigrant to Entrepreneur


Tuesday October 27, 2020
6:00 am - 7:00 am


Virtual Workshop
Event Category

Miss the workshop? Watch the recording.

All entrepreneurs struggle in their early years. But as a new immigrant to Canada, Karla Briones faced more than the usual set of business challenges.

In this session, serial entrepreneur Karla will relate her experiences of immigrating from Mexico to Canada as a young adult, and her and her family's struggles and experience in opening their first business. She will also share three key learnings for success as a newcomer entrepreneur.

If you identify as an immigrant entrepreneur -- or aspire to be one -- this session will provide inspiration and actionable resources to get you started or grow your business.

By the end of the workshop participants will:

  • Discover the key “must-have” in any business
  • Be inspired to start or keep growing their own business
  • Have an actionable plan moving forward
  • Be aware of resources available to immigrant entrepreneurs

NOTE: Attendees will be emailed a Zoom link to the online session by separate email prior to the event.


Karla Briones arrived in Canada in a U-Haul truck with her family when she was 18 - after a long five-day drive from her native country, Mexico. She and her family lived the struggles most immigrants experience: cultural, language, environment and job security barriers.

She is now proudly a Mexican-Canadian serial entrepreneur with retail, food and beverage, and online businesses. In her newest venture, Karla Briones Consulting, she uses her 10-year business experience to assist new immigrants become successful entrepreneurs in their adopted country by helping them build sustainable and scalable businesses. Her mission is to build the strongest, most thriving and collaborative immigrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in the world - one newcomer at a time.

This fall, Karla is launching the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Academy (IDEA), a digital platform where newcomers will gain knowledge, access mentorship through a network of successful immigrant entrepreneurs and funding so they can launch, incubate and accelerate their businesses regardless of what part of Canada they are in - regardless of the industry they want to be in.

Karla is also part of the team of independent business advisors at Invest Ottawa - the local economic development agency which provides services to local aspiring and current entrepreneurs needing support. She works with all types of entrepreneurs at different stages, and most recently launched the Peer Groups, where she helps revenue-generating companies reach their first $1M faster.

Karla is a recipient of the 2018 City of Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award, given to an immigrant who has made an impact in the local economy and entrepreneurship ecosystem. She actively gives back to her community and is a business mentor with Futurpreneur Canada, World Skills’ Entrepreneurship Connections program, the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) and other local community groups.

A guest speaker, lecturer, and generous with her advice, Karla is passionate about growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada and giving back to the country that welcomed her with open arms.

She is also the lucky mom of two amazing, strong and inspiring humans: Carmen (8) and Nayeli (12) who also have their own business! She lovingly instills in them her Mexican roots and encourages them to use their Canadian wings to fly after their biggest dreams. Her husband and business partner, Shawn, patiently supports, encourages and contributes to the success of it all.


The WE-CAN Project is led by Queen’s University and supported by the Government of Canada. Its mission is to inspire and empower existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs by providing them with tools, resources, expert mentors, networks and community building to expand existing businesses and to launch new ventures.

The Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund is providing $3.2 million for Queen’s University to design and deliver programs and services to accelerate, train, mentor and provide resources to women entrepreneurs and women-led companies in the community.

The focus of the WES strategy is to provide support to women entrepreneurs from diverse and underrepresented groups.