Habi Gerba, 30, has been appointed as the Youth Chamber of Commerce of Montreal’s new president.
“I’m feeling really excited actually. The Youth Chamber was created 90 years ago in a crisis. Now we’re celebrating our anniversary in a crisis,” Gerba said.
An accomplished entrepreneur and fashion designer hailing from Montreal-North, Gerba brings a fresh and positive attitude to her new role – one that she took on based on a family philosophy.
Her family’s motto: why not?
Gerba runs Gazelles, a boutique where she advises and creates tailor-made pieces for businesswomen.
“What I like about those executive women with a lot of ambition is that they don’t see clothes as fashion, they see it as a work tool,” Gerba said.
Gazelles started a year before the pandemic struck, a difficult time for entrepreneurs. But she’s persisted and is now into year three of her business.
Gerba’s positive approach to challenges comes from her upbringing.
“My dad said that if one per cent of artists can make a living, why can’t that one per cent be my child?” Gerba explained.
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Gerba’s parents immigrated to Canada from Cameroon in the 1980s.
Her dad, Malam Gerba, earned a highly competitive international scholarship to study in Canada and became a communications expert who has travelled the world.
Her mother, Amina Gerba, created several successful companies and is now a senator.
“I started following my mom when I was 16, she is an entrepreneur also,” said Gerba. “I started following her and meeting women, strong women with a lot of ambition and I fell in love with them. I was really young and I was thinking. How can I help them?” she recalled.
That is how Gazelles was born.
Since those teen years following mom and other successful women, Habi Gerba has been collecting triumphs of her own.
In 2016, she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Youth Medal. Last year, she became the recipient of the Black Designer of Canada Award of Excellence. She has also created a podcast where she speaks to women entrepreneurs.
“I see every time I put in the podcast a strong Black woman, the amount of messages is crazy and that for me, really, really means something because there is a hunger for young Black women to see other people that look like them and succeed,” Gerba proudly said.
That’s something she’s taking to heart as she embarks on her new role at the junior chamber of commerce, a role she took a chance on, because… why not?