Mustafa Ali of Hanford is a proud husband to wife, Nawal, and father of six.  As a business owner, family is his motivation.  Ali’s parents immigrated from Yemen to the United Kingdom where he was born. Their dream was to see Ali and his siblings become educated professionals. Sadly, his father passed away when Ali was just 12 years old. Fulfilling the vision of his parents was the driving force behind his success. Ali said he came from a very business-oriented community that places a much lower value on education than many cultures do, which was a challenge he faced.

“Though working hard is important, I have learned that education opens doors toward obtaining goals and leaving a legacy for my children,” Ali said. “With my wife’s constant encouragement, I overcame both the internal and external negativity and pursued my goals. I felt obligated not just to my family and friends, but the whole Yemeni American community to prove that education is the true foundation for prosperity in life.”

Ali wanted to be more than just a store owner and become a successful real estate investor.  He wanted to have more time for his family and the community. He came to the United States in 1996 and worked for his uncle in a gas station. At the time, he was working 12- to 14-hour shifts seven days a week.

“My only goal at that time was to own a business of my own to support myself and my young family,” Ali said. “Within two years, I was able to save and borrow enough money to buy my own business and after a successful spell of 15 years as a business owner, I knew that I needed something more. This led me to reflect on my father’s dreams for all of us.”

This is when his academic journey began. When he spoke with his six kids about education, he felt as though it was hypocritical.  He decided that he must further his goals and set an example for his children.  Ali earned a B.S. in business administration with an option in real estate and urban land economics at Fresno State in 2018. 

Fresno State’s real estate option was recently ranked by Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive for the third year in a row as a “2021 Leading Schools for Multifamily Real Estate” and a “2021 Leading Schools for Commercial Real Estate.”

Now with a bachelor’s degree under his belt, many doors of opportunity started to open. However, his academic journey did not end there.

“I was able to get my real estate broker’s license and felt much more confident about myself. My vision for the future had now changed, and I decided to make the bold move of selling a retail business that I had spent 20 years building,” Ali said.

This bold action gave him the opportunity to devote more time to his family and other entrepreneurial goals. Hungry for knowledge, after graduating with his bachelor’s, he knew he needed a more advanced academic degree.

“I decided to continue my educational experience and joined the EMBA program,” Ali said. “I enjoyed being in the classroom with some of California’s best academic minds and benefited a great deal from the knowledge gained. I was able to apply the skills and knowledge to my business efforts in my final project.”

Ali is graduating with his MBA in business administration with a 4.0 GPA and through his sacrifice, hard work, devotion and perseverance was named a 2021 Graduate Student Dean’s Medalist.  With changes forced due to the pandemic, he decided to start a real estate investing business and he is now working on five home renovation projects.

As an innovator and entrepreneur, Ali applied the knowledge and skills gained both in and out of the classroom to create a life his parents have only dreamt of for him.  He has not only had success in his academics and career, but has found time to volunteer at Hanford Police Activities League Boxing, a program that allows underprivileged youth to participate in a sports activity that keeps them off the street.

“I have learned that patience and communication are valuable assets that will assist in overcoming challenging situations,” Ali said. “Life is full of surprises, and the better-prepared one is for analyzing and solving challenging conditions, the more likely success will be achieved. The communication skills and knowledge gained have helped me in my personal life just as much as my business.”

Through all of the obstacles and hard work, Ali is not done just yet.  He plans to focus on his family and new businesses for a while before embarking on his next academic adventure.