Student’s Gift Business Gets Boost Through Entrepreneurship Award

A student pursuing a minor in Management at the Goodman School of Business is the first recipient of the $10,000 Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award.

 Student’s Gift Business Gets Boost Through Entrepreneurship Award

Fatima Abourida loves to create meaningful, imaginative gifts. Driven by her long-standing love of crafting, the third-year Brock Computer Science student launched her own company and is now the first recipient of the $10,000 Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award.

The award enables Abourida to pursue a four-month Entrepreneurship Co-op term at the Brock LINC, where she will be coached and mentored as she develops her business.

Abourida, who is also pursuing a minor in Management at the Goodman School of Business, will also participate in monthly check-in meetings and work toward goals and milestones that she sets out for her business.

Restarting and expanding her gift business

“I got really excited when I received the email that I was selected for the award,” she says. “This award will allow me to invest in new machines so that I can widen my product selection, save time making the products, and work on my marketing.”

Abourida took her first steps into entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was laid off from her job, had a lot of spare time and needed to make an income. She set up her company, Gift Minion, as a resale business, sourcing and selling gift items that would be in demand for different occasions or specific times of the year, such as Mother’s Day or graduation season.

Abourida eventually closed her resale business, but her interest in entrepreneurship remained. At the end of December last year, her mother gave her a deeply meaningful gift: a Cricut machine that is able to cut different materials into a variety of shapes and sizes.

That gift inspired Abourida to restart Gift Minion with the idea of creating customized products such as mugs or T-shirts. She’s also exploring the use of artificial intelligence to generate mockups of designs based on customer requirements and preferences.

The best gifts out there are the ones that are sentimental and personalized to an individual because anyone can give you money as a gift, but money isn’t emotionally valuable,” she says.

From pitching her business to watching it grow

As her customer base started to grow, Abourida purchased additional machines but needed support with marketing and expanding her capacity. She applied for the Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award with the encouragement of Brock LINC Program Manager Cassie Conte.

I presented my business idea, which is to run a customized gift shop with my main selling points being uniqueness and saving customers time,” says Abourida.

“We’re excited to have Fatima as the first recipient of this award and look forward to seeing her business grow through the support provided by the Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award and the Entrepreneurship Co-op program,” says Conte.

Conte encourages eligible students to apply for the award for the award, which supports up to five women Entrepreneurship Co-op students each year.

The history behind the Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award

The Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award is part of a larger $500,000 gift from Brock University Chancellor Hilary Pearson and her husband Michael Sabia to support women in business and the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Laura Sabia dedicated her life to creating opportunities and opening doors for women” says Pearson.

“The Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award is a tribute to her groundbreaking leadership,” she says. “It enables young women like Fatima Abourida to act on their creative business ideas, with Brock’s mentoring support and the help of a four-month, paid co-op work term. We believe that Laura Sabia would have been delighted to know that her legacy continues to promote the success of young women in areas such as business and STEM where their talents can be recognized and their efforts can shine.”

Laura Sabia, Michael Sabia’s mother, was a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, President of the Canadian Federation of University Women, and served on St. Catharines City Council from 1963 to 1968. In 1974, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her work toward improving the status of women.

Learn more about the Laura Sabia Entrepreneurial Award

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