This year’s recipients of our eBay entrepreneurship awards hail from all over the world and all share unique, inspiring stories from our global marketplace. The awards celebrate entrepreneurs who have used eBay’s tools and platform to enter the global economy and build high-impact businesses, while focusing on sustainability, refurbished goods and creating businesses with purpose. These sellers are exporters with reach, selling everything from clothing and used electronics to car parts.
We want to recognize six of those sellers who best exemplify eBay’s commitment to empower people and create economic opportunity. Here are the stories of those six entrepreneurs living in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Colombia, Israel and Hong Kong:
Jehan Zeb, The Collector
This year, eBay Canada’s Micro-Multinational of the Year award goes to Jehan Zeb for his coin collecting business. The award recognizes an eBay seller who uses the marketplace to further tap into a global customer base.
In 1994, Jehan moved to Canada from Pakistan to continue his studies. Shortly after, he began working at a local convenience store in Vancouver where he developed a new and unexpected passion for coins — including commemorative Canadian coins — while working the cash register.
As a store manager, Jehan continued to cultivate his new hobby, attending trade shows and joining local collectors’ groups. In 2005, at the recommendation of a friend, he started selling commemorative Canadian coins on eBay under the name Mahin 888.
One key to Jehan’s growth was accessing a global market of buyers. Today, nearly half his business comes from outside of Canada, including Israel, Russia, and the U.S. (which, alone, accounts for 20% of his sales).
In 2018, Jehan retired as a store manager to run his coin business full time on eBay. He sells about 10,000 items a year and now has over 28,000 positive reviews. What’s his secret? Jehan says keeping an international customer base in mind when sourcing his inventory makes his business competitive on a global scale. And the growth of his sales, which are now 150% year-over-year, prove it.
Jehan’s customer-first approach, his passion for his products and eagerness to bring Canadian coins to buyers around the world is what makes him one of eBay entrepreneurs of the year.
Adewumi Akinyotu, The Family Business With a Purpose
Fashion Flair is one of 10 small businesses in the U.K. honored at this year’s eBay for Business Awards. They specialize in secondhand shoes, clothing and bags. The awards recognize and celebrate the most inspiring of eBay U.K.’s 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Presented at eBay’s annual seller conference, eBay Open, the awards build on eBay’s $44 million investment to help those small business sellers with the challenges of COVID-19.
Combining sustainability with value, Adewumi Akinyotu and her husband Samuel together built their family business from scratch on eBay. Adewumi originally came to the U.K. to obtain a higher degree while her husband taught math. But in 2011, after the couple had their first baby, they fell into financial hardship, and both struggled to find work.
To make extra money, Adewumi started selling gifts she didn’t need on eBay and made her first sale in May 2012. She even remembers her first customer feedback: “I am well pleased with my item and with the level of service you offered. You will prosper on eBay in the future.” The couple say it inspired them to keep selling secondhand items on eBay.
Nearly a decade later, the business has grown so much that they have moved to a warehouse and hope to keep building on their success in the future.
Simon Gabriel and Benjamin Gabriel, The Refurbishers
mySWOOOP buys used electronics and resells them. Their mission is to help consumers and businesses buy used and refurbished electronics and sell ones they no longer need. And to do it easily, quickly and inexpensively, while contributing to a sustainable future.
"We want to create awareness in society for more sustainability," said Okan Uca, who heads the online sales department at mySWOOP.
Simon and Benjamin Gabriel opened their brick-and-mortar business, mySWOOOP, in Bremen, Germany, in 2011. But pretty soon they wanted to branch out online, as well.
Since then, their partnership with eBay has been a key to their success. Today, mySWOOOP has two brick-and-mortar stores in Bremen, and they have plans for a third store in addition to broadening their business partnerships.
Andrés Pinzón and Jessica Vargas, The Automotive Pioneers
Colombian couple Andrés Pinzón and Jessica Varga embody the entrepreneurial spirit. Their online store Segen sells auto parts, spare parts and accessories for cars and all-terrain vehicles.
The idea for the business came from Andrés’ own experience. He needed parts for his all-terrain Suzuki LJ80 and looked on eBay to see if he could get them. Once he realized how difficult it was to find the parts, the couple saw a business opportunity. They already sold pre-owned cars in Colombia so it was a natural fit.
They started selling auto parts for Suzuki LJ80 models and have since branched out to different types of spare parts and accessories from Japanese brands such as Toyota.
Their main customer base is from the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, Australia and Japan. In 2021, as demand grew as a result of the pandemic, they exported to more than 100 countries. As a result, eBay named them Exporter with the Greater Global Reach in Latin America. Their hard work, dedication and effort can be seen in their results which is why we honor and celebrate this couple as one of our entrepreneurs of the year.
Galina Shabbat, The Fashionista
Galina Shabbat started selling vintage, secondhand, sustainable and recycled handmade fashion accessories on eBay at Galinas store a decade ago.
"Since I have a hearing problem, I was looking for a platform that would meet my needs,” explained Galina. “I decided to try and sell things I made from my hobbies: knitting, embroidery, jewelry, renovation and recycling. Today the store is an integral part of my daily life."
Galina's tip to those who want to sell online at eBay is to "sell what you love — only then is it fun and encouraging to keep going."
Fai Ng, The Anime Figures and Toy Enthusiast
F&C Toys sources toys from Japan and Hong Kong and sells them on eBay. They focus on selling Japanese brand toys and models in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. The company’s mission is to provide high quality toys for maximizing fun. They want parents and grandparents to feel good about buying their products and love seeing kids’ happy faces when they receive their products.
“We are the merchants of happiness,” explained Fai.
In 2015, F&C Toys opened a retail store in Hong Kong and soon started selling online. eBay’s support was key to their success. It took Fai just two years to scale F&C Toys from a small business to one with sales over $1 million.
To date, F&C Toys has delivered toys to children and families in over 180 countries and more than 5,000 toy collectors and fans through eBay. They hope to supply more toys and more joy to their online customers in the future.
Learn more about how eBay supports small businesses at ebayinc.com/company/partner-to-sellers/.