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Area's immigrant entrepreneurs get funding boost

Immigrant Entrepreneur Program gets $150,000 from the province
20180212 liz sandals ts
Liz Sandals makes a funding announcement at Immigrant Services Guelph Wellington Monday, Feb. 11, 2018. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

Immigrant entrepreneurs in the area got a helping hand from the province Monday in the form of a grant of up to $150,000 from the province.

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals made the announcement at Immigrant Services Guelph Wellington on Dawson Road.

"This new program that we're talking about today will enhance the settlement and employment supports available to refugees, refugee claimants and other vulnerable newcomers," Sandals said.

The Immigrant Entrepreneur Program is a joint venture between Immigrant Services and Business Centre Guelph, with the objective of assisting refugees and vulnerable newcomers to become self-employed.

Sandals said that starting ones own business in Ontario can be way more complicated than in other parts of the world, including what the business opportunities are and "what is the red tape involved."

"It's often a real challenge for newcomers," Sandals said.

"It's always great to see partnerships because that helps expand the reach of Immigrant Services into the broader community," Sandals said.

Sandra Cocco, Executive Director of Immigrant Services, said the partnership with the Business Centre Guelph will help make sure the assistance, information and support is there to help give entrepreneurs the best chance for success.

"They're the experts. They have all the connections and the tools," Cocco said.

"We know that employment is the key to integration and settlement ... the entrepreneur piece will be new for us, but it's something we see that a lot of our clients can bring to the table and to this economy," Cocco said.

She said immigrant entrepreneur ideas can stem from home-based businesses and up.

"It doesn't have to start off on a large scale. It could be a home-based business and as their clients grow and their revenues grow they might take it to an off-site location."