The P.E.I. Immigration Entrepreneurship Foundation is new non-governmental organization that will help Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs find the right channel to develop or invest in the P.E.I. economy.
Chang, who was one of the guest speakers, shared with the crowd at The Holman Grand Hotel what challenges he faced and how he overcame them so that P.E.I. could be a viable destination for him to do business.
“I realized it is not enough just to cater to the clients on P.E.I. alone,” said Chang in an interview with The Guardian. “Before I embarked on my business, I did some quite extensive market-research to find out how to make it a long term business venture.”
That venture was trading and he recently opened a business called Nova Beaux Arts selling art supplies like easels, stretched canvases and paintbrushes.
He decided to go into trading after watching so many of the Chinese immigrants, through the Provincial Nominee Program, struggle as they opened up shops and retail businesses in the province.
“Given P.E.I.’s demographic circumstances, I don’t think that is a good fit for newcomers who have very little local experience and business connection to really venture into something like retail, unless they are just exclusively for Chinese community.”
That is where the P.E.I. Immigration Entrepreneurship Foundation comes in.
Ricky Liu, chairman, said his organization will help new immigrants by providing consultation, showing them where local markets reside from real estate to agriculture and what sort of laws or regulations exist so they can invest in the P.E.I. economy.
“They want to invest and settle on this island but we found that most of them find some issues so the retention rate on the Island is really low,” said Liu. “You need to have career, otherwise you don’t you feel you are valuable, you are not part of the community.”
Liu said part of the challenge for new immigrants is the language barrier, the other part is not knowing how to approach or find the right information when looking to invest in viable industries.
“We know these challenges,” adds Liu who also runs a successful ecommerce business called GiGiGu with his wife, Ally Guo. “We want to help them.”
Some of the challenges Chang faced include lack of local credentials, staffing, office space and logistics for shipping art supplies out of China to P.E.I.
But he is hopeful after going to tradeshow in Salt Lake City, U.S., coming across good prospects south of the boarder.
“I’m trying get my foot in the door working with some American clients, where logistic challenges are a lot less and also the market is much bigger and hopefully by doing so I can have some credentials and the references to expand my Canadian business.”
Chang hopes to eventually supply commodities to studios and paint night workshops in the Maritime Provinces then branch out nation wide.