Camosun program for immigrant women wins business award

The entrepreneurial women in Camosun College’s Mosaic Tastes have been recognized with the CWB (Canadian Western Bank) Women Makers and Creator’s award 2021 for Best Business Implementation.

Three women in green shirts reading "Mosaic Tastes" stand at a table with a display of spice blends.

The women in Camosun's Markets as Incubators program have worked together to develop a line of spice blends to sell at local farmers' markets.

Mosaic Tastes is a group of immigrant women in Victoria, eligible for settlement services, who study and work with a team of instructors and mentors in the college’s Markets as Incubators program, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They have created three spice blends – Baharat and Za’atar from the Middle East and Sazón from Latin America – to sell at local markets and have developed a free online cookbook.

“We’re so proud to win this award,” said course participant Amal. “We have worked very hard this year to develop our business during COVID. We first met in January and now have created friendships and a business that we believe in. Thank you to everyone who has helped us out – our friends, family, Camosun College and all the people we have met over the past nine months.”  

“For me, the most important part was to be able to participate in a real experience,” said Maya, who emigrated from Korea. “We created our products from the start and then brought them to the market. We were able to make friends and connections with a network of other international students and supporters.”

Leticia, originally from Baja, Mexico adds, “The program offers direct contact with valuable Canadian resources: citizens, markets and farms. It’s an incubator of cultures, introduces the world of commerce, and increases our vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency.”

The award includes $1,000 cash that Mosaic Tastes will use to grow their business.

As noted by the program’s coordinators, the Market as Incubators program builds on the wealth of knowledge and experience that participants bring to the table. Camosun College partners with organizations and local community members, including the Inter-cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA), BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) and individual market managers and vendors. 

A dedicated team co-teach and mentor the women to ensure that they have the language skills necessary to participate in maker, business and employment skills training. The women apply what they have learned to the development of a small collective business and sell their products at local farmers’ markets.

The second cohort of the Markets as Incubators program will begin in January 2022 and recruitment of eligible participants will begin shortly.

Find the Mosaic Tastes spice blends at the Oaklands Market, James Bay Community Market and online.

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Camosun College