This summer, SP Vancouver and their neighbors hosted the inaugural Strathcona Artisan Market (SAM)—an outdoor market featuring musical performances, art stations for kids, and over 25 vendors selling hand-made art, crafts, textiles, and food.
The aim behind SAM is to empower low-income neighbors towards greater economic security through entrepreneurship. We hope the market serves as a catalyst for the development of successful small businesses, and we have plans to work with vendors in other ways, including micro-finance, market access, and business mentoring.
A great illustration of our hope for this initiative is Loretta’s catering start-up. Loretta is a single mom we met through our local elementary school. She’s worked in the restaurant industry, but has been out of work for a few years after she and her daughter had to flee an abusive situation. She’s had a dream of starting a catering business as a way to increase her income and do what she loves most: cook!
Even before the market, we were able to connect Loretta with people in our networks who need regular catering at meetings. What the market did for her was provide a venue to sell her food to the public and to greatly expand her network of potential clients. She has already gotten one regular catering gig from a new contact made at SAM. Going forward, Loretta has asked us to help with the legal side of business set-up and website development. She also ended up being our best recruiter for new vendors for SAM!