The relationship between an entrepreneur and their community is reciprocal: they equally give to each other, and what they give is immensely beneficial to both.
Communities support entrepreneurs by becoming patrons and ambassadors of their businesses, and entrepreneurs – themselves a community – uplift and support one another by sharing experiences, knowledge, and insights. Entrepreneurs, in turn, support our communities by creatively filling service and product gaps, by building the economy, by creating job opportunities, and by sharing their talents and innovations.
Immigrant entrepreneurs, in particular, have an unparalleled drive to succeed, as well as skills and unique perspectives that lend so much to their communities. To help them on their paths to success, ISANS’ Business Development team offers business counselling, training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to immigrants in Nova Scotia who want to start or grow their businesses. We provide our clients with tools and resources to help them better integrate in the community, understand Canadian and Nova Scotian business culture and practices, and make meaningful connections.
An important way that we increase a sense of belonging for immigrant entrepreneurs and bring our larger community together is through our annual ISANS Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards, which celebrated its third year in 2022. Planning for the October event begins in January, and organization, teamwork, and community collaboration are key to its success. Among the many steps to prepare, we bring together inspiring guest speakers, community sponsors, immigrant entrepreneurs and vendors to showcase their products and cater the event, as well as highly-deserving award nominees.
This year, we received over 50 nominations for five award categories, and we had a special award to recognize a distinguished immigrant business for Exceptional Entrepreneurial Achievement, which we presented to Peace by Chocolate. All in all, the event was a tremendous success. It featured a networking hour with culturally diverse food and music, with about 100 people in attendance. We also hosted nine sponsors as well as 20 immigrant businesses who showcased their products and services, and most importantly, we recognized the achievements of 16 outstanding immigrant entrepreneurs.
As we are every year, we were simply amazed by the submissions this year and by the stories immigrant entrepreneurs have to tell. We have had the privilege to witness the resilience of many immigrant entrepreneurs trying new ideas and testing new markets, sometimes struggling, but always with the strength and determination to try again and reach success. What’s more, they are unceasingly willing to share their successes and give back to the community to ensure that others receive the help they need.
In our work, we have witnessed much to inspire us about immigrant entrepreneurs, but one thing is abundantly clear: they share our vision to make Nova Scotia a community where everyone can belong and grow.