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This ByWard Market program is empowering immigrant entrepreneurs in Ottawa

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A shipping container in the ByWard Market is housing something different and delicious.

"We specialize in empanadas. They come from Latin America," says Ivana Hernandez, co-owner of Delights by Mama.

The business, Delights by Mama, is part of a new program developed by Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada, allowing new Canadians to test their businesses in a real-world setting.

"It’s just basically an opportunity to help other immigrants, a new wave of immigrant entrepreneurs, get an easier start in their immigration and entrepreneurship journeys," says Karla Briones, founder and CEO of Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada.

The pop-up shop is part of the Summer Retail Incubator 2024 program, offering participants hands-on experience and direct feedback from customers.

"Every week is going to be a different immigrant entrepreneur test-marketing their products and being able to access a high-traffic retail location," says Briones.

More than 20 companies will take their turn this summer in the shipping container pop-up on York Street at ByWard Market Square.

"I love it. I think this is great, just to get your product out there," says Jessica Gutierrez, co-owner of Delights by Mama. "Everyone's been so welcoming, so I really, really love it."

Getting their food in the hands of customers brings Delights By Mama closer to opening their own restaurant.

"It's going really good. We’ve had a lot of questions, a lot of Spanish-speaking individuals who are coming from abroad and also surprised to see that Latin American products are in Ottawa," says Gutierrez.

This program offers a practical platform for entrepreneurs to show off their products, refine their business strategies, and build a customer base in a vibrant market environment that they might otherwise never get.

"It gives us the opportunity to have exposure, and let the community know us," says Hernandez.

Throughout the summer, the popup container will house everything from chocolate to hot sauce, and even pet accessories.

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