DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair

Helping newcomers and all emerging entrepreneurs plan, launch and grow their business

Despite the rising number of immigrants arriving in Canada, newcomers still face countless barriers to employment. It’s no surprise then that many newcomers turn to self-employment and entrepreneurship after arrival, with higher rates than Canadian-born people. According to Statistics Canada, immigrants are more likely to be business owners (5.8% vs. 4.8% for Canadian-born) and self-employed (10.8% vs. 7.5% for Canadian-born). In additional research from Statistics Canada released in April 2019, a decade-long study found that immigrant-owned firms create more net jobs and have higher growth than businesses with owners born in Canada.

But, when starting off, many immigrants lack information on the local context of doing business; they are also missing established networks and a credit history. That’s why immigrant entrepreneurs need additional support to plan, launch and grow their business. The fourth annual DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair, held during Small Business Week, on Wednesday, October 23, 5–8 pm, held at Surrey City Hall, is a great starting point for not only newcomers, but any other emerging or new entrepreneur looking for information and inspiration to succeed.

“It takes a lot for any immigrant to move their family and careers to Canada. However, the settlement journey, including finding employment, is not always smooth for everyone, so many new Canadians explore entrepreneurial possibilities,” says Florence Kao, coordinator of the Immigrant Entrepreneur Program at DIVERSEcity. “Especially for people with business experience from their home countries, they are eager to learn more about business in the Canadian context and explore business ideas. The DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair is a great place for any emerging entrepreneur to start!”

The FREE ADMISSION fair, presented by TD Bank and sponsored by BDC, will feature:

  • Inspiring speakers and practical workshops, including keynote speaker Harry Narang
  • Exhibitor booths of organizations who offer self-employment and small business information and resources, including Small Business BC, Newton BIA, Beta Collective, Community Futures, Futurpreneur, Telus, Neil Squire Society and more
  • One-on-one advice to help you get started on your entrepreneurial journey
  • Business showcase of local immigrant entrepreneurs
  • Presentation of three Immigrant Entrepreneur Grant Awards (value of $1,000 each) (chosen through an independent judging process after an application process)

Last year’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Grant Award winners offer up some great success stories of immigrant entrepreneurs. Take grant winner Janaka Rathnayaka, owner and managing director of Clayton Glass Inc., whose company is not only flourishing, but has been getting recognized with further awards. The Sri Lankan-born Surrey resident won the 2018 Innovation Award by the Surrey Board of Trade, the 2019 Professional Achievement Award from ASTTBC (Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC), and is now a finalist for the 2019 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Surrey Business Excellence Awards.

“Starting my own business in Canada was very challenging,” says Janaka, “but I learned that if you are willing to put in the hard work and effort, you stay determined and dedicated to your dream, and you make use of the valuable resources and settlement services offered by organizations like DIVERSEcity, there are no limits to your success.”

For more information about the DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair, see


Margaret Jetelina

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