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Startups May Be the Alternative to the Alberta Economic Crisis

Startups May Be the Alternative to the Alberta Economic Crisis

Posted by PanamericanWorld on April 06, 2017

Starting a new businesses is always risky and the success rate is low. Launching in a slow economy is all the more difficult. 

Aja Horsley was working a stable job as an agriculture researcher for a Calgary college when she decided to leave and launch a startup. Seven months ago she entered the business of selling honey, and she is now selling her product on store shelves in every province in the country. 

Horsley is one of a number of entrepreneurs spurning the downturn to start a new business, according to city data.

In fact, she credits some of her sweet success to the sluggish Calgary economy: it compelled her to try her absolute hardest. 

"It was motivation for me to do something better than maybe I wouldn't have thought twice about if the economy was better," said Horsley, who launched Drizzle Honey. 

Her honey is in 65 stores right now. Her goal is to reach 200 stores by the end of the year. The poor economic climate in the province is also why Horsley branched out. 

"I knew Calgary wasn't going to be maybe the be-all and end-all of where I could have the product, so it forced me to reach out and say 'OK, Alberta's not doing great, let's look at some other retail avenues.'"

'Bigger challenge'

"People are more cautious now about spending their dollars," said Ali Asghari, who holds the North American distribution rights for an organic energy drink called Pilot's Friend. "Yes, we will have a bigger challenge."

So far, Asghari is selling the drink in some specialty stores and fitness centres in Calgary, while negotiating to be carried by a national supermarket chain. 

Alberta is still recovering from the oil price crash in 2014 as energy companies cut spending and eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. Many well-known stores and restaurants in Calgary have closed during the downturn, but just as many new shops are opening.

About 7,200 businesses closed in 2016, while almost 7,400 new shops and stores opened, according to business licence data kept by the City of Calgary. The difference is that more of the new businesses are likely home-based.

Alberta's economy is expected to grow modestly this year, and that has some entrepreneurs optimistic about their future.

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