Our monthly Immigrant Entrepreneurship Newsletter features some of the incredible immigrant entrepreneurs in Alberta that we work with, like Isis and Dwain from the Spice Joint Jamaican Café in Jasper National Park. We spoke with them about their journey and experience as immigrant entrepreneurs in Alberta:
What is your background?
Me, Isis, I am from the Dominican Republic and Dwain is from Jamaica.
Tell us about your business and what it does:
It is a small cafe in Jasper National Park. We serve Jamaican food with a twist (grilled cheeses, wraps, sandwiches), coffee, and treats.
What motivated you to start your own business?
Dwain has been working in the food industry since he was 17 years old and one of his goals was to open his own restaurant. As for me, I have been working in the food industry since I got to Jasper in 2011. There is nothing better than being able to make your own decisions and creations.
What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success?
The quality and freshness of each meal that is served at our cafe. Our biggest success is keeping the same happy and positive spirit as the first day we opened.
What has been your biggest challenge as an immigrant entrepreneur in Alberta?
Getting to know the financial services and programs.
What has been your biggest challenge in light of COVID-19? How have you had to pivot your business?
Re-opening the cafe was our biggest challenge in order to keep ourselves and our customers safe. Due to COVID-19 we started offering delivery. It has been a great addition to our services and keeps the sales going really well.
What has the pandemic taught you about you and/or your business?
We have great support from our community and our business is stronger every day. Our business is still young but it has amazing potential. Just the incorporation of delivery service and its great success is proof of it.
What advice would you share with other immigrant entrepreneurs in Alberta who want to start or grow their own business?
It is possible. You can do it. Do not let anyone put your dreams down. It may take time and effort but it can be done. Do a lot of research and write down all your ideas. It will be useful down the road. To grow your business you need to know if your business is ready for the next level. There is a right time for everything, just wait for yours.
How has Business Link/our Immigrant Entrepreneur Program helped you? Why did you come to us?
It has given us the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and share our ideas.
What’s coming up next for you?
We are hoping to start offering dinner service very soon!
Anything else you would like to share?
We are living in difficult times right now but things will get better.