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Opportunity Theme: Local Immigration Partnership
Immigrant Entrepreneur: Sumant Sarin
The winner of the Immigrant Entrepreneur Award is Sumant Sarin. This marks the first time a married couple have received awards. Sumant is married to Shelley Sarin, who received an award in the Immigrant Mentor category. This nomination was also provided by Arjun Batra.
Arjun states that, "…Sumant has all the qualities which a diehard entrepreneur should have which also includes giving back to the community… His many qualities include (being) a creative thinker, knowledge seeker, and a calculative risk taker."
Sumant was born and raised in India and has since lived in the United Kingdom, the United States, but has called Canada home since 1999. Sumant received his MBA in Canada. He is the CEO of Insight Business Group, is a regulated Canadian immigration consultant and a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Sumant has become one of the leading names in Canada for student recruitment in international education. He is an expert in the India-Canada education corridor and has worked with multiple post-secondary institutions in Canada including locally Georgian College but also Douglas College and Camosun Colleges in British Columbia, Algonquin College in Ottawa, Winnipeg Technical College in Manitoba and Durham College in Oshawa and the University of Toronto.
During the time Sumant worked with Georgian College, he recruited thousands of international students. Arjun Batra, Sumant's nominator was one of these students. Arjun remarks, "Recruiting international students was his job but being a mentor was a choice. He definitely improved the life of many residents who looked upon him as an inspiration." Today, Sumant's business provides job opportunities to several Barrie residents in Simcoe County including new immigrants and his company also provides internship opportunities for international students.
Sumant's true entrepreneurial spirit is also reflected in his recent acquisition of "Logan's Restaurant" on Bayfield Street in Barrie. It turns out he is also a licensed realtor!
Sumant gives back to the community and has been a sponsor and active volunteer in the Diwali celebrations in Simcoe County. Sumant was also a key supporter in promoting the game of Cricket in Simcoe County and is a volunteer with the Barrie Cricket League.
Please join us in congratulating Sumant as the 2014 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winner.
Business Success Story: Jun's Roll
Jessie and Jun admired Canada as a land of adventure. While living in Tianjin, a large city in China, they applied to immigrate to Canada. After arriving in Toronto in 2003, Jun secured employment in Penetanguishene as an engineer with an automotive company. There they began their Canadian adventure and had their first daughter. They were surprised by the generosity of their coworkers and neighbours who gave them a stroller and baby clothes to celebrate.
The company Jun worked for closed down after a few years. They relocated to Barrie for better labour prospects. Jun was soon employed by a company near Waterloo and returned home to Barrie on the weekends.
In China, Jessie worked as a Chinese/Japanese translator but she was always interested in the large restaurants that her family owned and operated. She began cooking and selling food at the Barrie Farmers' Market in the summer and was encouraged by customers to open a restaurant. While pregnant with their second daughter, Jun and Jessie decided to take on the challenge of opening a family restaurant. They found a location on Collier St. near the Barrie Farmers' Market. Jun resigned from his job and through online resources learned about operating a business in Canada.
At the market, Jessie offered samples of traditional Chinese food, using recipes from her family's restaurant. Customers were eager to try the small portions but Jun and Jessie struggled to attract customers into the restaurant to order a meal. Customers were hesitant to order food that was too unfamiliar to them.
Through the support of their family and church, Jun and Jessie began reviewing their menu. Over time, and with much trial and error, they found the right balance of Chinese cultural food and menu choices that residents in Barrie were interested in. "Before, I never tried chicken balls. Our customers asked for them and now I love them too! It's a top seller!" laughed Jessie.
With so much time and money spent on finding the right menu options, Jun and Jessie had little money left for advertising. "They (customers) didn't know who we were. Advertising is most important," stated Jun. "You need to spend the money to advertise. But it is hard in the beginning when you are making no money." Determined to make their restaurant known, they now advertise in the newspaper, internet and Canada Post door-to-door mail. Customers began to know about the restaurant and they now have regular customers for the lunch buffet.
While it has been a struggle to grow the customer base, Jun said, "You cannot stop once you start. It provides for the family and we invested so much."
"When people try our food and are satisfied, it encourages us," said Jessie.
"We came to Canada for adventure. This is a part of it," added Jun.