Our Best Immigrant Heritage Week Awards Event Yet

May 02, 2019

by Yanki Tshering

Each year our annual BCNA Immigrant Heritage Week Awards seems to get better and better, and this year was clearly no exception.

That's because, along with our two inspiring speakers and this year's very deserving awardees, there is also the growing pride we feel as, year after year, we welcome back previous awardees and clients and see how they and their businesses continue to thrive and grow.

This year over 200 attendees networked over a breakfast provided by Eat Offbeat - a social enterprise that provides food prepared by talented refugee home cooks from around the world. Tasty treats included Kibbeh, hand shaped minced meat potato croquettes, and Fatayer, chicken and mushroom pies with pomegranate molasses. 

Commissioner Bitta MostofiWe were very excited to have Commissioner Bitta Mostofi of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs with us to present this year's awards, and also to take a moment to remind us of the many reasons we have to celebrate New York's rich diversity, a diversity that also contributes to making New York City the safest big city in the United States and the fastest growing economy.

The awards ceremony opened with a keynote by our BCNA Visionary Award winner, Melissa Jun Rowley, who spoke eloquently about her own experiences as a New American adopted from Korea, as well as about the displaced people she meets, as she travels the world supporting social justice and innovation projects, who are forging new lives for themselves. As she accepted this year's Visionary Award, she reminded the audience that they – entrepreneurs, small business owners, students, and professionals – are all driven by their own vision too, they are all visionaries.

This year's Job Creator Award went to Archana Pokhrel, who came to the US from Nepal and is the founder and CEO of Lenox Spa and Nails, a business that has created 11 jobs and continues to add more. We are also very pleased to announce that Archana has joined BCNA Voices, a speakers bureau of women business owners who are ambassadors for BCNA and experts in their sectors.

The 2019 BCNA Innovation Award winner is Nelson Nigel, the founder and CEO of Kidmoto Technologies, a mobile app that allows families travelling to and from airports to book cars that are equipped with children's safety seats. Nelson, who came to the US from Guyana when he was five, plans to expand the growing company from New York and Philadelphia to several other states this year.

This year's new BCNA Made in New York award, was presented to Autumn Adeigbo, founder and CEO of Autumn Adeigbo Designs. Her company, which has hired over 20 women to date as consultants and freelancers, produces a colorful, dynamic collection, originally inspired by the outfits her Nigerian-born mother made for her as a child.

And finally the BCNA New Beginning Awards, which recognize successful graduates of BCNA's IDA Program - a financial training program that provides match grants to refugees who have saved money to start a small business or to further their education - went to three outstanding students and entrepreneurs:  Barsha Basnet, Alassane Thera, and Reza Khodaverdian.

Deepti Sharma, a former BCNA Board member and founder and CEO of FoodtoEat.com, then led a lively panel discussion about "How Digital Marketing Contributes to Your Business' Success."  Panelists included BCNA clients and awardees Nelson Nigel, founder of Kidmoto Technologies; Archana Pokhrel, founder of Lenox Spa and Nails; and Autumn Adeigbo, founder of Autumn Adeigbo Designs; as well as BCNA client Annabelle Santos, Founder of Spadet, a company that creates and very successfully markets soap products made with natural ingredients that are safe for sensitive skin.

Our heartfelt thanks, as always, to our sponsors, board members, partners and our fantastic BCNA team, who made this great event possible.

To quote the Musical Hamilton: "Immigrants, we get the job done!"

See you again next year!