Dyana Biagi, Aji Gourmet Products, SurreySurrey
Dyana Biagi came to Canada from Colombia. She recalls that becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a conscious choice, Dyana just happened to fall into the opportunities. When her children were small in Colombia, she decided to stay home for the kids; however, her creativity led her to develop a series of rideable foam toys. She consulted with a friend and before she knew it, she was in business.
When her family immigrated to Canada in 1999, Dyana was keen to hold onto her Colombian traditions, and permanently kept a bottle of Aji sauce in her fridge. As Dyana’s children started playing organized sports in Canada, she was invited to end-of-year potlucks. She was asked to bring guacamole—despite not being Mexican—and, at the last minute, simply added her Aji sauce to some mashed avocados. The response from the parents was phenomenal, and she was encouraged to sell it commercially.
“We have big dreams, and it is a long road.”
A chance meeting with someone in the Specialty Foods industry led to a food distributor connection. The food distributor told Dyana that “If you make it I will sell it!”. That was 16 years ago. Dyana’s Aji sauce is now in over 300 stores!
Dyana finds it very rewarding to see her business grow. She says the positive feedback from customers “makes everything worth it, and being able to give back to the community is our main driver. We have big dreams, and it is a long road”.
She says that it has been hard work getting through COVID, but says the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund loan she received from WeBC in 2020 was a HUGE help. She also says that the Women’s Entrepreneurship grant program from 2019 was incredible, flexible and the grant “moved our company forward leaps and bounds”!
The positive feedback from customers “makes everything worth it, and being able to give back to the community is our main driver.”
Besides the grant and loan, Dyana says that her team has just started to explore the services offered by WeBC, but have already participated in a few webinars which they found to be helpful and informative.
Dyana says that women entrepreneurs need to stick together and help one another. With 8 Aji sauces for sale in stores across Western Canada (from BC to Manitoba), Dyana is growing her business with her family and her community by her side.