Turning a Pain Point into a Successful Business
Before 2019, Busola Ahanmisi, the owner and founder of Lima’s African Store, would typically travel over an hour each way to get the specialty grocery items she needed to create the ethnic dishes that she and her family loved to eat. When the pandemic hit in early 2019, Busola decided that she had had enough of the long trips and the uncertainty created by on-and-off lockdowns, and decided to open her own specialty grocery store that catered to the growing African and Caribbean community in the Simcoe County region.
Lima’s African Store may be a small specialty grocery store located in Barrie, ON, but there’s nothing small about its vision and impact on the local community! In Caribbean and African cultures, food is a fundamental component of many family customs, and it is fairly common for individuals to spend many days preparing dishes for holidays and special occasions. The cuisine is plentiful and diverse, and the majority of authentic recipes are centered around ingredients and spices that are not sold in the typical grocery store. Lima’s African Store provides a convenient way for everyone in the community to get their hands on authentic African food items and spices.
Busola initially started her business out of her home, but as the business grew in popularity and moved into a brick-and-mortar location, she began to consider how she could provide more ways for her customers to purchase her products. Busola received the assistance and resources she required to start selling her specialty items online through the ShopHERE powered by Google program. With the help of her dedicated eCommerce Coordinator, she was easily able to offer the products she sold in-store on her newly built eCommerce website.
“The ShopHERE program is a small business saviour when it comes to digital marketing and everything that relates to it. The program helps small businesses when it comes to learning how to run ads on social media, building a website, and so on.”
By using the ShopHERE program, Busola was able to receive access to exclusive free eCommerce tools that would help her business grow, one-on-one support from a dedicated eCommerce Coordinator, and the skills needed to confidently develop and maintain her eCommerce website. With the evolution and exponential growth of online shopping and eCommerce, the ShopHERE program has provided Busola with the tools and resources she needs to help her business expand and succeed in this extremely profitable sector.
Through the use of one of ShopHERE’s partner platforms, Busola now has access to a variety of features that make setting up and maintaining an eCommerce store easier than ever. This includes being able to create and maintain a visually appealing online store that is easy for visitors to navigate, providing options for customers to pick up their purchases in-store or have them delivered to their homes, and being able to track stock and inventory with ease.
When asked to provide her insight on starting a small business, Busola wanted to share this advice with aspiring entrepreneurs:
“Each day has its own lessons, and no two days are the same. You have to learn to be consistent and continually learn to improve on yourself and your business… Do not give up. It's a trying period, but WE will come out of it winning.”
If you would like to learn more about Lima’s African Store, or even order some of the delicious food items for sale, you can visit the website by following this link. If you are a small business looking to get started on building an online store, you can sign up for the ShopHERE program here.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.