2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Philippe Poncet
Programs: Self Employment Program, Micro Business Loans
Program Years: 2005, 2007, 2009
Business Description: Parisian café and patisserie.
Even as a child, Philippe Poncet was passionate about cooking. He was fascinated by the smells of herbs and spices, and loved spending time in the kitchen. As a boy he dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
Then it came time to choose a career. He had no role models of men making successful careers out of working in kitchens, so he chose the booming field of engineering instead. That career eventually brought him to the University of Calgary where, after ten years, he still did not have a permanent teaching position. He began looking for an alternative.
During this time he would unwind on the weekends by making brioches and baking bread. He would cook for friends, testing and improving on recipes, preparing a beautiful table, making sure everyone was happy. He kept dreaming of opening his own café.
At the Job Centre, he heard about Momentum’s Self Employment Program. Momentum’s training and mentoring gave him the financial and planning skills necessary to run a business, and he began to see that he could, in fact, be successful doing what he loved.
When traditional banks turned him down because he had no professional experience in the trade, Momentum gave him a micro loan that allowed him to renovate a space and buy essentials such as flour, pans and a used oven. In 2008, he launched his business, a French patisserie. Three years later, he added a second location.
Philippe has worked many 100-hour weeks to build the business but it has been worth it to him and his family. His patisserie now has a staff of 12, including someone able to take on a lot of Philippe’s managerial workload. The business has grown consistently by 25% each year, and had sales of $500,000 in 2013.
In the summer of 2014, Philippe was proud and delighted to open a café next to his original pastry shop—his boyhood dream come true.
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.