To honour Asian Heritage Month 2023, we’ve had the privilege to hear stories from our Asian entrepreneur clients about their journey of settling in and running businesses in Nova Scotia.
Tuson owns and operates Vietnam Canada Trade and Investment Promotion Inc. (VCATIP) with two very innovative and distinct business models. Read below to hear what Tuson has to say about his journey as an immigrant business owner.
Q: Can you tell us about Vietnam Canada Trade & Investment Promotion Inc.? How did it come to be?
A: VCATIP was established in early 2020 with the intention to promote bilateral trade and investment between Vietnam and Canada. The outbreak of COVID-19 shortly after that did seriously affect the company's business. However, so far VCATIP has been able to work on the development of two new business models for investment promotion:
- A model of local urban farm/garden business employing innovative technologies. The farming/gardening business models will allow farmers to not only grow cold hardy vegetables all year round, but also tropical vegetables in Canada's cold climate. This business model contributes to local food security, reduces pressure on the environment (by reducing long-haul transportation of foods and utilizing cleaner energy such as solar), and also contributes to culture diversification in Canada by supplying the exotic vegetables to the immigrant ethnic groups who have their own cuisines and needs of vegetables.
- A new model of online grocery store which includes locally grown freshly cut vegetables and a culture-diversified product list.
We strongly believe that the business models create suitable investment opportunities for newcomers and potential immigrants to Canada. Hundreds of small towns in Canada are in need of locally grown freshly cut vegetables all year round, and millions of newcomers in Canada are missing their exotic vegetables on a daily basis. This is a big market gap left for us to fill.
Q: Can you tell us about your personal background and heritage, and how it has influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
A: I have an engineering background and business experiences in diversified environments. It really helps me in finding suitable technology solutions for specific business issues.
Q: Can you tell us about any unique challenges or opportunities you've faced as an Asian entrepreneur in your industry?
A: I am not sure if being Asian has anything to do with challenges and opportunities, but I certainly encounter challenges as well as opportunities being a new immigrant in Canada. From the challenges side, many new things need to be learnt, new business connections to be made, access to finance and human resources …etc are only a few challenges to name. But from the opportunities side, I think we as new immigrants have the advantages of looking at things here from different angles and viewpoints, which can really help in identifying business opportunities. Maybe I still look at it through rosy lenses, but I think there are lots of opportunities for new immigrants here in Atlantic Canada. As long as we work hard, of course.
Q: What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds?
A: I don’t think I am in a position to give advice yet, but if you want to grow your own foods, either for your family, for your neighborhood or small community, or you want to serve the local markets, we have a solution for you. We can also co-invest with you, or provide a BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) solution. Or if you think your ethnic group has your own needs of vegetables and spices which are not widely available here in Canada, please let us know and we will try to help.
Q: Finally, in light of Asian Heritage Month, what message or insight would you like to share with our readers about the importance of celebrating and recognizing Asian culture and entrepreneurship?
A: I am a proud immigrant residing in Canada. I believe that every single resident no matter when or where they come to Canada has their own values which all together make Canada a great country. Celebrating and recognizing Asian culture is one of the good ways we can enrich Canadian values.