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13 inspiring business ideas; 5k in prize money

We are #CWBproud to announce Taina Feitosa as the pitch competition winner for the third annual Start Up Challenge for immigrant women.

Taina is the Founder of Not Just a Pretty (Inter)Face – a digital consulting business that supports small businesses to start their first online store, migrate existing stores to more robust platforms, and integrate software and processes to enhance productivity.

Taina’s decade-long career in eCommerce began while she was completing her undergrad in Fashion Business and Marketing in Brazil. She applied to work part-time at a local retailer and ended up taking their online presence from a catalogue page to a fully integrated site. After managing inventory and customer service for a couple of years, Taina realized her true passion was in store development so she took the entrepreneurial leap and began her own consulting business.

Taina dove into eCommerce consulting but faced immediate challenges. In her words, she struggled to manage multiple new bosses at the same time. This prompted Taina to return to school where she invested in a graduate degree in eCommerce Management & Strategies.

Taina immigrated from Sao Paulo, Brazil to River Bourgeois, Cape Breton three years ago. Shortly after she arrived, she took a position with the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce. Here, she learned a ton about local business and connected with CWB local business advisor, Courtney Schmidt.

“COVID-19 was the biggest catalyst in launching my business,” says Taina. She had the eCommerce skills, could see the gap in digital adoption on the Island, and saw that the deadline to submit to the Nova Scotia Consultant Directory was coming up. This was the push that she needed to hit publish on her website.

Taina landed her first client through the directory and additional clients organically after that.  She remembers asking a local store what frozen soup they had in stock and receiving an image of the fridge in response – a natural fit for her services to integrate online sales and inventory management. Taina often found new clients by working with shops that she already bought from.

Soon after getting her first clients, Courtney referred Taina to the Start Up Challenge. The challenge provided an opportunity to craft her business plan. She says that the challenge forced her to stop working in the business and work on the business – a strategy that paid out in the end.

Related: Welcome new members and Start Up Challenge participants!

“The resources in Cape Breton are overwhelmingly positive. There are so many programs and grants that it can be hard to keep track, which is a great thing,” she says. “Brazil had resources, but not like these. To all immigrant women who want to open a business, Cape Breton is the place to be. I am very happy to have found these women and organizations here.”

When asked what’s next, Taina says her sights are set on developing a communications and social media strategy. As she grows, Taina wants to hire remote collaborators in Nova Scotia, specifically immigrant women, providing an additional source of income and encouraging them to stay in the province.

The Nova Scotia Start Up Challenge is delivered by the Centre for Women in Business, Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub as part of the Workforce Innovation and Inclusion Project (WIIP). This project includes a series of pilot initiatives supporting economic inclusion for newcomers, including entrepreneurship, funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The Challenge takes place over four weeks and provides the opportunity for immigrant women to develop their business idea, receive one-on-one coaching, engage with women leaders, and participate in a final pitch competition for a $5,000 award.

In February 2021, 13 women who bravely immigrated to Nova Scotia within the last five years pitched their inspiring business ideas. Participants immigrated from places around the world including Russia, Nigeria, China, India, and Jamaica. Business ideas ranged from bakeries and daycares to natural soap production and sustainable products for kids.

Each participant had three minutes to pitch their idea followed by a short question and answer period. We were fortunate to be joined by an esteemed judging panel with representatives from TD Bank Group, Business Development Bank of Canada, and East Coast Credit Union.

Thank you to everyone who makes this annual challenge possible.