How Sankara Helps Entrepreneurs Bring Their Culture To Atlantic Canadians ‘On Their Own Terms’

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How Sankara Helps Entrepreneurs Bring Their Culture To Atlantic Canadians ‘On Their Own Terms’

How Sankara Helps Entrepreneurs Bring Their Culture To Atlantic Canadians ‘On Their Own Terms’

Lynch said she and Atansi, who hails from Cameroon and Nigeria, started Sankara in 2017 as a social enterprise that grew in scope.

“We would cook different African dishes from those countries and sell them to people–and appreciated their response,” said Lynch, remembering Sankara’s early days.

Sankara sells an assortment of foods, crafts, and grocery products made by racialized vendors across the community who are not charged for use of the platform.

Every product sold on Sankara is made and curated by a chef or artisan. Lynch said that, over the past years, vendors from 25 different countries–including Brazil, Mexico, Korea, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Haiti–have sold goods on the website.

“You kind of get to experience their culture on their terms,” noted Lynch. “These are all folks who’ve chosen to come to Canada for various reasons and use their culture to make money and establish community connections on their own terms.”

Lynch, who is white-Afro-Indigenous, said she and Atansi got to witness the determination and business endeavors of the market’s other business vendors and it inspired them to build and develop a marketplace for that.

“Being that it’s Canada, and you can only stand outside and sell at a public market for so long, we decided to pivot to an online market format,” she said.

Named after Thomas Sankara, the pan-Africanist revolutionary from Burkina Faso, the marketplace sells goods from a variety Atlantic Canadian of vendors in Fredericton, Saint John, Quispamsis, Rothesay, Grand Bay-Westfield, Halifax, Moncton, and St. John’s.

Lynch said she and Atansi chose Sankara’s name as an  example of someone who believed in self-determination, unity, and integrity, “and as a way to move forward without neo-colonial control.” Those, she says, are all guiding principles behind their marketplace.

“In our case, we used [Sankara] as a sort of inspiration that immigrants and refugees and anyone racialized has a right to determine their own future and use their culture as a tool to create revenue and make an impact,” Lynch said.

Lynch told Huddle Sankara’s unique mandate gave it the first-move advantage in Atlantic Canada, since it was the only website that offered food from multiple international vendors in the region in an era before services like SkiptheDishes and DoorDash.

“That was sort of challenging–trying to let people know about ordering food online. But now that people are familiar with it, it’s been really beneficial to us –especially with the pandemic.”

Moving forward, as the pandemic winds down, Lynch said she and Atansi are planning to launch a series of culturally friendly ready-to-eat meals, made by immigrant chefs.

This is a departure from Sankara’s current system where meals have to be bought in bulk with a five-meal-per-order minimum.

“The ready-to-eat retail project will allow people just to grab and go one meal at a time” Lynch said.

“To retail locations in New Brunswick, we’re encouraging anyone who wants to see these meals offered at their shop or retailer site near them to connect with us and let us know,” she said.

Afrotimes Newspaper

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