NEWTON â€” A team behind production of gourmet samosas and hot sauces has won the B.C. New Canadian Entrepreneur Award.
The 22nd annual award, organized by the Ethno Business Council of B.C., was given to Newton-based Nanaâ€™s Kitchen and Hot Sauce at an event in Vancouver on Thursday evening (May 22).
The plant is operated by sisters Shelina Mawani and Nasim Dhanji, who launched their food-manufacturing business in the late-1990s.
â€œItâ€™s truly an honour that weâ€™ve been recognized like this, after so many years of hard work, especially as new immigrants to Canada,â€ Mawani said. â€œWe are Canadians but not born in Canada. Itâ€™s been a long journey.â€
Nanaâ€™s Kitchen cooks up 25,000 samosas a day, making it one of the largest producers of samosas in the province.
Mawani, whose job is to market and promote the business, said the award is shared with the companyâ€™s 37 employees.
The awards gala was held Thursday at Vancouverâ€™s Pan Pacific Hotel, with tickets going for $120 per person.
The idea behind the awards is to identify successful business owners to inspire other newcomers to Canada.
In 1998 Nanaâ€™s Kitchen started out as a small restaurant in Burnaby. The sisters, originally from Tanzania, worked up to 18 hours a day. But the overtime and dedication couldnâ€™t keep the business afloat, so within a year they were forced to shut down.
â€œIt was the most difficult endeavour,â€ said Mawani. â€œWe had lost quite a bit of money.â€
With nowhere else to turn, they gave it another shot and re-purposed the business, turning it into a small manufacturing plant. One woman came in to cook the samosas, Dhanji made the filling and Mawani baked.
From there, they went â€œdoor-to-door to all the cafeterias, all the small coffee shopsâ€ to sell their unique gourmet product.
By 2003, they picked up momentum and moved into their first commercial-sized kitchen, and by 2007 moved into their current facility in Surrey, which is 17,000 square feet in size.
-with file from Larissa Cahute, Vancouver Desi