BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
Venturing to a new land and coming to settle in a new country is an intimidating notion. To live in a new and foreign place without the comforts of home can make you a little homesick and craving for anything that will remind you of the comforts of home.
As an international student, the prospect of leaving your friends and family and moving to another country can be challenging. While attending the University of Saskatchewan, Economic student Gibson Odoka found this to be all too true. While serving as the international student representative on the U of S Student Council, Gibson gained valuable insight from students like him who were having issues finding products that they were accustomed to having back home.
He found that it was unfair and it didn’t make sense that there was no solution to this problem. Working with other international students he realized it was a common issue faced by most and so he set out to help make the transition easier with the creation of a website that allows access to products from these students’ home countries, which cannot be found in Canada.
El-Cuzupa Marketing Inc. was established in late 2015 in Saskatoon before relocating to Toronto in 2016, as a company retailing diverse international products that are shipped directly to the customer via courier service, including food items, clothing and music, among others. With the obvious increase in Canadian immigration with regards to the Syrian Refugees and others who immigrate to Canada as well as the increase in tourism and the amount of international students accepted to Canadian Universities, this website offers a care package of items to help them settle in and gain easy access to the comforts of home.
After launching the website in the University, Gibson found that it was becoming popular with international residents that were not attending U of S, but searching for somewhere that they could find a piece of their native land. Drawn to the multicultural diversity of Toronto he thought this would be a great central location for the business with access to so many different cultures and backgrounds. These people were missing products from their home countries and Gibson’s website offered a quick and easy solution to their problem.
Fellow international student Lynn Fan who works alongside Gibson at El Cuzupa Marketing agrees with this innovative project catering to the needs of international students and newcomers to Canada. Originally from China, she attends the University of Toronto and was having trouble getting rid of her nostalgia. When she heard of the idea for this website, she felt that it was a great way to gain access to the things she missed most about her home land including games and other social activities that she could use to bond with the Asian community here in Toronto.
The products on the website range from clothing to toiletries, food and other cultural products from countries all over the world. They offer inexpensive and convenient access to these products bringing the comforts of home to people wherever they are and offering international products cheaper than can be found on most mainstream websites or local supermarkets that might carry some of these items.
“We are making life easier for both the seller and buyer,” explains Gibson, recalling his travels abroad, speaking to tourists and backpackers traveling all over the world who had the same concerns about not having ready access to products they need from home. “This is something that has been going on for too long and it’s not only affecting one group of people. Immigrants from different places and people all over the world have voiced their concerns about these issues.”
Gibson’s website takes away the added stress of having to track down stores in the community that might sell specific products people might be looking for, keeping an online market inventory that can be accessed conveniently online and shipped directly to their doorstep. He explains that opening an African store in somewhere like downtown Toronto can become expensive and might be inaccessible for people living out of the city. His online inventory is an all nations store committed to filling the needs of people on a Global scale.
Focused on helping the needs of the international communities living in a foreign country Gibson and his team have been working on expanding their reach, doing research to find out what products people need. Their website service users from Australia, Europe, Asia and North America are happy as they are able to get the comfort of home abroad. It was built to support immigrants, tourists and international students in Canada by providing a cheap and easy way to access international products from their home countries. Products from over fifty countries around the world are available and is bringing everyone a little bit closer together everyday.
Their main office is located at 46 Spadina Avenue, in Toronto and you can visit there website at www.cuzupa.com for all your international product needs.