OTTAWA — Naomi Muise stood up in front of the crowd and with practised ease and a twist on the famous alcoholics anonymous greeting, she said “My name is Naomi, and I’m an entrepreneur.”
Naomi hasn’t led an ideal life. she was born into a family of alcoholics, moved around the country, and even with a college background wasn’t able to get the kind of employment needed to raise two kids as a single mother.
“I was really young mom. I was a teen mom,” said Muise. “But, then I went back to school and I got two years of business and one year of international trade training. So I beat the odds. But then life got tough again.”
After her father died, Muise moved to Vanier and started working waitressing jobs to help pay the rent. Her outlook for the future wasn’t great, but with two children, one soon to be a college-aged daughter, Muise needed to find some inspiration, and some muffins to go with her morning coffee.
Celiac disease prevented Muise from being able to properly digest wheat, so a gluten-free lifestyle, a supportive partner, and a son who is a harsh critic led Muise to her new-found business, a gluten-free bakery.
“I started writing a business plan,” said Muise, “and learned all sorts of things about gluten intolerance, and I was like, ‘This is terrible!’
“I wanted to help the world.”
After much trial and error, as well as some funding from the government, Muise hit the proverbial wall. She couldn’t afford ingredients for her gluten-free muffins without buying in bulk; the $300 per kilo of ingredients was way out of her price range.
This is when, through personal contacts she was told to go to RISE, a micro-finance charity out of Toronto. After looking at her business plan and meeting her, they agreed to invest $5,000 in CeleeakNak, Muise’s gluten-free kitchen.
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