BY: KRISTINA RAMCHARRAN
Imagine a place where the community could come together and promote their businesses. Where people can interact and network with one another while marketing their products, services, and ideas to others. Also, a place that does all of this while educating the community and helping them grow from a business aspect would be an ideal place to be.
That and much more was exactly how the third annual Toronto Caribbean Business Social was, as the excitement filled the halls of the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton. The day started early at 10 am when people began pouring into the venue to check out the wide array of vendors that were present. From food vendors to real estate and everything in between, the Toronto Caribbean Business Social was truly the place to be if you wanted to network with others and check out everything that the Greater Toronto Area has to offer.
While people browsed what the business community had to offer in the vendor marketplace, VIP and Silver ticket holders were treated to a star-studded lineup of guest speakers in the conference hall. The event, which took place Sunday, May 7th, included Michie Mee, Maestro Fresh Wes, Chelsea Stewart and more.
Amongst the vendors present, there were those present to sell their products, such as books, make-up, and food, and there were those there to advertise their services, such as mortgage and real estate agents. Gena Estrella of the LS One booth said that they were there to advertise their new app to attendees but more importantly to other vendors and business owners.
“Basically my husband is Caribbean, and we wanted to tap into a lot of diverse communities,” said Estrella on their specific demographic for their new LS One app. The application acts as a tool for business owners to brand themselves and make advertising easier.
“We wanted to help small business owners, franchisees and online vendors to promote and market their companies,” added Estrella on the purpose of LS One.
The LS One app helps users market their brand at the touch of their fingertips, and luckily for all of the vendors at the Business Social, LS One granted them all 12 months of app usage for free, as a way to help others and get the word out.
The event also featured vendors returning from last year such as Travidocs. Richard and Nevin at the Travidocs booth said they had a great experience at last year’s social, so they couldn’t help but return for another year.
“I could see that there’s a lot of different variety of people here, a lot of families which is good,” said Richard on noticing the expanded reach of this year’s Business Social.
Nevin noted that Travidocs works well for all demographics and makes applying for a visa much more simple and affordable. “Basically we take the whole visa application process and we simplify it down for anyone to use,” he said.
There were also vendors present selling a very unique array of products, such as Michele Donovan launching a new product into Canada that is all about making water tasty but healthy.
“We’re all about hydration with a purpose,” said Donovan on the launch of the M Network’s line of flavor stix for water.
“Water can be boring, bland not the most exciting thing to drink,” added Michele, noting that the new product is not only healthy, but also a fun and tasty way to drink water. She also noted the business social is a great way to make people aware of tasty water without any added sugar.
Apart from the vendor marketplace, the other vital half of the social was the conference hall, which featured keynote speeches from hip-hop artists Michie Mee and Maestro Fresh Wes, as well as business personalities like retail magician Daniel Lewis and Carib 101’s Brandon Vyedelingum and Toronto Caribbean’s CEO Grant Browning.
Canada’s queen of hip hop spoke on the importance of building a brand, and how to do so with minimal or no starting capital. She also performed some of her hit songs as the crowd grooved to her sound.
Daniel Lewis of T by Daniel brought his energy and expertise to the stage as he spoke about his rise to success and how any business professional can bring creativity into their branding to distinguish themselves from the rest.
Throughout the conference, comedians Marc Trinidad and Jay Martin brought the laughter with their hilarious jokes, including a pepper sauce competition, where they competed as team Trinidad versus team Jamaica.
The highlight of the conference hall keynote speeches was none other than that of Canadian hip-hop godfather Maestro Fresh Wes, where he spoke about paving the way for Canadian hip-hop without precedent and perseverance in the music industry. His keynote was also followed by an impromptu performance of his famous hit “Let Your Backbone Slide.”
His advice to struggling artists, which he noted was also applicable to business people of all sorts was, “Don’t make records, make history. Because anybody could make a record. Making is history is doing something [so] that people check for you years and years and years later.”
He also noted his career choices helped mold his current views on the music industry, and also helped shape the future for other Canadian artists on the rise.
“When Michie came up and when I came up, we did not have elders showing us what to do. A lot of it was instinct. A lot of it too, we learned from the younger cast coming up,” said Fresh Wes.
He closed off his keynote with one powerful statement and noted, “vision is a forward moving motivated attention.”
The Toronto Caribbean Business Social featured vendors and attendees involved in all aspects of business and reached a steady flow of attendees throughout the day. The Toronto Caribbean newspaper and Carib101 Media corp. thanks everyone for their attendance and involvement in making their third business social something special.
Stay connected to the Toronto Caribbean newspaper on Facebook and Instagram for picture galleries and highlights from the event.