Join Local First Donate Local First Directory

Navigation

< Back to Blog


Refugee Business Spotlight: Everest Marketplace

Refugee Business Spotlight: Everest Marketplace

Kai Koopman
2/4/16
Local Business, Diversity, Social Entrepreneurs

Immigrant entrepreneurs have always been part of the American Dream. Time points-out that 40% of the U.S.’s Fortune 500 firms and “untold millions of smaller businesses” were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. This phenomenon is evident across the country and right here in Grand Rapids.

Nandu Dangal, owner of Everest Marketplace in the Towne and Country Shopping Mall at 4301 Kalamazoo SE, arrived in Grand Rapids as a refugee in 2008. Everest Marketplace is Dangal’s second venture, boasting colorful displays of traditional clothing, produce and packaged food from various South Asian cultures.

Dangal’s first job in the U.S. was housekeeping at a hotel, but the job was difficult to keep because of sporadic bus schedules during the winter months. With little English and few prospects during the recession, he struggled until landing a job at Meijer, which he held for five-and-a-half years. “Working as a cashier, and then in customer service at Meijer taught me so many things about doing business.” This vital job experience helped Dangal dream for a future as an entrepreneur.

Before long, Dangal was taking business and home ownership classes at an area college while working extra hours as a cab driver, factory worker and interpreter to put away money. Like many other immigrants and refugees in Grand Rapids, he transformed hard-earned wages into a thriving career. In 2012, he had saved enough money to open his first business and purchase a home.

Dangal says he’s “always had a vision, not only for personal success, but also helping others.” Since 2008, many Bhutanese refugees have resettled in Grand Rapids after long years sojourning in camps in Nepal. Dangal and other members of the Bhutanese community have thrived in Grand Rapids. “They are buying homes at a very high rate,” Dangal reports. Part of his success has been helping others put down roots. “When I came to the U.S., I needed an interpreter. Now, I am an interpreter.”

Six months ago, Dangal was able to purchase space for Everest Marketplace, which provides familiar foods, like panipuri, to the Bhutanese community--and also to Burmese, Somali,Tanzanian and customers from other parts of the globe. Dangal is already planning a small deli to share Bhutanese food with a wider array of customers by summer.

Dangal’s success supports research that shows effective economies keep important places for immigrant workers. Thriving refugee businesses like his are an indicator of a broader strength we share in Grand Rapids. In addition to starting businesses, refugee and immigrant workers buy homes, pay taxes and purchase goods--a boon for all involved in our local economy.

Everest Marketplace
Open 10am - 8pm, 7 days a week

More in Category

5 ways to enjoy fall in West Michigan

5 ways to enjoy fall in West Michigan

Fall is a beautiful season in West Michigan as the air becomes cooler and leaves on the trees transform from green to orange, red and yellow. With West Michigan being home to the Fruit Ridge – one of the best fruit-growing regions in the world – there is an abundance of orchards and farms to explore and plenty of apples and fresh cider to enjoy during the fall season.

Read...

The Dos and Don’ts Of Event Marketing

The Dos and Don’ts Of Event Marketing

Marketing an event for your business can be both exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time. There can be a list of marketing deliverables that is a million miles long, and you may find yourself wondering if you’ve missed something.

Read...

Measure What Matters: Mosby’s Popcorn

Measure What Matters: Mosby’s Popcorn

Mosby’s Popcorn was founded in 2016, fueled by a love for popcorn, kids and family. Brian and Denise Mosby, owners of Mosby’s Popcorn, originally got their idea for starting a popcorn business from a family member who also owned a popcorn business.

Read...

1st Annual “City Hacks GR” Tech Weekend & Hackathon

1st Annual “City Hacks GR” Tech Weekend & Hackathon

The Midwest Tech Project has partnered with Theta Ventures to organize the 1st Annual "City Hacks GR" Tech Weekend & Hackathon Sept. 14th-17th.

Read...

Ypsilanti-based investment firm announces additional dates of local investing education workshops

Ypsilanti-based investment firm announces additional dates of local investing education workshops

After much work and anticipation, Revalue announced that they will have a second round of Michigan's local investor education initiative, under the name Grubstake.

Read...

Elissa Sangalli Hillary honored as 2018 GRBJ Sustainability Newsmaker

Elissa Sangalli Hillary honored as 2018 GRBJ Sustainability Newsmaker

From the statewide roll out of Good for Michigan to celebrating Local First’s 15th Anniversary to kicking off our annual Fork Fest in the fall, 2018 was an exciting year for Local First, our members, and community partners.

Read...