Our Marketplace (ourmarketplace.ca) is a new online entrepreneurial project that formed during the pandemic. The goal of the venture is to provide local businesses and entrepreneurs, in the St. James Town area, with an on-line platform to promote and sell their goods and services. The platform was started by Tolani Mak and Chelsea Hamel, both of whom had formerly lived in St. James Town and were long-time admirers of the community. They decided to come up with Our Marketplace as a way of creating new opportunities for local entrepreneurs, many of whom are from diverse communities, to contribute to the economy.
Considering the COVID-19 restrictions, connecting small entrepreneurs in St. James Town with one website for neighbourhood businesses, could be a very empowering tool for vendors especially if they lack the technology, skills, and resources to deliver their goods online.
One of the great features of the website for potential customers is that it is interactive — simulating an actual shopping experience.
The community response so far has been very positive. “This is definitely a need,” said Hamel, feeling proud to be a part of the big picture, finding actual solutions to challenges in the neighbourhood.
According to Hamel, “Our Marketplace is a true example of what love of the neighbourhood can do.”
Hamel and Mak are encouraging people and small businesses to connect with them. Even if you haven’t started your business yet, the two entrepreneurs would be happy to support you and give advice to help you start your business.
If successful, Hamel and Mak hope to bring their marketplace pilot to other neighbourhoods in Toronto.
To see an interview with Tolani Mak and Chelsea Hamel, visit: https://youtu.be/gKC84OzuGfg
Nea Maaty is a journalist with the Focus Media Arts Centre ~ a partner of The Corner.