By Mary Teresa Bitti
Toronto — It’s been a busy week for Arnon Melo, founder and managing director of Mellohawk Logistics, an international freight forwarder based in Toronto.
His company has just been recognized for its leadership role in community building by Scotiabank and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Big Impact Challenge awards program.
Mellohawk was selected because of its commitment to actively hiring new immigrants and its mentorship program for students to learn about logistics and/or study English as a second language.
Giving new immigrants an opportunity is a way Mr. Melo can pay forward the opportunity one of his first bosses in logistics gave him. Mr. Melo first came to Canada in 1986 to study English.
“I fell in love with Toronto and felt a close connection to Canada. I just knew I was meant to be here,” he says. In 1990, after finishing his undergraduate degree, he immigrated to Canada from Brazil with the dream of one day owning a business.
It’s a dream shared by many new immigrants. There are 2.7 million small businesses in Canada and increasingly the entrepreneurial landscape is being influenced by new Canadians, who are more inclined to be self-employed than are Canadian-born citizens. This is particularly important as small business is increasingly becoming a critical economic driver.
According to Winning Strategies for Immigrant Entrepreneurs (WISE 5) — a project funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ontario region — in the past 10 years, 98.5% of all new jobs in Canada were created by companies with less than 100 employees, and nearly 60% were created by companies with fewer than five employees.
As the demographic shift takes hold and a majority of small business owners get set to retire, Canada will need more entrepreneurs to step in. Citizen and Immigration Canada’s goal in funding WISE 5 is to encourage and support new immigrant entrepreneurs.