Florence Kao and Garrison Duke from DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. (Photo submitted)

Business Notebook

Surrey program for immigrant entrepreneurs earns CANIE award

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A Surrey program for immigrant entrepreneurs has been recognized with a Canada Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award.

Florence Kao is the employment specialist in charge of DIVERSEcity’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Program, which was recently named the British Columbia Region CANIE winner for the Enterprise Support Award.

Kao, who first came to Canada from Taiwan in 2007, says her dedication to helping newcomers is spurred by her drive to never quit.

“I always look for solutions, instead of problems,” she said. “I become their champion and help them as they work toward their self-employment goals.”

And how does she do that? By helping newcomers explore business ideas, do market research and competitor analysis, write a business plan, register their business, understand financial loan options, learn about marketing, sales and operational plans, and more.

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With the help of DIVERSEcity, Zahraa Alkorde, left, and Bekhita Mohamed decided to pursue fashion as a small business idea after they came to Canada.

Among those Kao has helped is the pair of entrepreneurial women behind CAE Fashion (CAE stands for confident and elegant).

Originally from Eritrea, a northeast African country on the Red Sea coast, sisters-in-law Zahraa Alkorde and Bekhita Mohamed both have backgrounds in teaching but decided to pursue fashion as a small business idea in Canada.

“Wearing a beautiful dress makes me feel confident,” says Bekhita. “But I didn’t know how to start the business. With Florence, I learned a lot about business and am gaining more confidence.”

Garrison Duke is director of the employment and language programs at DIVERSEcity.

“DIVERSEcity’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Program has had a substantial impact on the business dreams of so many newcomers, thanks to Florence and our funder TD Bank,” he said. “Receiving the CANIE Award is a wonderful testament to the work we do, and the amazing entrepreneurialism of our clients.”

For more information on DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society and its programs, click here.

• • •

Trans-Continental Textile Recycling (13120 78a Ave) is extending its clothing drive in support of the Surrey Food Bank, thanks to the generous support of Surrey residents.

The Surrey textile recycling company started collecting clean and dry clothes and shoes several weeks ago to support the food bank in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gagan Klair, Trans-Continental’s fundraising manager, said it was a story in the Now-Leader that kicked the clothing drive into high gear.

“The article you put out ended up having a very wide reach and was very helpful in all of this,” he said. “In the first two weeks we had people coming with truckload and even a big turnout from young people and people from other municipalities.”

Klair said more than $1,500 was raised in the first two weeks, which equates to about 7,100 pounds of textiles. Thanks to this success, he said the company plans to continue the drive and send the proceeds raised every two weeks to the food bank.

Trans-Continental Textile Recycling is located at 13120 78a Ave.



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

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