Every year, Douglas College Self Employment Program honors the best of its graduates at its annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award gala event held at the Executive Hotel Inn in Coquitlam, BC. Over 3,000 students graduated from the program since its inception and each of them, eligible for award nomination.
For the year 2011, 27 finalists were nominated for 9 category awards and 5 out of the 10 category award winners are immigrant entrepreneurs. That’s 50%! Surprised?
(l – r) front row : Pamela Gervacio, Laramie Tan-Amit, Dr. Cobi Slater, Judy Hamilton, Terryl Plotnikoff. (l – r) back row : Fabio Milano, Chris Zhang, Charles Baverstock, Sanjana Khaira, David Wong.
Photo credit: www.rosaportraitstudio.com
According to Statistics Canada, About 19% of micro-enterprise owners are not born in Canada. In Quebec, Manitoba/ Saskatchewan and the Atlantic region less than 10% of the entrepreneurs are immigrants. In contrast, in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia the percentage is 30%.
These statistics were evident at the Douglas College Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2011 held on October 19, 2011. Several immigrant entrepreneurs were amongst the 27 finalists and award winners honored at the Douglas College EYA event. 5 out of the 10 category award winners are immigrants.
• Award winner of the Retail Category, Laramie Tan-Amit grew her accounting business at a steady pace during the first five years of business. In the last two years her strategies changed and the growth of the business accelerated, as she introduced Jeepney Mart, a retail business providing Philippine products, money transfers, tax returns and full accounting services to the Filipino community in the Coquitlam market area.
•Pamela Gervacio of Design2Print Company was thrilled to be awarded the Home-based category award. She has grown her business every year since its beginnings in 2006. In the early stages the majority of sales came from business card design and business card printing. Today her company publishes and prints GLEAN magazine, AFRI-CAN Magazine, Can- Hi-fi Magazine and many more. Design 2 Print Ltd. also prints newsletters for the Oakridge seniors’ society, Renfrew – Collinwood seniors’ society and the 4-11 seniors’ society.
•Sanjana Khaira was the winner of the Youth Entrepreneur category award. She credits the women predecessors who paved the way for her to succeed as a woman lawyer. Sanjana has a vision to be the premier law firm in providing effective, affordable and personalized quality legal services aimed at meeting the needs of our local population, specifically Indo-Fijians and local home and business owners. Sanjana Khaira Law Corporation is one of the only firms in the lower mainland that specifically caters to the needs of the local Indo-Fijian population.
•The Global award went to David Wong of DK Wong & Associates. David works with entrepreneurs in mergers and acquisitions, raising capital, public listings, helping companies in distressed situations and also provides professional business analysis and valuations. He takes great pride in accomplishing what was the most complicated and largest transaction valued at $3.4 million that prevented a 40 year old very well known Asian Noodle & Wuntun producer from being forced into bankruptcy and laying off over 50 employees. He was also actively involved in assisting Youthco AIDS Society host a charity fund raiser, our finalist, a Director in the society, was instrumental in promoting the event, increasing the attendance from 90 to 200 people in only 2 days and raised over $10,000 for the charity.
•Chris Zhang of Sager Education won the Consulting Award category. Sager Education Inc. provides after-school tutoring services for students from grade eight to twelve in Math, Science, Physics, Chemistry and Calculus. CEO Chris Zhang has worked hard to become recognized as a premier tutoring school, and to that end in only two years, the school has over 150 registered students. Sager Education Inc. has been approved by University Waterloo as a certified location to conduct a Math Contest and was most recently approved by The Mathematical Association of America, the biggest global secondary school contest, as the American Math Competitions (AMC) certified exam location.
One of the criteria for the award process was the philanthropic or charity activities of the finalists. All of the award winners have in one way or another contributed to charity as a way of giving back to the community.