In this episode I visit the West Side Bazaar, a community of small businesses run by mainly refugee and immigrant owners in Buffalo, NY. The West Side Bazaar is an Initiative created by WEDI (Westminster Economic Development Initiative) that acts as an incubator for small businesses and supports entrepreneurs on their path to becoming successful business owners. I was interested in traveling to Buffalo, NY to feature this story because I found it extremely inspiring that many of these entrepreneurs had left war-torn countries, navigated their way to America and still had the courage within them to try to tackle the feat of starting a business in a foreign country where they did not know the language, nor have the resources. Their desire to live a better life, and their fight to work for it embodies the spirit of a Relentless Mind and I am honored to have been able to give them a platform to break their silence and give them a voice.
I want to thank WEDI and Bob Doyle, director of the West Side Bazaar, for facilitating interviews between Relentless Minds and the refugee entrepreneurs at the West Side Bazaar. I interviewed 3 incredible women, Zelalem, Nadin and Julienne, whom so graciously shared their stories to inspire others with their fearless examples of resilience and strength.
The West Side Bazaar has also been featured in other publications like the New York Times, Toronto Star, The Washington Post and Le Monde.
Here are some other great things WEDI has accomplished!
- WEDI has invested over 110 microloans totaling over $1.2 million in small businesses across Buffalo.
- WEDI has lent to nearly 100 different entrepreneurs in Buffalo, NY, of whom 82% were a minority, 49% were women, and 89% were low-income.
- Eighty eight percent (88%) of WEDI-financed businesses are still in operation following 7 years of lending.
- Most WEDI-supported businesses are profitable within the first three years.
- From 2012 to 2017, business counseling services supported over 950 burgeoning entrepreneurs.
- The West Side Bazaar has hosted 44 small businesses, creating and maintaining over 50 jobs, and graduates many start-up businesses into the market.
If you would like to support the efforts of the WEDI organization in Buffalo, NY, please visit their page HERE