Satoca Bike is a Vernon business that was born through the Entrepreneur Immigration Program and it serves as a testament to how this program can bring in new businesses as well as new community members.

Satoca Bike is a family-owned business run by Mark Hope who arrived in Canada, along with his family, from South Africa in November of 2022. The Entrepreneur Immigration Program allowed the family to move to Vernon while also opening a business to contribute to the community.

"Vernon, being one of the bigger communities in the program and fitting with our business plan and the outdoor lifestyle, it all came together into what we were looking for and that's when we decided to go forward with this program," Hope says.

"It wasn't an easy process or a cheap process, but once you make that decision to immigrate to another country you know it's going to be a long process with costs involved, but it's definitely a way to get into Canada and start a business project and I would definitely recommend it."

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Immigration is a long-haul process and involves many steps and this is true for all immigration programs, but Hope says this program is the perfect opportunity for a family looking to establish a business while immigrating.

He and his family started their process in 2020, but it was then delayed by the pandemic. The process involved meeting with City officials and pitching a business idea and once the City recommended Hope and his business plan, he dealt with provincial and federal governments for the immigration process which also involved a business plan and timeline.

Two and a half years later, the Hope family arrived in Vernon and got started with their business plan in December. Four months later, in the last week of April 2023, Satoca Bike opened.

"The first season was pretty quiet, but it's definitely picking up as we start our second season and we're looking to employ a sales associate and a bike mechanic," Hope says. "We're looking forward to this spring season as we mostly missed last year's."

As business picks up for Satoca Bike, Hope shares that some extra support from the local business community could have been handy because the business and marketing process is quite different from country to country.

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"More help with things like licensing, taxes, registrations and maybe helping with ideas for marketing, which we're finding difficult. Just having pointers from local organizations would have been very helpful and appreciated, but, generally speaking, I would recommend the program and hope to see the City grow through it."

When it comes to the immigration side of things, Hope says resources were made available to him and his family and there's been help anytime it was needed.

"We have a point of contact in Vancouver who's been very helpful through the immigration process and continues to be. For the actual immigration side of it, there haven't been many problems; being English and Westernized has also helped us fit into the community very well," he says.

Hope and his family should soon be obtaining their Permanent Residencies, followed by their Canadian citizenships, as they meet business targets and deadlines, as required by the program.

To find out more about the Entrepreneur Immigration Program, visit the City of Vernon's website here and to learn more about Satoca Bike, visit the business' website here.

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