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Vancouver, Canada

To Bean or Not To Bean?

Superior Tofu Community Fund

June 18, 2009

By "giving back" Immigrant entrepreneurs create opportunity for others

Rita Cheng

Rita Cheng

If genuine integration is a mutual dynamic between the newly arrived and the local community – then “success” happens when “community” is no longer defined primarily by ethnicity, religion or culture.

As Superior Tofu, a Vancouver based business describes it, “Our heritage is Chinese. Our roots are family and the local community – regardless of ethnic origin.”

In 2007, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, Superior Tofu created the Superior Tofu Community Fund with the help of the Vancouver Foundation. The purpose of the fund was to help them give back this community at large.

To date, this has included donations to the Richmond Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, the Royal Columbian Hospital, Red Cross, United Way and Breast Cancer Foundation. Superior Tofu also sponsors regular community events throughout the City and donates significant amounts of tofu to local schools for their lunch programs.

Founded in 1982, Superior Tofu is the result of three generations of tofu making knowledge. This Vancouver based business now produces a variety of tofu and tofu products from soy desserts, drinks to tofu puffs. They have annual sales in the millions and continue to grow their markets- with a current focus on exporting into China.

For Rita Cheng, the President of Superior Tofu and founder of the Superior Tofu Community Fund, both the business and the ability to now give back to her community is an immigration story that has come full circle.

“I grew up with stories of my grandparents’ tofu store, which they started in Vancouver in the 1940′s. My grandfather made tofu in an old building situated in the outskirts of Chinatown. The small, ground-level rented room served its purpose well. My grandparents lived upstairs in the same building in small living quarters. As an entrepreneur, Grandpa sold and delivered his hand-crafted tofu blocks in big white pails filled with water. He towed his old red wagon daily through the Chinatown streets delivering his tofu orders” reminisces Rita. See video.

The Superior Tofu Community Fund that Rita created operates like a savings account that will grow, and each year, a portion of the income generated will be used by the company to offer grants to non-profits of their choosing. The choice of a community fund was deliberate since, “I wanted to give back on a permanent basis,” explains Rita. A community foundation focuses on addressing all kinds of needs in the local community as well as building legacies in those communities. A community foundation can offer advice to its donors on emerging community needs, innovative projects and opportunities to make a real impact.

Rita admits that the experience of her family have given her a soft spot for issues that relate to new immigrants, but says to open to all projects and charities that need her support. “We’re all here as part of the bigger community of humankind. My goal is to work to improve people’s lives – whatever that may be or whatever they may need – whether it is music lessons, a place to live or whatever.”

Making it Work for You:

  • Giving back through volunteering and other forms of community service helps others and creates strong bonds of attachment and belonging.
  • Take time to evaluate where the success stories are in your community or field of work, and create opportunities to share those stories with others.
  • The definition of community expands and changes overtime and is a strong indicator that dynamic 2-way integartion is taking place successfully.


For this Good Idea contact:

Rita Cheng
President
Superior Tofu Community Fund
1436 East Pender St., Vancouver, BC,
V5L 1V8
T: (604) 251-1806
E: prez (at) superiortofu.com
http://www.superiortofu.com/


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