Students Empower Small Biz in West Side Community

April 26, 2012


BUFFALO, NY – Canisius College Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and Rich Products Corporation helped bring a taste of home to Buffalo’s Bhutanese refugees with the opening of Sagarmatha Groceries on the West Side. 

Rich’s sponsored SIFE’s Classroom and Community Partnership for Economic Development (CACPED) Program, with a $30,000 loan to be used as a student-managed micro-loan initiative for small business start-ups across Buffalo’s West Side community. It was through CACPED’s Refugee Economic Development Initiative that SIFE students identified community leader and businessman Kaji Sunwar as having great potential to launch a business in an area that needs revitalization. The students loaned the entire $30,000 to Sunwar at a low interest rate. He opened Sagarmatha Groceries, LLC earlier this year. 

A grand opening celebration is planned at Sagarmatha Groceries, 489 Grant Street, on Saturday, April 28 at Noon. 

The students worked closely alongside Sunwar, one of the first 60,000 Bhutanese Nepali refugees permitted to resettle in the United States in 2008. The city’s West Side, Black Rock and Riverside sections are now home to nearly 2,000 Bhutanese Nepali immigrants.

Under the guidance of Patricia A. Hutton, PhD, professor of economics and finance at Canisius and SIFE’s advisor, the students wrote a business plan for the grocery store. Students conducted market research to determine the general company description, inventory, services and pricing strategy. They examined startup expenses, equipment costs, staff budgets, and capital resources. The students also assisted with store set-up, marketing and advertising.

“Through the program, we are not only helping the community, we are giving our SIFE students the tools they need to successfully launch and run their own businesses,” said Hutton. “The students interact with Kaji every week and act as leaders through their strategic thinking and general knowledge. This is tremendous experience for our students.”

“We’re pleased to support Canisius SIFE as they strive to use sound business practices and instruction to educate, improve, and empower our local West Side community,” said Howard Rich, vice president of community relations. “More than 65 years ago, Rich’s began as a small business on the West Side. Over the years, through hard work and the support of our own mentors, our company has grown into a global enterprise. We are thrilled for the opportunity to give back to the community that has supported us.”

Sunwar has three years at three percent interest to pay back the loan to Canisius SIFE. SIFE will re-use the money for future loans.

Students in Free Enterprise is an international, non-profit organization active on more than 1,400 university campuses in 48 countries. To learn more about SIFE, visit

The founder of the non-dairy segment of the frozen-food industry, Rich Products Corporation is a leading supplier and solutions provider to the foodservice, in-store bakery and retail marketplaces Rich’s posts annual sales exceeding $2.9 billion and employs approximately 8,000 people worldwide, spanning six continents. Additional company information can be found and Rich Products on Facebook and via the company’s Twitter feed @RichsNews.

Canisius College is one of 28 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the nation and the premier private college in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their service to humanity.