Friday, August 19, 2011

Immigrants learning the business ropes



Source: The Daily Gleaner
When Rosalina Lamason couldn't find a reputable daycare for her three-year-old, she decided to open her own.
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James West/The Daily Gleaner
The fifth session of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce's business immigrant mentorship program was held at city hall Thursday. Above, from left, are: Janet Moser, program co-ordinator; MLA Jody Carr; Tony Henderson, mentor; and immigrant and program participant Rosalina Lamason.
But as a new immigrant to Fredericton from the Philippines, she realized she first needed to learn more about how business works in Canada.
That's why she joined the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce business immigrant mentorship program.
"I want to learn how to do business in New Brunswick," she said in an interview Thursday.
"I hope to open a daycare, but not until I have a basic understanding of business here."
Ironically, Lamason's family in the Philippines operates a business, but she ended up getting her degree in chemistry and works as a research assistant at the University of New Brunswick.
"This is really something new to me," she said about running a business.
The mentorship program started in 2009, and since then, 53 people have passed through it.
Chamber first vice-president Janice Corey announced Thursday at a ceremony in the council chambers at Fredericton city hall that the fifth group of 10 pairs of mentors and mentees is about to begin.
She said the program is unique in Canada and allows new immigrant investors to learn about doing business here over a six-month period from people who have run successful companies.
Starting a business is challenging enough without also having to learn a new language and culture, said Corey.
Tony Henderson is one of the mentors for this group. The retired businessman said it's his way of giving back to the community.
He ran Safety Source for 23 years before selling the company to his son.
He said the number of regulations required for a new business such as a daycare can be daunting.
"The chamber is offering a really good program that assists immigrants in becoming successful," he said. "It's nice to be a part of it."
Henderson said he has travelled around the world and there's no doubt in his mind the best country is Canada.
New Brunswick Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr said Thursday the business immigrant mentorship program has been a big success and the provincial government will continue to fund it to the tune of $80,000.
He said it shows immigrants are welcome in New Brunswick.
"When you're successful, we're all successful," said Carr.
Mayor Brad Woodside said immigration is the key to future success of Fredericton and New Brunswick because the province and the city aren't growing on their own.
He said growing up he never saw anyone from another country when he walked down the street. Now he said he sees people from all over the world in Fredericton.
"We're a richer community for it," said the mayor.
Janet Moser, business immigrant mentorship program co-ordinator, praised all the mentors for contributing six hours a month to work with new immigrant investors.
She said without the mentors, the program couldn't operate.
The group still has room for one or two more mentees, and the program is always looking for more mentors, said Moser.
The sixth group will begin late this fall, she said.