Depending on the circumstances, some people view unfortunate events and setbacks as opportunities to start a new chapter for themselves in life. Everyone’s position is different, but using a negative situation as inspiration to create something positive is plausible for many.
For Mostafa Heikal, it was his involvement in a car accident — suffering a knee injury as a result — that changed his life. A former London resident before moving to Oakville, Mostafa began brainstorming and thinking about ideas for a small business he could launch.
Mostafa and his wife, Noura, had some challenges finding a childcare centre for their son while they were in London, waiting five months to find a spot 20 minutes from their home.
As a graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), and due to his experience in sales and marketing, Mostafa eventually landed on the idea of opening a childcare centre. However, he ran into some problems with receiving small business loans and other financial support at the outset of his new entrepreneurial endeavour.
Due to his injury from the car accident, Mostafa was unable to work and had not been earning an income. Some banks and financial institutions viewed Mostafa’s venture as a high-risk investment for loans and financing, but he and his aspirations had not lost all hope just yet.
Given that Mostafa had been considering Middlesex County as a region to open his childcare centre — even during the early stages of his idea — it was perfect that CFDC Middlesex was there to help through the organization’s consulting services and loans for small businesses.
“I would not have been able to fulfill my vision for Angels Daycares without the tremendous support from CFDC Middlesex,” Mostafa said. “This organization does not merely disburse loans. It is staffed by professionals who genuinely care about the success of their clients.”
During his research on the local market in Middlesex County, he came to discover that there had been a significant demand for childcare centres in many of the region’s smaller towns and communities. Arva was the first area that Mostafa began seeking support for a daycare location, which initially had been difficult to finalize the permits to lease the building.
In the meantime, Mostafa started searching for an alternative option in Komoka. For the building in Komoka, it was not long until Mostafa began leasing and preparing it for a daycare location. Shortly after, Mostafa subsequently acquired the permits to lease the Arva building.
The application process with CFDC Middlesex — specifically regarding business consulting and the disbursement of loans — was a relatively simple and straightforward process for Mostafa. After going through the application, CFDC Middlesex approved the Arva location.
Mostafa received the loan and financial support from CFDC Middlesex for the childcare centre in Arva and started working on Komoka, marking the beginning of Angels Daycares and its pledge to support families in Middlesex County.
One major part of Mostafa’s application with CFDC Middlesex — as is the case for any small business or entrepreneur applying for loans and financial support — is to ensure it will create jobs in the local area. With the help of CFDC Middlesex, Mostafa connected with Community Employment Choices to hire a portion of Angels Daycares’ staff for its childcare locations.
From Mostafa’s perspective, CFDC Middlesex has a strong commitment to helping its clients succeed. Not only is CFDC Middlesex there to provide loans, but the organization supported Mostafa with Angels Daycares and helped with operating the business through consulting.
After opening its primary location in Arva toward the end of 2019, Angels Daycares ran into a problem in March of 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly impacting businesses in Middlesex County and around the world, Angels Daycares had to close its doors to the public.
This virus outbreak was a challenging setback for a newly emerging business, especially with a significant number of families on Angels Daycares’ waitlist in Arva and Komoka. Thankfully, Mostafa and CFDC Middlesex had built a strong relationship that led to more financial help.
Through CFDC Middlesex’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) — intended to support small businesses and entrepreneurs with the effects of COVID-19 — Mostafa could cover his business’ overhead costs and continue to hire staff members for its reopening. While Angels Daycares had lost some customers due to COVID-19, it was now in a position to recover.
One of Mostafa’s favourite quotes is from Jack Ma, speaking to the adversity of both COVID-19 and his knee injury: “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow is worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” As for Mostafa’s relationship with CFDC Middlesex and the county, he believes in the idea that we should “invest in people who invest in you.”
At the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mostafa was moving toward finalizing the Komoka location’s opening. As the Ontario provincial government lifts COVID-19 restrictions, Angels Daycares will gradually reopen and fill more spots at its childcare centres in Arva and Komoka.
Angels Daycares is opening a third location in Thorndale, which will increase its staff and childcare spots. Once all three daycares are open across Middlesex County, Angels Daycares aims to employ around 35 full-time employees and have approximately 160 childcare spots.
Further expansion is in the plans for Angels Daycares, with the help of CFDC Middlesex encouraging Mostafa to invest in Middlesex County. As an inclusive daycare focusing on the unique needs of all children, Angels Daycares can support any family in Middlesex County.