Elizabeth Fry


We are proud of MSU’s next iteration of post program supportMy Start-Up is a women’s self-employment entrepreneurship training and support program for women who want to start their own business. Elizabeth Fry Toronto is happy to announce our latest partnership with Dr. Shokouh Abadi, founder of KIMEG Law. She will be facilitating 3 workshops for our alumni and graduates of the MSU program.

Check out our latest interview HERE with Dr. Abadi where she tells us more about what motivated her to specialize in business law and her journey as an entrepreneur.  

Our My Start Up program is in its 5th year of inception and we couldn’t be more thrilled with all the support it’s been able to give our clients. In partnership with Rise, women get access to idea generator sessions, employment skills workshops and support developing their business idea. MSU has facilitated 8 cohorts with over 126 participants.

“My Start Up program with Elizabeth Fry Toronto helped me find my voice… gave me the tools and courage to start my non-profit business organization… their amazing team created a comfortable atmosphere for learning and development… gave me skills, mentorship, other custom supports and empowered me to turn my paininto purpose… so grateful for opportunity.” – MSU Alumni  

MSU continues to pivot to meet the needs of our clients. Many have expressed the need and benefit of post program support. Given that we have hostedmultiple post program support sessions with our employment coordinators, women entrepreneurs in the community and we have even had some of our MSU alumni leadsessions. This gives participants the opportunity to ask questions to other women navigating the entrepreneurial landscape.  

Securing a partnership with Dr. Abadi is another way the MSU program can provide support to its participants given her background in business law and entrepreneurship. She is an international and dual-licensed lawyer; a solicitor and barrister in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Abadi has a rich teaching background and has taught at universities in different countries. Her expertise extends beyond traditional academia, as she has also designed and conducted a series of Business Law Boot Camps specifically tailored for women entrepreneurs in Ontario, Canada. Through these programs, she aims to support and empower aspiring business owners, fostering their growth and success.  

Don’t forget to click HERE to watch our interview with Dr. Shokouh Abadi and our Employment Coordinator Meera Umasuthan. *We have also included a copy of the transcript from the interview below! 

The three workshops Dr. Abadi aims to facilitate will touch on the following: 

Session 1: Forms of carrying on a business 

The first session will cover the various forms of carrying on a business and highlight the unique characteristics and legal implications. Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, license, franchise is some of the forms of starting and running a business. There is no one size fits all solution, and several factors must be considered before making a decision on the most appropriate form of carrying on a business.  

Session 2: Incorporating and structuring a corporation 

The next session will touch on understanding the process of incorporating a business, structuring a business, and legal requirements to maintain a business. This is essential for businesses that are in the form of corporations. This session will also cover the legal foundations of corporations. 

Session 3: Protecting intellectual property rights 

The last session will explore the concept of IPs, different types of IPs and different ways of protecting these rights. One of the most common topics for businesses these days is the protection of their intellectual property rights. Trademark, copyright, patent, industrial designs are some types of IPS. 

Having a basic knowledge of the law is essential in protecting businesses, and we want to offer it to our MSU participants to help reduce their legal risks. We are looking forward to these kickoff these post program support workshops in the fall.  

Thank you Dr. Abadi for your time andexpertise. To learn more, visit her website: https://www.kimeglaw.ca/

Watch the interview HERE
Meera: Hello and welcome to a special Spotlight Interview. We are so excited about the partnership of My Start Up, at Elizabeth Fry Toronto, with Shokouh Abadi, the founder of KIMEG Law. My name is Meera Umasuthan, I am an Employment Program Coordinator for the My Start Up Program and Today we are joined by Shokouh herself, thank you so much for being here Shokouh!  

Shokouh: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. 

M: Yeah, and I’m so excited to have a wonderful conversation. But what about we jump right in and why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 

S: Sure, so yes, my name is Shokouh, and I’m a lawyer. The focus of my practice is mainly on business law. I’m the founder of my own law firm KIMEG Law and I’m a mother of two young kids, one seven and the other three years old. 

M: And why don’t you tell us a little bit about what motivated you to specialize in business law in supporting entrepreneurs and how do your services cater to the unique challenges that they face? 

S: Sure. So, I think my educational background was one of the main reasons I decided to practice business law. I have 2 master’s degrees and one PhD in international business law, and I’ve taught business law at different universities in different jurisdictions. But apart from my academic background, I think, one of the other main reasons I decided to practice business law was my passion in entrepreneurship. I’ve worked as a self-employed and an in-house lawyer. I am familiar with the challenges that entrepreneurs can face in their business and also the impact they can have on innovation and economic growth in society, so I would really like to play a role in supporting entrepreneurs reaching their goals. 

M: That sounds amazing. And so why would it be important to have a legal resource when starting a business and what kind what types of legal issues or supports from a lawyer would an entrepreneur commonly require and how do you address these challenges in your practice?  

S: From the very starting point after an entrepreneur comes up with an idea to start a business, legal issues are present. Having a lawyer can empower an entrepreneur to make informed decisions. Legal matters are as I said, present from the starting point during the whole journey that entrepreneurs have, from the making a decision to running the business, to incorporating a business, how to maintain a business in a legal form, these are all legal questions and legal issues. Having a lawyer and legal support can empower, as I said, business owners and entrepreneurs in building a solid foundation for their business. 

M: Do you find that there may be unique issues/barriers faced by women entrepreneurs? 

S: Yes. As a woman myself, who owns a law firm, and also as a lawyer who has supported a women entrepreneur, I can say that they are all unique challenges for women in business. One of the unique issues or challenges that women usually face in the business is the work life balance. It’s not sometimes easy to have that balance in life and work for women because we as women are usually like very good multitaskers, so and focusing on business and also juggling with family responsibilities is a challenge. Another, challenge that usually women, entrepreneurs may face is unfortunately gender bias and discriminations. We can still see traces of discrimination in some areas and that could be an impediment for women to start a business or to grow their business.  And of course, I don’t know if it’s your next question or not, but there are solutions for that. And that’s why, lawyers or, other professionals can provide unique services for women to empower them and support them to navigate through these challenges and start their business or grow their business in a safer and more balanced environment.  

M: I’m interested here some success stories, would you be able to share some examples of how your legal support has positively impacted women entrepreneurs? 

S: Absolutely. So yeah, I think generally lawyers can have a great impact on their clients. It’s not just through the legal services they provide, but as professionals, we can have a much greater impact on their life and so that they can make more informed decisions. For example, I had a client, a lady who wanted to start her business and we had a couple of meetings and some back-and-forth emails, and I noticed that she is very interested in starting her business, but she wasn’t ready. I decided to reach out to her and ask for a more informal call. We spoke and she started to talk about her family situation. She mentioned that she is in the process of getting divorced from her husband. At the same time, she wanted to start a new business. So, two huge changes in her life were happening, and, and so I, advised her to, prioritize. her legal needs and the changes that were happening in her life. We planned by mentioning it what is most important at that stage and what she can do for that. She was able to tackle all the challenges by prioritizing and she’s now in a very stable situation and I’m happy to see that she has started her business but with a more informed mindset and she was ready when she started her business. I think that was the power of knowing when to start a business and that knowledge empowered her to make more informed decisions. This is like one story that I can share with you about my clients. 

M: Thank you so much for sharing some of those very unique barriers that are faced by women entrepreneurs and how having that legal support can really help them navigate these barriers. I just want to shift gears a little bit to talk about your TEDx talk. In your TED Talk, “How could justice lead to happiness?” You speak about the concept of how resilience and anti-fragility in adversity work together to build well-being. Can you tell us a little bit about what anti-fragility means and how we can become anti-fragile? 

S: Sure! I think, generally when we face a challenge, a problem or a failure, any kind of crisis, we can make three different decisions. We have 3 options. One is to give up and quit. That’s the easiest option we have and that’s the first strategy or choice that our mind gives us to follow because it’s so easy to give up everything. The second option we have is to be resilient. Through resilience, we can withstand that problem we can be more patient, withstand that challenge until that situation goes back to normal. And the third option we have, is to be anti-fragile and I learned this concept from Nassim Taleb, who’s a psychologist and a philosopher. Anti-fragility is not just withstanding a challenge or a problem, it’s something more than being resilient. It is to find a greater purpose out of an adversity and to grow, to get to a better position from where you were before that challenge or problem. So it’s something like a step to jump to a better position with that problem or challenge. So that’s, the concept of anti-fragility and I love it when I learned about that concept. I decided to share it through my TEDx talk. 

M: You talk about anti-fragility in your TEDx talk, throughout your journey as a lawyer and as an entrepreneur also yourself, I’m curious to know, do you feel like the concept of anti-fragility can also be applicable in entrepreneurship to the clients who work with? 

S: Absolutely, yes. I couldn’t emphasize more on that. Entrepreneurship is tied with challenge, with problem, with ups and downs. And in fact, that’s the main difference between being an entrepreneur and an employee. When you are employed you have more stability you have more security and by being entrepreneur you lose that stability, you face lots of ups and downs from the day one. You have to wear different hats and be an accountant, marketing agent, for me, I have to be a lawyer so everything. Or seek advice and support from a specialist. Every day is a challenge for an entrepreneur. And as I said, with challenge, we can have 3 options: either to quit, be resilient or be anti-fragile. Being Anti-fragile is not just good for personal life, but it could be very helpful tool for entrepreneurs to thrive and to grow their business, because by having that mindset, they can look at the challenge and the day-to-day problems from a different angle, and grow their business. I found that the concept of anti-fragility is a very, very powerful tool for myself in my business and I highly recommend to all entrepreneurs, especially women, to be anti-fragile in their business. 

M: Thank you for sharing. The concept of anti-fragility, I definitely think it’s something that’s applicable in both the context of law and entrepreneurship as well, so that’s amazing. Thank you for sharing that with us. I just wanted to end off our conversation with talking a little bit about, entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur yourself, what have you enjoyed the most about starting your own business and what’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?  
S: The best part of being an entrepreneur for myself has been the constant learning process. There is no repetition in terms of the clients you meet, their works. That makes my job more exciting, because I every day when I wake up and I see a new email or a phone call or a referral, that case is unique. It’s different from other cases and the people I meet, they are completely different in terms of their personalities. So, I have to learn new skills; not just legal skills, but how to communicate, deal with different clients. I love this learning process in entrepreneurship for my practice.  
M: Thank you so much, Shokouh, for this amazing conversation. And we’re really excited about the partnership and working together with you here at the My Start Up program and really looking forward to all the amazing things that will come from your business and this partnership. Thank you so much, for sitting down with me for the Spotlight interview, we really appreciate it!  

Written by: Kendra St. Cyr

In Conversation with: Dr. Shokouh Abadi and Meera Umasutha

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