We provide services and support to immigrants at all stages of business start-up and development
Newcomer entrepreneurs bring investment, global connections, and new business initiatives that contribute to the vitality and economic growth and development in local communities.
With expertise in both newcomer settlement and business development, ISANS is the only organization in Nova Scotia that provides business development services expressly to newcomers.
ISANS’ specialized staff provide holistic support to newcomer entrepreneurs, including language training, family supports, and community integration services to ensure a supportive settlement process for the clients and their families.
In 2018, 2185 newcomers received business development services, 326 of those were new clients.
Newcomers get support for entrepreneurship and innovation through six program areas, including counselling, training, networking, mentoring, communications, and access to resources. This past year, ISANS launched the 5th edition of the Connections: An Immigrant’s Guide to Starting a Business, a resource to introduce newcomers to the business start-up process. Connections is available online and in print in both English and French.
To further support immigrant owned and operated businesses to advertise their services, ISANS launched the Immigrant Business Marketplace app. In 2018-19, ISANS welcomed 150 business onto the platform to support local entrepreneurs to promote and market their businesses in Nova Scotia, and to connect with the business community.
Edgar Sosa & Leticia Delgado
Chocolate, blueberries, or cranberries? These may be unlikely decisions for someone who spent years studying cells, immunology, and cancer therapies, but in 2016 when Edgar Sosa’s wife, Leticia Delgado, was pregnant, concern about diabetes placed him on another path. He became founder and chief executive officer of Ednaturals Healthy Foods, creating snack bars using a plant called moringa that lowers blood sugar.
Edgar came to Canada from his native Cuba in 2014, along with Leticia, to work on his post-doctorate at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University. Leticia had lived here earlier, earning her Master of Marine Management at Dalhousie. She taught in Cuba and Canada while Edgar completed his PhD in health science in Spain.
Leticia discovered ISANS while looking for employment. She volunteered as an office administrator at the Refugee Health Clinic before teaching part time in the Department of Environmental Studies at Saint Mary’s University. While Edgar was working on his post-doc, he attended our evening business workshops. “I did them all!” he declares. “When I got here, my mindset changed.” He found Introduction to Business in Nova Scotia particularly insightful, as well as a workshop about Canadian business culture. He also did workshops on business tax, structure, plans, incorporation, marketing, and finance.
“We started developing recipes, tried Seaport Market, got feedback, improved the bars, developed customer relationships,” he recalls. He now sells JiveBerry snack bars in stores and from the website jiveberry.com. “It’s fun and entertaining. You have to wear so many hats the same day.”
“Without ISANS it would be harder. I got knowledge beforehand instead of learning through trial and error. ISANS does an awesome job.”
Leticia is production manager for the business, running production in the evenings and on days off of her full time work as a customer-service specialist at Blue Ocean, a call centre, where she uses her Spanish. She recently participated in our Women in Business program and Financial Management for Small Business. “I meet people who already met Ed in workshops,” she laughs.
While Edgar is no longer in a medical lab, he uses transferable skills. “I spent 23 years of my life studying. There was a point where I said I chose science to help people and I can’t find a way to do that in the lab.” He says too much time and money is needed to take a medical discovery to market. “It was a hard transition, but I got this amazing opportunity to help people now, not 20 years down the road.” Their research lab is in the basement of their Spryfield home. “We have to try everything; sometimes the experiment tastes nice, but sometimes it’s not,” says Leticia. “You have to try 40 versions of the same bar!”
The couple enjoys Halifax with baby Lily and their teenage son, Jorge. Edgar hopes his bars become recognized as a top healthy snack in Canada and eventually in the US and Europe. “My primary goal is to help people and have a comfortable life for our family.”
He continues to work with a business counsellor and attends business networking and showcase events. “Without ISANS it would be harder. I got knowledge beforehand instead of learning through trial and error. ISANS does an awesome job.”