SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN – The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) honoured businesses and individuals at the first annual Newcomer Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (NEYA), which was celebrated in Saskatoon on June 6 at TCU Place.
“Last night’s gala was a celebration of newcomer entrepreneurs who have demonstrated the drive and determination it takes to be a successful business owner in the Saskatoon Region,” said Alex Fallon, President and CEO of SREDA. “Their stories are unique and inspiring, and reflect their desire to contribute to our community. We are delighted they have chosen to live in the Saskatoon Region, to build a future here and to build companies that generate employment opportunities for local residents. We are a strong community and a stronger economy because of their contribution.”
The 2016 NEYA winners are:
Startup – Colors of India, Sneha Chakraborty
Sneha Chakraborty moved to Saskatoon from India. Her passion to add to the growing diversity of Saskatoon, led her to utilize her entrepreneur skills and take her chances on opening Colors of India on Ave B. Her hard work, passion and growing customer demand for ethnic wares and clothing led to a bigger location within a year on 2nd Avenue. Today, the store is flourishing with her imports coming from vendors in India. She is a source of employment to newcomers struggling to start their careers.
Sneha supports fair trade vendors in India and adds to the local colour of Saskatoon not only with the vibrant colours of India in her boutique, but with her personality that knows no bounds when it comes to supporting the community in which she is involved.
Growth – Baydo Development Corp, Yufeng Wang
Yufeng Wang is the President and CEO of Baydo Development Corporation. Yufeng was born in China and received a scholarship to attend the University of Saskatchewan to complete his Ph. D. Yufeng started Baydo Development Corp. in 2010, and since its inception Baydo has invested over $100M in commercial, residential, multi-family and single family real estate projects in Saskatoon.
U39 – Odd Couple, Andy Yuen
Odd Couple is a locally owned, family operated Asian restaurant located in Riversdale, Saskatoon. Andy Yuen started the business in May 2014. Andy was able to identify and create a market niche in Saskatoon to become the premium Asian restaurant of choice. Odd Couple offers modern Asian flavors, local beers/great wine and Asian inspired cocktails in a sophisticated, modern, upbeat yet friendly and elegant setting. Andy incorporates local products/produce including various products from Riversdale Asian grocery stores. Odd Couple employs more than 20 employees, including 9 newcomers. Since opening, the restaurant has exceeded expectations, with 2016 sales increasing more than 30% over last year.
Connect – Manila Cleaning Services, Florentino and Myrna Aranda
Florentino and Myrna Aranda immigrated to Canada in 1977 from the Philippines. In April 2007, they started Manila Cleaning Services Ltd., a commercial and industrial cleaning company. Opening this business gave Florentino ad Myrna an opportunity to help new immigrants and pay them a wage that allows them to have a better life in Canada.
From 2007 – 2009 the business grew from 5-12 janitorial contracts and from 7-16 employees by early 2009. Now Manila Cleaning Services has over 80 employees working full-time and part-time. Some of the company’s major contracts include: SaskTel and Co-op Grocery Stores, Home Centers and Gas Bars in Saskatoon, North Battleford, Martensville and Warman.
Due to the overwhelming stories that were received, SREDA decided to create a special award called the NEYA Spirit Award. This award was presented to the business that best embodies the spirit of a newcomer entrepreneur. The 2016 NEYA Spirit Award was awarded to Wajid and Maysoon Toma of First Impressions Hair Designs. Wajid and Maysoon’s journey to the Saskatoon Region had both challenges and joys as they searched for a better life in Canada.
NEYA Spirit – First Impressions Hair Design, Wajid and Maysoon Toma
Maysoon and Wajid Toma immigrated to Canada from Iraq in search for a better life. They overcame many obstacles in their journey to Canada. Once their arrived in Canada, they were energized by the possibilities of a new start. Maysoon and Wajid worked tirelessly to learn English and towards their goal of owning a hair salon.
In June 2009, five years after arriving in Canada without money, knowledge of English and an understanding of the Canadian culture, Wajid and Maysoon opened First Impressions Hair Design. This business has grown in every way. There are more services offered, more employees, regular improvements to facilities, and an increasing cliental. First Impressions Hair Design is a family business. You can feel the warmth and love in this establishment. Wajid and Maysoon’s four children were raised in the family business, and, gradually, the children are following in their parents’ footsteps.
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