Immigrant entrepreneurs have made many contributions to the economy and business community in Nova Scotia. In the early 1990s, the federal Immigrant Entrepreneur Program attracted a large number of applicants to Nova Scotia. Newcomers found their way to MISA, looking for support in understanding the local business environment and establishing their enterprises. MISA began serving this group of clients through a pilot project in 1992 – the Immigrant Entrepreneur Orientation Program (IEOP), run by Emily Wu.
The following year, the program was funded jointly by ACOA and the province of Nova Scotia. By 1995, Nova Scotia received over 3,500 newcomers and almost 60% of those were business immigrants. That year, our province had 12.5% of all the business immigrants to Canada, ranking third in the country. In 1996 Nabiha Atallah was hired as Manager of the Immigrant Entrepreneur Orientation Program and remained in that position for ten years.
At first, the program consisted of six weeks of presentations about the basics for starting business in Nova Scotia. Soon, networking events were added on a regular basis. MISA argued successfully that the program should be open to all immigrants, regardless of category, and that it should be able to continue to serve those who had already established their businesses. The program grew and its name changed to Immigrant Business Development Services (IBDS) and later, simply BDS.
In 2014-15, ISANS provided 43 business training sessions to 343 clients. Immigrant clients opened 19 new businesses in Nova Scotia and 72% of the businesses opened in 2011 -2012 were still in operation as of March 31, 2015. Today, ISANS dedicated team of business professionals can assist you with training sessions, networking opportunities and resources. Whether you are starting or growing your business, we have services and programs available to assist you!