Westside Bazaar started holiday season in good atmosphere. This special season branded as Small Business Saturday (SBS), brought together a lot of people from different areas of Buffalo for holiday shopping and get a special food. SBS started a couple days after Thanksgiving Day and it was an occasion to support local businesses, which directly benefits the Westside economy.
Happy and delighted to share food on the occasion, attendees visited also industries service. As of now, 16 businesses operate in West Side Bazaar, and the space has attracted Buffalonians and foreigners. Cuisines from around the world constitute one of the attractions at the Westside Bazaar. A panoply of international food at the Bazaar enables people to take out or eat right there food from different cuisines, including Burmese, Thai, Ethiopian, Pakistani, Indian, Jamaican cuisines and so forth.
Besides food, people enjoyed to buy good handmade products from various vendors of the Bazaar. All 16 small businesses are financially supported by Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) founded by the Westminster Presbyterian Church Fund with the purpose of improving the quality of life of the residents of Buffalo West Side.
Michelle Holler, Manager at Westside Bazaar, indicated “WEDI helps in many ways for starters, helping them to get appropriate permits, insurance and so forth. We offer them a micro loan if they need extra financial support when starting up a business” she said.
Once a person gets a loan and starts business, WEDI continues to support him with the provision of a business coach who assist the day per day activities to help grow the business.
Ma Theint from Burma is one of the vendors at Westside Bazaar. Arrived in Buffalo in 2004, the former teacher in her native country began selling clothes and different products from different countries like Thailand, China, Korea, Singapore and Morocco.
“WEDI helped us to start our business with small loan and they connect us with customers. I think they are doing a great job as they help us survive with our families” she told Karibu News.
Immigrants and refugees come to the U.S. of America with their degrees and diplomas, but they cannot go back into their careers. Doing business is an easy way for them to start a new life in a new country.
College graduate in statistics science major, Needia Youssef never did business in her native country. She came to Buffalo from Iraq Sep. 2014. By Feb. 2015, she received a small loan from WEDI. Nadeen started her business with few macramé she was doing herself. Today she sells handmade macramé wall hangings and art in Westside Bazaar located on Grant Street.
“I started with few macramés, but now, as you can see, I sell a lot of them and people like my products” she said.
Westside Bazaar vendors told Karibu News that doing business is part of integration in the new country. They expect one day to run big businesses and move into bigger spaces at the Bazaar.