Newcomer entrepreneurs connect with experienced business owners

Over 15 successful business owners with immigrant backgrounds shared their experience and business know-how with aspiring newcomer entrepreneurs during the Immigrant Entrepreneur Exhibition yesterday at Vancouver’s Jewish Community Centre.

Entrepreneurs representing such diversity as a cupcake bakery, an engineering consulting company, an auto repair shop and a software business were on hand to inspire and encourage other new immigrants seeking to build their own businesses.

The day’s activities included exhibition booths, seminars and workshops on topics ranging from how to protect your business profits to how to be resourceful when starting a new venture.

In addition, three immigrant entrepreneurs were chosen to present their future business plans to a panel for expert advice.

Elizabel La Cruz, owner of Remix Hair Studio in Coquitlam, was one of the presenters. Despite 10 years struggling through English language learning, a major marital crisis, and single parenthood, the Venezuela-born La Cruz was determined to succeed and worked long hours to build a customer base that’s turned her salon into a viable, growing business.

“I have always had the vision to open my hair salon,” La Cruz said during her presentation.

The next step in her business is to hire more staff and increase her client base which led her to participate in the exhibition.

Entrepreneurs Fabiola Palomino from the Immigrants Magazine TV series on Shaw Multicultural Channel 116 and Aruna Liyanage, a robotic arm engineer also presented their future business plans to the panel of experts.

The panel, including Sonya Reginato, Sales Manager for small business at RBC in South Vancouver/Richmond, Jim Tallman, President of North Pacific Training and Performance and ISSofBC Board Member, and Shane Gibson, Sales Trainer at BuildDirect, offered vital tips to the aspiring entrepreneurs such as the importance of networking among peers to share ideas, seeking financial assistance from a bank to help a business grow and exploring the market to see if the product fits.

The Immigrant Entrepreneur Exhibition was jointly organized by ISSofBC, MAPLE 2.0 and RBC.

View photos of the event.

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