The Ethno Business Council of BC (EthnoBC) announced the finalists for the 2014 New Canadian Entrepreneur Awards. One winner will be announced for each of the five categories: 1 – 10 employees, 11 – 30 employees, 31+ employees, outstanding community involvement, and outstanding leadership. Each year, Ethno BC acknowledges the contributions that multicultural businesses make to the British Columbia economy by recognizing the achievements of successful entrepreneurs born outside of Canada, and who have been in business for at least three years in Canada. The gala takes place on Thursday, May 22 at Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. To learn more, visit www.ethnobc.org.
Select finalist profiles:
EnriqueQuesada, Twigs Landscaping Inc.
Enrique was born in Costa Rica, the youngest in a family of 15 children. After completing his degree in tourism, he tested his entrepreneurial skills by beginning self-employment as a travel agent organizing group events and tours. It was during this time that he visited Canada to meet with travel agencies. He eventually relocated to Canada and began washing dishes six days a week to provide for his family. He began working for a company named Twigs Landscaping Inc., and a few years later, he was offered the opportunity to purchase Twigs Landscaping Inc. Today, they have expanded and doubled the quantity of services offered, working year round on landscaping design and installations, snow removal and more.
Ankit Sharma, Kitply Industries
Ankit Sharma founded Kitply Industries in 2009, driven by a passion to fuel a revolution to challenge thestatus quowithin the building construction industry. A motivating leader and dreamer at heart,AnkitSharmahas a vision to build Kitply into a global distribution company. Just four years into the business, Kitply has become one of the fastest growing kitchen cabinet hardware distributors in Western Canada and further expanded into the e-commerce market through the launch ofKitply Online. AKwantlen Polytechnic graduate with a BBA in Entrepreneurship,Ankitbelieves in practicing effective leadership in business and in life.
Yasser Youssef, Fig Mediterranean Deli
Yasser Youseef is the proud new owner of the 4000 square foot Fig Mediterranean Deli. He immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 1986, and obtained hisBachelor of Environmental Science in 1997. In 2002 he began his endeavor in the speciality food market by opening Lakehill Grocery, a modest store. Over the years, word spread about his unique selections and unparalleled customer service and he soon outgrew the oringal shop. The search began for a larger location to act as a canvas for his dream store. His appreciation for living in such a beautiful part of Canada has led him to become an avid gardener and fisherman.
Christina Chang, Hanyin Education Group
Christina Chang is the President of Hanyin Education Group, where she provides education consulting services for international students in Canada as well as a private Canadian-based boarding school in Taiwan. Christina immigrated to Canada in 1996 and in three short years, she opened the education consulting company. Some of her early students are now receiving their PhDs from renowned Canadian universities. Christina supports a number of charities, and this year, started a scholarship fund for international students at Langara College. In 2010 and 2011, she received the Outstanding Chinese-Canadian Woman Award. She is now the President of the Taiwan Association for Future Leaders, ROC, and the Coordinator for the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, ROC.
Vincent Uy, Corinthian Distributors Ltd.
Vincent Uy is the President and CEO of Corinthian Distributors Ltd., a company that imports and distributes grocery and frozen food from the Philippines and Asia. Born and raised in the Philippines, Vincent graduated from Ateneo de Manila University, and took advanced Management studies at the Asian Institute of Management. In 1994, Vincent was one of the founders of Corinthian Distributors Ltd. He is also co-founder and President of 7000 Islands Foods, which has developed Philippine-inspired Sauces and Marinades for the mainstream North American market. This new line won the Retail Council of Canada’s Grand Prix New Product award for the Sauce and Condiment Category in Toronto in June 2013.
Simon Pennell was born in England and moved with his family to Montreal as a child. At the age of 12, he returned to England. As a teenager, he developed a love of languages and did many student and work-exchanges to Switzerland, France, Germany and Spain to improve his language skills. After completing high school, he moved to Vancouver and received a BA (Hons. French, German) from UBC. After graduating, Simon worked at various jobs in the US and Europe. He returned to Canada and settled in Vancouver, starting St. Moritz Watch Corp. and launching Momentum watches in 1980. He continues to travel with his family to build sales of their Momentum watch line all over the world.
Johann Starke, FCV
Johann Starke is an entrepreneur whose goal in business is to help organizations uncover new digital opportunities that make life better. Johann is President & CEO at FCV, an award-winning interactive and digital marketing agency he founded recognized for delivering results for enterprises and governments. In addition to his role at FCV, Johann serves as a director at DigiBC, the digital media and wireless association of BC, an advisor to Placespeak, a social technology startup, and is an MBA mentor at the University of British Columbia. Johann has been recognized in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under Forty, and FCV received the Community Leadership Award from the British Columbia Technology Industry Association. FCV was recently listed in the PROFIT 500, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.
Shaokun (Nathan) Yang, Kuzco Lighting Inc.
Shaokun Yang is President and Owner of Kuzco Lighting Inc, a Canadian wholesale lighting company. Originally a Chinese citizen, Shaokun worked for a lighting company in China before moving to Surrey, British Columbia in 2007. Shaokun developed Kuzco Lighting from the ground up by designing elegant new designs that quickly took notice in the Canadian market. Within 5 short years Kuzco Lighting grew from a small 3 employee, 10,000 sq. ft. facility to a 32 employee, 38,000 sq. ft. facility in British Columbia, plus a 10,000 sq. ft. facility in Montreal. In 2011, Shaokun won the WelcomeBC Day Building Futures Award for achieving a highly successful business with promising growth potential.
Paola Murillo, Mirrai International Consulting
Paola migrated from Colombia to Canada in 2005 with a dream: to merge her entrepreneurial background, her MBA training, and a passion to build a business and cultural networking hub for those with roots in, or fascination with, Latin American countries. Paola is CEO of Mirrai International Consulting, a boutique cross-cultural marketing firm that specializes in the BC-Latin American market, offering a full spectrum of marketing, communications, and public relations services.Her achievements include founding and leading Latincouver; the annual arts and culture festival Carnaval del Sol; the Inspirational Latin Awards; and ExpoPlaza Latina, Canada’s first Latin American cross-sector business conference. Her contributions have already earned her an award as one of the Top-10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians in 2011.