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CIBC Spotlight on Osadia: The Online Ethical and Fair Trade Marketplace

Futurpreneur | December 18, 2017

Futurpreneur Canada recognizes the hard work, determination and passion it takes to start a business. That is why we teamed up with CIBC for a campaign to recognize the milestones (big or small) that our entrepreneurs reach while starting and growing their businesses.

As a part of the campaign, we’re encouraging our Futurpreneurs to share their start-up successes using the hashtag #FuturHighFive on social media. Brenda Marmolejo of Osadia is one of those success stories.

Most would agree that spending an extra few dollars than normal to support companies that ethically source their products is worth it.

Knowing that a community is being uplifted and not marginalized by your purchase provides peace of mind since you know that your money is going to a good place.

Brenda Marmolejo is a professional engineer by day and social entrepreneur by night. She believes in ethical purchasing and sourcing so she took her passion to create Osadia, an online ethical and fair trade marketplace.

“Osadia is where customers purchase handmade products that are chic, useful, unique but more importantly, sustainable, ethical and meaningful,” said Brenda. “It is a social enterprise that’s committed to empowering and supporting vulnerable communities around the world.”

Brenda is originally from Mexico and has a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the Technological Institute of Monterrey. She later received her Master’s degree in Quality and Safety at the University of Magdeburg in Germany. This well-travelled entrepreneur is also a board member of the Women’s Centre of Calgary.

“Coming from Mexico, I understand how millions of artisans in developing countries struggle to get access to international markets and this limits them to reach their full potential,” she said.

Brenda continues: “After having many conversations and brainstorming with my husband, we came up with the idea of creating an online platform to help artisans, designers and social enterprises get exposure and scale their business, and at the same time, provide a different shopping experience to consumers.”

The founder recently shared her #FuturHighFive moment on social media regarding their product line expansion.

“We recently became part of the Futurpreneur Canada family and with the funding and mentorship provided by this program, we have been able to expand our online venture, increasing the number of products and working with more partners and artisans around the world,” she said,

As the online marketplace expands, it’s important to acknowledge the impact this business has on global communities.

Osadia’s marketplace now sells handcrafted baskets made by women artisans in Africa that support educational programs. The jewelry created by human trafficking survivors in India provides employment and financial independence to its artists. Lastly, their new handbag collection made by Mayan women from Guatemala provides economic opportunity for a sustainable future.

With such a unique business model, it can be hard to find the right mentor. Luckily, Brenda has obtained funding from Futurpreneur that provides not only the additional capital to grow her project but a volunteer business mentor to help her along the way.

“When Futurpreneur was looking for a mentor for me, they called me to clearly understand my business needs and any issue that needed to be addressed and based on that information they tried to find a mentor that would provide the help I needed,” she said.

“No matter how brilliant or experienced you are, as an entrepreneur, we always need a little help. Having a business mentor will help to avoid many mistakes, keep you focused and define strategies and long-term goals. A mentor can also help to expand your network and community connections and is a constant reminder that you are not alone in this.”

For anyone looking to start their own project or business, Brenda encourages you to “Just do it!”

She adds: “Don’t be afraid to fail either. I have met people with great ideas in mind, but they don’t dive in because they are afraid to fail. Also, develop a plan and review it regularly. Keep close track of your numbers and adjust your plan accordingly.”

Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media & Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada

Want to be featured in a #FuturHighFive Entrepreneur Spotlight? Share you start-up milestones using #FuturHighFive on Instagram and Twitter!