Farhan Ali, a newcomer entrepreneur, in his stall at the Edmontion Expo Centre where he sold goods at the 2019 Edmonton K-Days on Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Larry Wong / Postmedia
Farhan Ali learned the hard way how business practices can vary across borders.He thought he could do business with a handshake, like his father had taught him in Dubai, where families know one another and trust was the cornerstone of every deal.But after a successful order with a client, a second one went sideways after Ali made the jackets they ordered and was never paid. The company claimed business went down and it could no longer take the leather jackets it had ordered, but Ali is still out $40,000 for the cost of making the order.“In Dubai, everything in business is based on trust,” said Ali in his stall in the Edmonton Expo Centre on Sunday. “Here, I had to learn how I was vulnerable with new rules.”That’s where a business course came in, after a friend recommended it on their bus ride together.Over 14 Saturdays in a row, Ali learned everything from building a business plan to how to set up the paperwork to protect him from unfortunate situations like the one he had dealt with. More than 250 entrepreneurs, mostly women, have been trained in the program since it began.Nearly two years after he, his wife Sidra and their four young children arrived in Canada, determined to build a home, Ali is the one welcoming customers into his own shop at K-Days, where he and other graduates of the business development and support program run by Action for Healthy Communities are sharing their pieces of home by selling products to festival-goers.“The respect, the diversity the inclusion that you get in Canada … you can’t find that anywhere else in the world,” said Ali. “This is a country that my children can say is a home.”Through the course, Ali connected with other newcomers from around the world, who he said really helped him “form community” as he and his wife tried to build the businesses.“You need to understand what the legal rules are, how to set up a company, marketing strategy — everything to have a successful company,” said Ali.‘An amazing day’Like Ali, Joelle Kacou’s family is a big part of the reason she is looking to build her business, Jean Wenseslas Jewels, by exhibiting at K-Days.Her son, now 15, insisted she apply for the Action for Healthy Communities course, which she will begin soon in addition to her role in employment services. Her company is named after her father, who passed away but is “alive in (her) heart.”
Joelle Graziella Kacou is a newcomer entrepreneur who had a jewelry stall at the 2019 Edmonton K-Days Exhibition, the annual 10-day festival that wrapped up on Sunday, July 28, 2019. (PHOTO BY LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA)
“It was my dream to live in Canada,” said Kacou, who is originally from Ivory Coast and lived in France for a number of years before moving to Edmonton. “We have so many opportunities here.”The jewelry she creates bridges the gap “between West Africa and the West,” said Kacou.A francophone, she has enjoyed connecting with other French-speakers in Edmonton and helping them learn about the resources AHC offers. She also partners with a friend who makes garments from fabrics imported from the Ivory Coast.Both Ali and Kacou were excited to share their ambitions and passions as newcomers at an event that has been an Edmonton tradition for 140 years. For Kacou, her stall is the first time she is exhibiting her business.“I believe it’s a strength for us as immigrants and as newcomers to find our path in this society,” said Kacou. “It’s really meaningful for me to be here.”firstname.lastname@example.org/moirawyton