‘We’re 1.2 million black Canadians and we need to find a way to connect ourselves economically’
Wandering up the grocery aisles in Canada, Lola Adeyemi always felt the taste of home was missing. With the help of a mentor, she’s now launched a soup business to change that. (Talia Ricci/CBC) When Lola Adeyemi decided to leave behind a career in information technology to start her own line of African-inspired soups and stews, it seemed there was no one she could really relate to who could guide her through the process of starting her own business.
Adeyemi first moved to Canada from Nigeria about 15 years ago as an international student. But she could never quite find the taste of home in the grocery aisle. Other flavours and tastes seemed to be available in abundance, but the chicken peanut and fish pepper soups she knew so well, for example, just weren’t there.
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“That’s a gap that I thought I could fill,” she said. But getting her company, “It’s Souper,” off the ground wasn’t easy.
“I think one of the struggles when I started the business was having somebody who looked like me, has been through the same struggles as an immigrant like me that I could reach out and say, ‘Hey, I want to start this business. What are the struggles I might face? What are the challenges I might face?,’” she said.
‘Jumping into the water with sharks’
“The fact that was nonexistent was almost like I was jumping into the water with sharks and I didn’t have any protection. I didn‘t have anyone guiding me on the path to take or not to take.” The newly-launched Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce hopes to change that.
The non-profit organization held its launch event Thursday evening in Toronto, with the aim of creating better economic opportunities and growth for Canada’s many black communities.