Aquinas Youth Event Links Up with City’s Immigrant Business Week

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YEP hosts a Kasama Cafe pop up at the VietLEAD Tet Celebration at Furness High School in February 2017.

During the City of Philadelphia’s Immigrant Business Week, Aquinas Center is hosting a networking event, dinner, and panel for teens who are part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP). The event takes place on Thursday, March 30th from 5-7PM at Aquinas Center and includes business owners from Raza Properties, Kayuh Bicycles and CafeKoliyan, and Sky Cafe as well as students from Drexel University. The session will be facilitated by Sinta Hite from Modero Dance Company and Carid Maranan, the YEP Coordinator, who is a business student at Community College of Philadelphia.

Teen program participants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their resumes and hear business leaders discuss their thoughts on the following questions:

  • What businesses have you started and what was or is your brand like?
  • How did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
  • How does being a first or second generation immigrant shape your approach?
  • What have learned about yourself through launching a business?
  • What advice would you give young people who are first starting out in business?

YEP was initiated by a group of teens who gather weekly to collaborate with their peers on projects that improve, strengthen, and empower the community. This group, called Youth Voices, is comprised of immigrant, refugee, and native born youth who lead tours for the center, speak about pressing issues, support events, introduce visitors to the neighborhood, and give back through community service hours.

In July of 2016, Aquinas Center was awarded a local three year grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to pursue youth based business ventures that emphasize economic justice. Teens, with the help of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, developed a brand name called Kasama, which is a tagalog word that captures the idea of companionship and journeying together.

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Logo in hand, the teens have rolled out a series of pop-up cafes hosted at the center, the local parish, and around South Philly. They continue to grow their skills through research and by leading tours to immigrant run food based businesses in the neighborhood.

Kasama Farmstand will debut later this year as the growing season unfolds. Teens plan to sell produce and flowers from the Aquinas Center’s Multicultural Community Garden. Next year, they will begin to explore opportunities for a shelf-stable food product that both represents the cultural influences of their family heritage.

To learn more about the business activities that are part of the City’s week long celebration, visit: https://beta.phila.gov/posts/office-of-immigrant-affairs/2017-03-09-immigrant-business-week-2017-march-27-april-1/

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