Plus, award winners were announced in DIVERSEcity’s new Business Pitch Competition
It’s #SmallBusinessWeek, a time to recognize and celebrate the courage and creativity of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Statistics show that many of those starting businesses today are immigrants, women and BIPOC individuals, and we celebrated this fact at the 6th annual DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair, presented by Canadian Western Bank, held yesterday, October 19, 2022, 3–7 pm, at Surrey City Hall.
Hosted by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, more than 300 people took part in the bustling event, filled with energy, inspiration and innovation. Emerging entrepreneurs showcased their businesses in the marketplace, alongside exhibitors offering small business resources and information, including BDC, Futurpreneur, Community Futures, WeBC, YMCA and many more.
Sonia Parmar, Treasurer of DIVERSEcity’s Board of Directors, welcomed everyone on behalf of DIVERSEcity, calling the fair “a true culmination and celebration of the work DIVERSEcity does in supporting immigrant, BIPOC and women entrepreneurs through its award-winning self-employment programs. It’s all about providing entrepreneurs with the right tools to plan, launch and grow their business.”
A highlight of the evening was DIVERSEcity’s new Business Pitch Competition, Dragons’ Den style, with BDC on board as the Business Pitch Competition Sponsor. The competition received dozens of submissions and a pre-selection committee came together to narrow them down to a shortlist of four entrepreneurs. After onstage live pitches by the four shortlisted applicants, the judges deliberated, and the winners were chosen as follows:
- First Place (Prize $2,000): Yusa Masud, of Kasih Kit, a graduate of the YMCA self-employment program
- Second Place (Prize $1,500): W.O.W. Soup, a business collective of nine women graduates from Camosun College’s ProSIT Maker-to-Market program in Victoria, BC
- Third Place (Prize $1,000): Rhona Doria, of Hablon Handmade Trading Co., a graduate of DIVERSEcity’s entrepreneur programs
- Fourth Place (Prize $500): Jhansi Yedluri of Pamjy Candles, a graduate of DIVERSEcity’s entrepreneur programs
First place winner Yusa Masud said: “I am extremely grateful for the support that DIVERSEcity has given to me, Kasih Kit, and all the other immigrant entrepreneurs. One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is being vulnerable, showing up and sharing things that are very near and dear to your heart — especially on a stage facing a room of people watching you! This award is definitely motivating me to continue growing Kasih Kit and making mental health support as friendly and accessible as possible.”
Rhona Doria, third place winner said, “I thank DIVERSEcity for opening doors for an immigrant like myself and helping and supporting startups and small businesses. Being included on the shortlist and having that opportunity to tell Hablon’s story is an honour; placing third is a bonus. We at Hablon Styles and Hues must tell the stories of these socially disadvantaged, underprivileged ethnic Filipino women weavers and artisans while showing the world their craft, creativity, ingenuity and Filipino culture and tradition.”
“It was an honour to be the presenting sponsor of DIVERSEcity’s 6th annual Entrepreneur and Small Business Fair,” said Joe Pereira, AVP & Manager, Commercial Relationships at CWB. “At CWB, one of our five core values is ‘Inclusion has power.’ This event — and DIVERSEcity as a whole — aligns with this value by creating a community that empowers individuals from diverse backgrounds to learn from each other and achieve collective success.”
At the event, the second annual CWB Women Makers and Creators Award was also presented to a graduate of the CWB Business Incubator for Women Entrepreneurs: Deborah Burleson of Westcoast Monkey Works.
Group photo: From left, back: Garrison Duke, DIVERSEcity COO; Yusa Masud of Kasih Kit; Rhona Doria of Hablon; Karina Gomez and Nok Hutawatthan from W.O.W. Soup; Jhansi Yedluri of Pamjy Candles. From left, front: Divanshu Gupta from Canadian Western Bank; Florence Kao from DIVERSEcity; Fei Wang from BDC.