business succession opportunities entrepreneurship immigrant entrepreneurship OIN opportunities

Digital Napkin: Sarnia-Lambton’s Entrepreneur Community

Digital Napkin - Sarnia-Lambton's Entrepreneur Community

From Digital Napkin

Entrepreneurship in Sarnia Lambton is booming. The area has thousands of entrepreneurial businesses.
This is something that we in Sarnia Lambton often forget and something that those outside the area simply don’t know about.
Entrepreneurs are everywhere in Sarnia Lambton. They are in agriculture and industry. They are in services and sales. They are young and old. They are creative. The diversity of the entrepreneur community reflects the diversity of the Sarnia Lambton economy.

We hope to inspire Sarnia Lambton with stories from the entrepreneurs in our midst. We hope to show that Sarnia Lambton is more than just beautiful beaches, challenging golf courses and a caring community.

Sarnia Lambton is the home of opportunity, entrepreneurship and business in Ontario.
It’s time for us to tell our story.

Are you an Entrepreneur?
Do you want your story told? All you have to do is contact the Digital Napkin and we will interview your to capture the story behind your business.
What’s in it for you?

The Digital Napkin is viewed by hundreds of people from the Sarnia Lambton area, the local region and across North America every month.
Your story will be told to a large audience. It may be the subject of further coverage. Most importantly, your story will be a key part of our effort to have Sarnia Lambton be seen as the entrepreneurial and economic powerhouse that it is.


Our New Website!

Ontario Immigrant Network Logo
New OIN logo –

Welcome to the new

Our new website – – has been revamped to better reflect our desire to better support our goal of connecting immigrant entrepreneurs to business succession opportunities. By working with key stakeholders,
we aim to make rural communities sustainable by helping them to attract and retain immigrant entrepreneurs.
This goal represents the culmination of 18 months of research under a Labour market Partnership, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities.

While our LMP has concluded, we are able to continue our work with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Through OTF funding, Ontario Immigrant Network will be able to continue its pilot program in Lambton County. In collaboration with the Sarnia-Lambton Econic Partnership, the Sarnia-Lambton LIP, the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board, the Southwest Economic Alliance, and others, we will build a program that will take skilled, educated and experienced immigrants, and connect them to business succession opportunities that maximize their human capital.

This site is quite a bit different from our initial site – which is still available here – as it is meant to be an example of a web portal that could be used by an economic development agency of other stakeholder to promote their community, immigrant success stories and business succession opportunities. This new layout (and some new features) are very much a work in progress. I welcome any feedback that you may have, as we move from an informational website to a platform that is interactive, and ultimately a call to action.

Rodolfo Martinez
Project Manager, Ontario Immigrant Network

success stories

Success Stories – Shawn Lee, Pantry Mart

Ontario Immigrant Network Logo
New OIN logo –

Success Stories – Shawn Lee, Pantry Mart – Aylmer, Ontario

During our research, I had the pleasure of interviewing several successful immigrant entrepreneurs. The first was Shawn Lee. Shawn is a South Korean immigrant who successfully manages the Pantry Mart in Aylmer Ontario.

View Larger Map
You can view the YouTube video below to learn more about Shawn’s story:

immigrant entrepreneurship

Immigrant Entrepreneurship – A Boost for our Communities

immigrant entrepreneurshipLast year, over 250,000 newcomers choose Canada as their new home. Often these newcomers flock to centres such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. While these cities certainly offer diverse communities and a multitude of newcomer services, they may also be contributing to a substandard experience.

A recent study showed that Toronto was the most miserable city in Canada, and this was due in large part to the high proportion of immigrants. This is not to say that immigrants make others and themselves miserable, but rather that there is a mismatch between immigrant expectations and outcomes, particularly in larger centres. Each year, we actively seek the best and brightest from developing nations, and only a small percentage are able to find opportunities that match their skill sets.

Refereed to sometimes as “Taxi Driver Syndrome” many foreign trained professionals end up in low-skilled jobs. As newcomers adjust to their new lives in large cities, they often become entrenched in ethnic enclaves and from there, the integration process is seriously hampered. Credential recognition is an ongoing issue, and few fields allow for an easy transition into a career that is aligned with a newcomer’s past experience. We see this across all regulated professions, and across all ethnicities. However, there is one unregulated profession that does not care about your ethnicity or where you obtained your credentials: entrepreneurship.

Many immigrants come to Canada seeking a better life, and often they turn to entrepreneurship to do so. Why? Because if they have the business accumen, courage and the right idea, they need not be limited in what they can achieve.

Newcomers are naturally risk takers, having given up so much to come to a new country. Poverty, persecution and even death are just some of the risks faced by many immigrants. The risk of business failure is likely miniscule in comparison, and with the motivation to create a new life, immigrants are clearly an excellent source of new entrepreneurs.

Check back later this month for more on why immigrant entrepreneurship is just the boost that our communities need.

entrepreneurship immigrants newcomers OIN News

OIN Pilot

Our inaugural conference was a great success, and I really would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved, and outline how important their participation was to our overall project.

Based on the feedback that we received during our conference, we generated 10 key recommendations that form the basis of our pilot. This is an exciting time for OIN, as we have moved from research to action!

We are now working actively with our key partners, especially those in Sarnia-Lambton. Through their innovative website, we will work to launch content targeted specifically towards immigrant entrepreneurs.

Be sure to follow @rodolfo_oin on twitter and be sure to book mark!

Rodolfo Martinez
Project Manager, Ontario Immigrant Network