The Pictou County Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the deCoste Performing Art Centre in Pictou to create a speaking series showcasing local community “game changers,” who include refugee entrepreneurs.
The first event in this series brings together B.C. entrepreneur Mark Brand, Peace by Chocolate founder Tareq Hadhad and Dragon’s Den winning social entrepreneur Barbara Stegemann at the deCoste theatre on March 22.
“This is a first for Pictou County and we hope it will inspire and encourage our local entrepreneurs,” said Jack Kyte, executive director of Pictou County Chamber of Commerce in a release.
Hadhad’s story began at a chocolate factory in his hometown of Damascus, where his father worked as a highly regarded chocolatier for 20 years. Their factory shipped sweet treats across Syria and the Middle East before the civil war broke out in 2011.
Like much of their homeland, the Hadhad chocolate factory was destroyed in a bombing that forced the family to leave everything behind and flee to Lebanon. After three years in a refugee camp they were accepted for resettlement in Canada.
With the support of their new community in Antigonish and the people of Nova Scotia, they have rebuilt their chocolate company and are once again doing the work they love.
Since he founded Peace by Chocolate, Tareq Hadhad has done over 100 interviews with different news teams, and organizations and has been featured as a TedX speaker. His family's story is a compelling one to hear.
“Our mandate is wider than entertaining our patrons, it is also to engage and inspire audiences to learn and improve their lives and their community. We see a niche in Nova Scotia to present world-class keynote speakers outside of metro [Halifax],” said Troy Greencorn, deCoste’s creative director.
Hadhad is joining Stegemann, whose entrepreneurial vision formed after her best friend—a soldier—was severely wounded in Afghanistan.
She felt that supporting Afghanistan’s economy was key to giving its people a stable future, so she created The Seven Virtues of Beauty. Her company sources organic oils from parts of the world experiencing turmoil, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East and Rwanda.
Despite addressing complex global matters in her talks, Stegemann uses humour to explain how individuals can use business for good and effect change, both at home and abroad.
Stegemann became known to millions of Canadians when she became the first woman from Atlantic Canada to land a venture-capital deal on the CBC TV show Dragons’ Den for her company.
She went on to become the “Top Game Changer” in the history of the show for creating her social enterprise.
Social entrepreneur Mark Brand realized his dream of becoming the owner of Save On Meats five years ago, a Vancouver butcher shop and diner that has provided food security and access since 1957.
In 2013, he created The Token Program, an alternate currency to feed those in need without a cash exchange. Since then, almost 100,000 tokens have been redeemed to fill empty stomachs.
More than one million meals have left Save On’s doors to feed those in need.