Immigrant Heritage Week Awards

We were thrilled to welcome keynote speaker Aline Sara, co-founder of NaTakallam, and Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of  Small Business Services, to honor outstanding refugee and immigrant entrepreneurs at the 7th Annual BCNA Immigrant Heritage Week Awards, on April 19th, at the SIFMA Conference Center.

The event also featured a panel discussion, "How Immigrant Food Businesses Leverage the Intenet as the New Word of Mouth" moderated by journalist and photographer Nina Roberts.

See more information in our blog post.

Photos from the event:

Aline Sara
Keynote Speaker Aline Sara, co-founder of NaTakallam, a language learning platform, which leverages the internet economy to help support displaced persons' livelihoods by pairing them with over 1,800 language learners in more than 65 countries.

Gregg Bishop
NYC SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop addressing the room before presenting the awards to our honorees.

(From left to right) NYC SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop, Bootstrap Entrepreneur Awardee Ahmed Mbaye, Keynote Speaker Aline Sara, Job Creator Awardee Sharmila Sherchan, New Beginning Awardees Pema Omu Lama, Virginie Atake, Muhammad, BCNA Board Chair Larry Rubenstein and Executive Director Yanki Tshering.

Bootstrap Entrepreneur Award winner Ahmed Mbaye (second from left), and his family.

Job Creator Award winner Sharmila Sherchan (second from left) with her husband and children.

Women's Peer Group join Virginie Atake (second from right), one of this year's New Beginning Awardees, along with BCNA's Francess Smith (second from left).

This year's panel, discussing how immigrant food businesses leverage the internet as the new "word of mouth".  From left to right: journalist Nina Roberts (moderator), Deepti Sharma Kapur (BCNA Board Member and owner of food delivery service, Godshelter Kwesi Oluwalogbon (co-owner of food truck DF Nigerian), Nabin Sherchan (co-owner of restaurant Mustang Thakali Kitchen), Khalid Hamid (owner of Island Pops, Caribbean ice-cream), Denys Gorbatiuk (owner of Den's Hot Dogs), and Manal Kahi (co-founder of



8:30 to 9:00
Breakfast and Networking

9:00 to 9:20
Keynote Address by Aline Sara

9:25 to 9:40
The BCNA Immigrant Heritage Week Awards
Presented by Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services

Visionary Award: Aline Sara, NaTakalla
Bootstrap Entrepreneur Award: Ahmed Mbaye, Mbaye Transportation Service
Job Creator Award: Sharmila Sherchan, Chef and Owner of Mustang Thakali Kitchen
New Beginning Award: Pema Omu Lama, Virginie Atake, and Muhammad

9:45 to 10:45
Panel Discussion: "How Immigrant Food Businesses Leverage the Internet as the New Word of Mouth"

Moderator: Nina Roberts, Journalist & Photographer


Deepti Sharma Kapur, CEO of Food to Eat, BCNA Board Member
Godshelter Kwesi Oluwalogbon, Chef & Owner of DF Nigerian Gourmet Food Truck
Nabin Sherchan, Chef & Owner of Nepali restaurant Mustang Thakali Kitchen
Denys Gorbatiuk, Owner of Den's Hot Dogs
Manal Kahi, Founder of Eat Offbeat