Ismaili Chamber Newsletter, May 2016

Good Bye from Hanif G. Juma

My Dearest Ismaili Chamber Members,

As I depart from the role of serving as the Executive Director for the American Ismaili Chamber of Commerce during the past 4+ years, I look back at the progress we have made together — from building a platform which allows us to work together and focusing on building economic strength to connecting with experts and sharing best practices. This platform, which we affectionately refer to as “AICC” has become a force which did, does, and will continue to impact Ismaili entrepreneurs and professionals in a very positive manner — Inshallah! Together, we have built this platform to include nearly 1000 members, connected over 650 Ismailis, organized 70+ events, and introduced opportunities valuing nearly $100 million.

But we did this together! This is my humble request from the membership…continue to be engaged with the Ismaili Chamber. Don’t just join; become involved so that you can take advantage of the offerings. Continue to support the Ismaili Chamber through engagement, participation, sponsorship, membership, ambassadorship, financial support, event organization, bringing opportunities forward, or any other way possible. Let’s continue to build this vision so that it may impact the lives of Ismailis for generations to come.

I want to thank you personally and professionally for all of your support, kindness, and interaction, which you all have provided to me during my tenor. I will always cherish my time in this role with the Ismaili Chamber as I take with me more than I can ever leave behind in way of friendship, knowledge, and experience. I also take this opportunity to seek forgiveness for any short-comings on my part. Finally, I am confident that you will provide our new leader, Riffat Manasia, with equal or even greater support than you have graciously provided to me.

With my deepest gratitude,

Hanif G. Juma


Ismaili Chamber Welcomes a New Executive Director

Dear Members,

On behalf of the Board of Directors for the American Ismaili Chamber of Commerce, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our new Executive Director, Riffat Manasia.

Riffat is a seasoned professional and an action oriented entrepreneur, who joins the Ismaili Chamber with over twelve years of experience in building capacity, leading teams, and managing complex projects under budgetary constraints in both for- and non-profit sectors. She has lived and worked in Switzerland, Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has led projects in Syria, India and Nepal. Riffat holds a Bachelor of Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a multi-disciplinary Master in Planning and International Development from Harvard University (Harvard Business School, Kennedy School of Government, and Urban Planning).

Over the next few weeks, Riffat will be relocating with her family to Houston from their home in Zürich, Switzerland, to assume responsibilities as the Chamber’s new Executive Director. In doing so, she will build on the work and accomplishments of Hanif G. Juma, who has led the Chamber since its inception over four years ago. The Board and I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Hanif for his dedication to the Chamber and its members, and for the tremendous energy he brought to help launch and lead the organization successfully with help from the Chamber’s Founding Members, members and business partners.

As she settles into her new role, I hope that Riffat will have opportunities to interact with the Chamber’s members and stakeholders across the country, with an objective to learn about your needs and goals that can be better supported by the Chamber. An actively engaged member base contributes significantly to a chamber’s success, and it is my hope that Riffat will benefit from your continued engagement as she leverages Hanif’s work to develop products and services and deliver greater value to all members. As always, the Board and I would like to thank you very much for your support of the American Ismaili Chamber of Commerce and its work.


Akbar Poonawala

Chairman of the Board

American Ismaili Chamber of Commerce


Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, Las Vegas, April 26-29, 2016

The Ismaili Chamber joined forces with the mainstream organizers of this premier franchise event — Multi-Unit Franchising Conference (MUFC) was held in Las Vegas in late April. MUFC is a key national event known for large-scale deal opportunities. This year, the largest multi-unit owners gathered for a three-day conference filled with education, networking and fun.

The Ismaili Chamber organized a private event during the conference featuring the International Franchise Association’s chair, Aziz Hashim, as the speaker. An intimate group of about 50 attendees discussed business opportunities and insights and shared a great deal of excitement, motivation, and realization. Early feedback is that attendees benefited from discussions about scaling, brand selection, financing growth, and enriched their business contacts via networking opportunities.

Tampa Franchise BOSS Event, Tampa, April 10, 2016

The Ismaili Chamber and the Economic Planning Board for Florida collaborated to host a Franchise BOSS event in Tampa in early April. Ismaili Chamber shared resources on evaluating franchises, creating operating partnerships and unit economics. Additionally, the Ismaili Chamber introduced three brands who are looking to expand in Florida — Checkers (focus on C-Store Model), Captain D’s, and Any Lab Test Now. These brands offer diversity — three different industries and investment requirements ranging from $125K to $1M. Excitingly, the turnout was excellent with over 150 attendees when we were expecting 125! There are already several pursuits of business opportunities introduced during the event, as well as some operating partnerships being sought. Cheers to another great Ismail Chamber event!

View photos from the events here.