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: Heydi Panameño
Programs: Women’s Venture Program, Micro Business Loans
Program Year: 2006
Business Description: Video production of real-life stories of the experiences of newcomers to Canada, and offering information on community resources.
One of Heydi Panameño’s first memories is of her second night in Belize. She was five years old, and her family had just escaped the war raging in El Salvador. As she listened to the silence that night, to the absence of gunshots and bombs, she realized she was hearing the sounds of peace. From that moment, Heydi has been passionate about the possibility that all children might one day live in peace.
As an adult working for ten years with social service agencies here in Canada, she saw far too many new immigrants lose their children to a system overwhelmingly different from what they understood. This forged a second passion, to help other newcomers to Canada understand how to live here well.
With a degree in fine arts, Heydi acquired the storytelling and video production skills to bring both passions to life. Escape was her first project, a 12-minute video about her return to El Salvador to begin healing, something necessary for many new immigrants and their families. Producing it brought home to her that being an artist was only part of the picture; to succeed,
and to move beyond being penniless, she would need to learn how to run a business.
At Momentum, Heydi not only learned business skills but developed the confidence she needed to start Panameno Productions. The company makes award-winning films and commercials. Its newest project brings her two passions to life: a series of training videos that tell real-life stories from each of Calgary’s immigrant groups, in their own languages, showing how to live
and parent in Canada.
In addition to her production company, Heydi runs a full-time day home so she can be close to her child, has published two books with a third on the way, and volunteers with various immigrant-serving agencies. It’s no wonder she defines success as a good night’s sleep!
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.