From Refugee to Entrepreneur Yonas Hagos' Entrepreneurial Odyssey

Immigrants make up what they lack in financial and educational resources with grit and a determination to seek a better life, says entrepreneur and author Yonas Hagos in his new book: FROM SCRAPPY TO SELF-MADE: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From An Ethiopian Refugee To Turn Roadblocks Into An Empire. The book details Hagos’ journey from poverty to the heights of success. Over the years, Hagos has operated 47 restaurant franchises with a varied portfolio of Dunkin’, Smoothie King, Arby’s, Chicken Salad Chick, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and others, has launched several independent restaurants, and run diverse retail businesses, including a vodka distributor and fitness center.

Melding a how-to, self-help business book with gripping personal stories that share life in a Sudan refugee camp as well as a U.S. Army stint that culminated with a Purple Heart, the book is a tale of entrepreneurship that focuses on the roadblocks aspirational business owners encounter. Hagos shares his assimilation into a new culture while delving into every aspect of what it takes to launch a successful business.  He also discusses failure, learning from mistakes, and moving on to sustained success.

Yonas Hagos went from Ethiopian refugee to a United States Army Purple Heart recipient to an owner of 47 major restaurant franchises. He is an International Franchise Association’s Franchisee of the Year and has been featured in a wide range of publications. He was profiled alongside Colin Powell in a cover story in Parade magazine.

Gary M. Stern has written for many of the top publications around the world. He has been published in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal,, Crain’s New York Business, Institutional Investor, among others. Stern is a regular columnist on restaurants for’s Food & Drink pages since 2019.

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