Meet Wahaj Ahmed, Founder and CEO, Scan Consulting Group
In February 2020, Ontario-based entrepreneur Wahaj Ahmed left his senior executive role at a Fortune 500 company to “take the plunge” and go full-time as a business owner, founder, and CEO of Scan Consulting Group, a business he started in 2015.
“Friday, February 28, 2020 was my last day as an employee,” says Wahaj. “I loved my job, but I had big goals of being an entrepreneur and growing a global consulting business. I was incredibly excited, and my wife and I decided it was time. And then we all know what happened on March 15.”
Like so many other business owners in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wahaj had to strategize quickly while the world turned upside-down.
“The first six months were very hard,” recalls Wahaj. “I worked starting at the crack of dawn to late at night. Weekends were pretty much nonexistent. My wife is incredibly supportive, and we have young children, too. It was very stressful, with a lot of lost sleep! But we made it through.”
He largely credits Canada’s government structure with ensuring strategic support when he, like so many other employers, needed it most.
“I was able to secure small business loans which helped me not only stay afloat in early stages of my company, but also grow. I am very grateful, and I will dedicate my life to giving back and helping other entrepreneurs succeed.”
According to Wahaj, becoming a full-time entrepreneur at the outset of the pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He immersed himself in learning everything about Canadian government programs and support for business owners, from bank loans to non-dilutive funding.
“I kept thinking about the Muhammad Ali quote: ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life,” says Wahaj.
Today, he has a team of 8 fulltime employees with offices in Burlington, Dubai, Pakistan, with plans to open a new office in London, England.
Family and community
Scan Consulting CEO Wahaj Ahmed and his family.
Wahaj moved to Canada in 2015 from Dubai, UAE where he spent over 20 years of his life and also met his wife. They have three children under the age of 10 and live in Campbellville, Ontario.
“I feel like I’m very fortunate to be in Canada. I love how diverse this Country is. I’m at the right place, at the right time in history. My wife is amazing – she’s also studying to be an architect. I am blessed with a beautiful family, with our three young children.”
Volunteering is very important to him. Wahaj volunteered as a treasurer for the Association of Bright Children in Ontario “ABC Peel Chapter” in his initial days in Canada and is currently a mentor at Futurpreneur Canada, which is a program for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39 that provides financial support and expert advice during both the startup and growth stages. Wahaj is also keen on helping young students and entrepreneurs and works closely with Y.M.C.A. and its Youth Job Connection program that helps in hiring students and newcomers find employers. In fact, some of his first employees he met through the organization’s renowned youth employment program.
“There are so many opportunities here in our community that people may not even know about,” notes Wahaj. “I feel like I’m in a space right now in my life where if I’m able to give them a little direction, almost like a ‘big-brother’ type. As someone who is also a newcomer to Canada, and since I’ve learned my way through starting a business by asking questions, and by making mistakes along the way – I can help speed up their process of being more successful and achieving their goals much faster than if they’d done it all on their own. That’s my passion.”
Solving tough business challenges for clients
Wahaj is extremely proud of the very first cheque he received from his very first client, which he keeps displayed in his office. “We charged them $1,500 to help them put together a proper business plan, and they paid us with a 50% advance. They started off as a small hospitality company, and today in 2022 they have over 200 employees with branches all over Canada.”
Wahaj especially loves solving tough business challenges, and as his company grew, Wahaj and his team found that they were tacking more and more new challenges for their clients, which ultimately enabled them to add new services to their repertoire.
Scan Consulting Group today has grown into a network of firms which has offers advisory services, as well as accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, corporate training, data analytics, and digital marketing.
With all these new services and areas of expertise, he still considers helping his clients raising business funding to launch or expand their businesses, his “superpower.”
“The majority of the work I do is related to finding funding,” says Wahaj. “If a company wants to raise money, we first determine if they could work with any of the 20+ programs I work with, including Business Development Canada (BDC) and the biggest Canadian banks. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. I know each of my clients’ businesses personally.”
Wahaj emphasizes that there are a couple government-backed programs that he thinks are especially great for startups – but they’re not just for startups – they’re for small businesses too, and he strongly advises businesses investigate those opportunities. These opportunities are for businesses seeking to expand, buy real estate, leasehold improvements, furniture, fixtures, and other assets. And, if a startup is looking to export something for customers outside Canada, he would take them to Export Development Canada (EDC) as well.
Wahaj is also working on launching an online learning and resource platform aimed at helping young entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for initial ground level support in launching or expanding their businesses. The platform will be known as Go-Launch.biz.
Tactical advice for entrepreneurs
Wahaj recognizes that today is tough for entrepreneurs, especially given current economic headwinds and market conditions.
Through his work as an official Program Partner of Altitude Accelerator, he offers his unique expertise as a founder himself, understanding the challenges they face as they prepare for their launch and growth trajectory.
“The mission of Scan is to empower businesses by providing them with strategic advice to make them financially sound and strong,” says Wahaj. “We connect them with the right resources and provide continual guidance along the way. I am proud to work together with Altitude Accelerator to support fellow Canadian business owners and help them make the right decisions from the start.”
On November 17, 2022 he is hosting a “How to Fund Your Startup” hybrid bootcamp event from 2-3pm EST (registration link).
To startup founders, he says, keep a positive mindset, and focus on a few key things:
- Have a good credit score. This is the #1 most important thing you can do.
- Have a side gig. Wahaj drove for Uber when he was first getting his business started – and he even met future business contacts and mentors while driving.
- Be passionate about the thing you do best. Focus your energy on that.
- It’s about the mindset. Hold on tight. The government is doing its job. “We look after people and we look after businesses,” says Wahaj.
If you are interested in meeting Wahaj and learning more about how Scan Consulting Group can help your business, please reach out to his colleague Farhana to set up a time to chat. They look forward to hearing from you.