Learn How to Start Your Journey to Being a Successful Immigrant Businesswoman in Canada in 6 Months

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by Chinedu Jennifer Nzom

Congratulations! You just migrated to the new promised land – Canada. A land of opportunities, growth and personal development. On arrival, your newly-found land promises to provide you with the resources to settle in quickly and easily. 

However, life happens. You don’t understand why months after your arrival, your resume is unable to get you that one interview – even with the help of endless resume clinics. You may eventually get that interview, but you miss out on getting the job. Perhaps, you do get the job, but deep down, you know it’s not the right fit when compared to your over-qualified curriculum vitae. You quickly realize your life is in the “curveball” phase once again in your adult life.

Your situation may be different entirely. 

If like me, you’re an immigrant with a newly migrated family, with young children, you may discover your three year old cannot enrol into the kindergarten. You may not be able to afford daycare, which usually costs over $1000.00 as a monthly fee. 

The less favourable scenario, your application for childcare subsidy does not come through, and you are not qualified to access this government-supported service: One Human Service Network -Childcare Services. This scenario may be due to any of the following reasons:

  • The childcare subsidy fund is not available for the time being
  • The school you selected has no space available for children on the childcare subsidy list

Familiar with those responses?

At the moment, you are faced with three logical choices to stop you from feeling lost. (This list of options excludes being a full-time stay at home mum. That is a full-time profession that has no retirement package.)

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Option one: Get a job to cover some bills which, of course, include your child(ren)’s daycare fee(s).

Option two: Apply for a student grant to further your education, either in your current career path, or towards attaining your dream job in a new career field. 

This grant varies between provinces. In the case of Ontario, you will have to apply through the Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP), where you have access to both: grants, which you are entitled to keep, and loans, which you must pay back after your schooling ends, if you qualify.

No matter how you look at this option, there is one fact you should bear in mind. Canada is a country that provides you with immigration and settlement programs that are either funded, supported or approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). These programs enable you to live with a fresh start in life. 

You alone stand on your path to success.

Option three: You dig deep within you to identify your interests, passion and core values – or strength, in most cases. You decide to start a business and visit your vision board or journal. 

Once again, you bear the ever nudging question. Where do I start? 

According to She’s Next: Empowered by Visa’s 2019 report – The State of Canadian Entrepreneurship Report, the most challenging phase a woman will face when starting a business is “finding the tools to grow and manage [her] business.”

If you are like some women, you were a business owner in your country of origin, or you owned a side business while working. Either way, you have a head start in knowing what you have to offer as a new business owner in Canada.

Personally, I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug in my early teenage years when I first stumbled on Lucky Santangelo, a fictional character that seemed larger than life to my teeny dreamy eyes. She gave me the Boss Lady vibe who could conquer all. (I will get to her in a bit and why she inspired me to be a business owner.)

Things to take into consideration to “Build my Own Business.”

  • How do I start a business in Canada? 
  • What does it take to be an entrepreneur or a small business owner in Canada? 
  • What will it take me to start one and achieve a successful exponential growth? 
  • How can I access loans to build my business? That is if I can obtain a loan.
  • Is my product or service relevant to this market?
  • Will I be able to find my “ideal customers”?
  • Will people understand and buy into my business idea?
  • Do I need an exclusive licence to run my business?
  • Do I need to be a member of any association to succeed?
  • What will it take me to register my business and have it operate “legally”?
  • What are the tax policies assigned for small business owners or entrepreneurs?
  • What do I stand to gain as a business owner in Canada?
  • What support will be made available to me to help me on my journey to being a successful self-made business owner? Perhaps, one day to be celebrated like Madam CJ Walker.

A girl can dream big dreams and make it big in life.

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Luckily, you don’t have to boggle your mind with such daunting questions. We are in the era of information marketing and what better place to be than Canada – the land of information overload [for good intentions obviously]. 

As a new resident of the country, you will realize how much the government is ready and prepared to serve you with the right resources and tools that enable you to grow and prosper in life. Of course, your success will contribute to its economic growth.

According to the official website of the Government of Canada, its Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) program reports that only 16% of Canadian businesses are owned or led by women. Yet, studies show that by advancing women’s economic participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. Perhaps, this is the reason the Government of Canada launched its first WES project with a $2 billion investment in order to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

Let’s visit Google, our easily accessible and most generous connection to information needed to succeed as a newcomer in Canada.

The intention of this article is not to bore you with the same list you will find in your Google search engine. This article is to direct you to the organization that will handhold you and help you in starting your journey towards being the owner of a woman-owned business and, most importantly, of an immigrant woman-owned business. 

Say hello to the Women’s Economic Council (WEC). 

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WEC is a national charitable organization that helps Canadian women, especially marginalized women, achieve their financial and commercial goals.

WEC launched Her Own Boss! (HOB) in 2019 in Vancouver, BC; Ottawa, ON; and St. John’s, NL. It is an innovative and inclusive community-based project funded by IRCC to support immigrant women in their journey towards starting up a successful business in Canada.

In partnership with nonprofits, consultants, and collaborators, WEC will support you for 6 to 12 months on your journey to being a successful businesswoman. 

With WEC’s support you will be able to;

  • focus on your business idea
  • explore suggestions of the business opportunities made available to you
  • learn of the licences needed, tax and legal requirements necessary for your business
  • funding opportunities for your business
  • how to grow or increase your network – your network reflects your net worth so i is a given
  • help you improve on your business communication skills
  • amongst many other provisions, WEC will connect you with an experienced mentor in your chosen field of business

And the icing on this cake? WEC offers you its services and support for free. Thanks to funding by IRCC, WEC is able to provide you with the support and resources you need to succeed, and you get to decide what else you would like to learn.

WEC and her partners are committed to seeing you succeed as a business owner. Your success contributes significantly to Canada’s economy, and to the success of businesswomen in general.

My experience with the HOB program has been nothing more than a priceless experience. Priceless in the sense that you can’t put a price on the entire process.

Connecting me with women from various backgrounds yet sharing similar challenges to identifying the value of your business. Helping you expand your network from mentors to organizations available to help you grow both as an individual and a business owner. 

Aside from what you learn, HOB gives the perception that the relationships and network you build during the program are for a lifetime, it is up to you how you use these opportunities. 

Don’t just take my word for it; you can read what women like you have to say about WEC’s HOB program. Click any of the following links below to read the HOB experience of fellow Lady Bosses.

To find out how WEC enables you to start your journey to being a confident boss, click here to learn more about HER OWN BOSS project. Better yet, you could click here to apply as an applicant. 

What inspired you to be a successful business owner? You could be the next inspiration to someone else. 

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My inspiration to be a successful business-owner was Lucky Santangelo, Jackie Collins‘s larger than life character. Lucky Santangelo’s character was a former mafia princess who became a successful Hollywood producer and a real-estate mogul. 

Why was she an inspiration? 

Despite living in the shadow of her father’s reputation as an Italian – American gangster, she made her name and changed her destiny by following her vision. She became ‘Her Own Boss’ amidst the challenges life threw her way.

To Your Success, Lady Boss.


About the Author

Chinedu Jennifer Nzom is a Copywriter from Nigeria. She lives with her family of 4 in Ottawa, Ontario. She writes copy that helps companies achieve their business goals and build relationships with their customers.

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