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Entrepreneur of the Year
Every year, WEDI staff and its board of directors chose WEDI's Entrepreneur of the Year, a business owner from WEDI's Economic Development client portfolio that demonstrates a stable revenue base, year to year growth, and community impact. The winner is announced at WEDI's annual gala, Winterfest, and the business owner receives a monetary prize.
Meet our previous Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees
2022: Novi Paluch, owner of Sasmita Batik
Novi Paluch opened Sasmita Batik more than nine years ago in WEDI’s West Side Bazaar. Since then, she has offered a fine selection of handmade traditional Indonesian batik. After Sasmita Batik graduated from the West Side Bazaar in 2014, she sold in several retail locations including the Market Arcade, and is now in her own space at 43 1/2 Allen Street. Since 2019, Sasmita Batik has shown at the prestigious NYC Fashion Week. This past year, Novi was proud to highlight several new collections she designed and made available from Sasmita Batik. She is looking forward to using this recognition to inspire other entrepreneurs and encourage everyone to have confidence in themselves and their skills.
2021: Christine Uwimbabazi, owner of Prime Care Transportation
Christine Uwimbabazi is the founder and co-owner of Prime Care Transportation-founded in 2017. She has been immensely successful in growing Prime Care Transportation and created one of Western New York's leading medical transportation companies. After the pandemic disrupted the normal ways of life and the economy, Christine's steady and resourceful leadership provided Prime Care Transportation with true resiliency. WEDI wishes Prime Care Transportation many more future successes under the leadership of Christine Uwimbabazi.
2020: Tommy Summage, owner of A1 Express
A self-starter with a strategic mind and inner drive, A1 Express business owner Tommy Summage has grown his business to five cars has shown revenue growth each year. He named his business A1 Express so when someone searched for a transportation service, it would always be alphabetically first. Engaged, gracious and always the professional, his positive attitude makes everyone’s day and he accepts all constructive feedback that benefit his business goals. His focus to offer the best service possible to build a positive professional network has made itself apparent in his business growth and his multitude of professional relationships.
2019: Denise Serio, owner of 50/50 Marketing Partners
With over 30 years of experience in the marketing field, Denise Serio opened 50/50 Marketing Partners to help organizations fill the gaps in their marketing strategy with an experienced team of designers, copywriters and service providers. Her goal is simple: to help her clients grow through sales increases, market expansion, or improvement in ROI. To give small businesses access to big agency marketing services without the cost is what Denise enjoys the most about her job. Denise also gives back with her time and talent as a WEDI mentor. The support and encouragement from WEDI give her the confidence to be a successful business owner and Denise is honored to receive this recognition.
2018: Zaw Win, owner of Westside Value Redemption
Zaw Win, originally from Burma, opened his first business, a laundromat called The WASH Project, in 2010 as a safe place for refugees to do laundry. After the success of that business venture, Zaw opened Westside Value Redemption, the first can and bottle redemption center in West Buffalo, where, to further help the refugee community, he offered employment to the Buffalo refugee community. In 2018, he expanded Westside Value Redemption to a second location. Zaw Win and his wife, Naing, demonstrate an exemplary entrepreneurial spirit and are passionate about helping the refugee population succeed. Because of his skills as a business owner and leadership and dedication to the betterment of refugees in Buffalo, Zaw Win was named WEDI’s Entrepreneur of the Year. He is thankful for WEDI’s help to him and to the people in his community.
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