When Husein Rahemtulla’s parents immigrated to Canada in the mid-1970s from Africa, they had little money.
But they had prospects – and initiative.
Rahemtulla’s father, Salim Rahemtulla, came to this country as a refugee from Uganda, but by the time he fled Africa he had completed a degree in computer science at the University of Manchester in England, which allowed him to start working as a computer programmer when he went overseas. He eventually started his own computer wholesale company from scratch in the late 1980s, and the story is something that still sticks with his son to this day.
“He essentially came over with 50 bucks in his pocket and a family to support,” said Husein Rahemtulla, co-founder of successful food-delivery business Fresh Prep. “He had eight brothers and sisters, and he was the only one who had a post-secondary education. It was a great learning experience for me because I got to see a lot of what he accomplished first-hand.”
Born in 1990 in Vancouver, Rahemtulla said he and his father are part of a long line of self-starters, noting that his grandfather also immigrated to Canada and started a successful dry-cleaning business.
“It’s kind of in our family’s blood – just to be entrepreneurial and just figure stuff out for yourself and always work hard, and make things happen and do it for your family. So I definitely got good values passed down to me through the generations.”
In 2001, Salim Rahemtulla sold his company and got into real estate, buying a couple of hotels on Vancouver Island. Husein Rahemtulla, who graduated from high school in 2008, first headed to McGill University with the intention of majoring in business, but he switched to philosophy at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He acknowledges it was an unusual change.
“My interest in business was never a specific thing like accounting or marketing,” he said. “It was always about entrepreneurship, and I just couldn’t see myself getting into finance. I also felt like philosophy could be effective regarding creating good personality traits and a general understanding of motivations for businesses as a whole.”
Rahemtulla, who graduated from UBC in 2012, is a fan of Stoicism, a philosophy that dates back to ancient Greece and advocates calmness and a mastery of one’s emotions during tough times.