Mohammed Ashour

Mohammed
Affiliation: 
Alumnus
Place of Birth: 
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Graduation Years: 
2009
Department / Division: 
Honours BSc
Life Sciences

I wanted a career that would impact lives in a material way while I earned a great living. This is an extension of my dream, not a departure.

Mohammed Ashour

Although winning the $1 million Hult Prize finally convinced Mohammed Ashour to focus on entrepreneurship instead of his youthful dream of becoming a doctor, U of T Mississauga gave him the knowledge he needed to pursue a medical career.

“Their life sciences program seemed like it encapsulated the training I needed to be competitive when I got to medical school,” says Ashour, the chief executive officer of Aspire Food Group, a social entrepreneurship venture that helps smallholder farmers in Ghana raise insects as a source of protein and income.

He chose the U of T’s Mississauga campus because it allowed him to commute, something that didn’t prevent him from getting involved in UTM’s extra-curricular activities. Ashour played and coached intramural volleyball and was very involved with the Muslim Students’ Association, organizing events such as blood drives.

“My undergraduate years were a formative part of my development,” he says. “The safe, open-minded and rich environment within UTM encouraged me to embrace my faith and inspired me to serve the UTM community.”

During his undergraduate career, Ashour developed a passion for psychology, an interest that led to a double major in biology and psychology and a master’s degree in neuroscience. He fondly remembers classes with psychology professor Robert Gerlai where “Gerlai engaged us in discussion as if we were like-minded peers and created an environment that elicited participation from all kinds of students.”

Looking back, Ashour traces a deep desire to mentor other students to his days at UTM. He fondly remembers a (then) post-doctoral fellow, Emis Akbari, who generously coached him through the difficult process of applying to graduate school. “People like Emis are what made UTM special,” he says. 

Since graduation, Ashour has earned an MSc and went on to pursue a joint MD-MBA. However, he looks back fondly at UTM as “a place that made academics and research fun and incredibly accessible.”

Awards:

  • Forbes magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, 2016, people who are leveraging business tools to solve the world’s problems

  • Top MBA Impact Maker (McGill University, 2015) – Awarded to the top three alumni believed to have had the greatest positive global impact on the Desautels Faculty of Management in its 50 year history)

  • Gifted Citizen, 2014, member of a community of talented citizens and social entrepreneurs who joins a movement of change and improvement through his projects

  • Winner, $1 million international Hult Prize competition, 2013, for a proposal to remedy global food insecurity with a microfarming project