Words by Smiley Team
Coming to a new country already has its own host of challenges, and the circumstance of that migration may pile on more. In a country like the United States, breaking into business and expanding work can often be hard for those that don’t have a background in the country or credit to support them.
The West Side Bazaar – a food court in Buffalo – is looking to change that.
Located in the West Side of Buffalo, New York’s downtown the West Side Bazaar is a project started by the nonprofit WEDI (the Westminster Economic Development Initiative). WEDI was founded in 2006 with a goal of improving the quality of life for the underserved population in Buffalo’s West Side, that at the time was experiencing a massive influx of immigrants, primarily of Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern descent.
Now, WEDI has emerged with a dual focus on education and economic development, both of which manifest in the West Side Bazaar.
The Bazaar itself features a multitude of cultures, including cuisine and products from countries like Burma, India, Iraq, Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, South Sudan, and Thailand.
WEDI and the Bazaar help prospective entrepreneurs secure microloans, build credit, and educate them on the ins and outs of running a business. The West Side Bazaar also has a waitlist, of over 120 prospective businesses, and WEDI provides much of its educational resources to those on the waitlist. Even if their business isn’t starting right away there’s still access to business education.
Now, many of the businesses that started in the Bazaar have expanded and have begun peppering Buffalo. As for the Bazaar itself, WEDI is amid a multi-million dollar capital campaign to renovate a new Bazaar space that will be five times the size of the current one.
SUPPORT: If you want to help support other refugees making their way in the US check out ICNA Relief USA.
DONATE FOR IMPACT: You can donate to WEDI to help them continue supporting refugees through the West Side Bazaar.