Pinoys who migrate to a new country would usually have an initial goal of successfully settling down and blending in. As much as possible, they would look for job opportunities related to their experience right away. Some would have a plan of having a business as a long-term goal. In most cases, they will just keep working to earn a living until they retire. It is rare for immigrants to become business owners within 5 years of moving.
Leilani Cornejo Gallant moved to Prince Edward Island (PEI) from the Philippines in 2013. She said that she never would have guessed she would be a wife and mother running her own business right now. Like other Pinoys, she first took a job at a fish plant as a temporary foreign worker. As she adjusted to the new environment, like all of her friends, she missed the foods from home. Back when she was in Taiwan, she previously owned a food store so she decided to do the same again.
She opened a small store in PEI named for her two sons. It is called “Two Brothers Asian Store”. As she was starting the business, she did not know where to turn so she decided to use her first kid’s child tax credit as her initial investment. Just like any other start-up businesses, it is a lot of work at the beginning.
“It was a lot of work and paperwork. I got approval from the city of Summerside, registered the business and took a food safety course,” Leilani said.
Leilani currently works with two Toronto distributors to bring in her specialty goods. She operates in the basement of the family home in a suburb on the edge of Summerside. According to Gallant, the investment is paying off as customers, mostly Filipinos, continue to discover her store.
The store started with one freezer of food and now has six! It is stocked with dried foods, canned goods, frozen foods and toiletries. Now that the business is growing, Leilani and her husband, Jason Gallant, are looking to expand. They are thinking of moving the shop out of the house and maybe turn it into an actual Asian Grocery Store.
It is always inspiring to see a fellow Pinoy have her very own small business success story. This should encourage more kababayans to pursue having businesses of their own so they can fulfill their long-term goals.
Source & Image: CBC