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This success story recipient got funding because they took the first step and contacted our Centre to learn about their funding options. Although we cannot guarantee you will get funding, the more you know about others experiences the better your chances.

ON Artist Carves a Niche with Government Grant for $8,770

Grants help sculptor purchase home with garage-workshop as well as specialized tools
Arts & Entertainment
Hamilton, Ontario
Government grant sets artisans future in stone

Government grant sets artisans future in stone

Aziz-Ghawi Mohammad Alhusainy worked as a stone and marble sculptor, and owned three art galleries in his native Baghdad. But the political climate, government restrictions, and the hardships resulting from the sanctions against the country by the United Nations Security Council, which began in 1990, made his career increasingly dismal.

"We didn't work with the government. Other artists who worked with the government got money from the government because they were doing something the government liked -- like Saddam pictures. We couldn't do that." And the sanctions meant that the only foreigners who came to Baghdad were UN arms inspectors.

So while they continued to work on their own art, to make a living he and his colleagues turned to "commercial art", making copies of old masterpieces and doing portraits on commission. The inspectors, who became his friends and customers, gave him a sense of what was happening within the Hussein regime.

"This situation made me leave Iraq," he says. He and his family, including four children, packed up in 1999 and moved first to Dubai, where he sold art, and then to Jordan, where the couple's fifth child was born.

Then, in November of 2003, the family moved to Canada, but as an immigrant Alhusainy was slow to get back into art. He did some work and taught art at the Islamic School of Hamilton. "But I was shy to act in Canada," he says. "It was hard for me." Then something happened.

Watching television one evening, he saw an ad for the Centre for Small Business Financing (CSBF). "To be honest with you, the big change happened when I read the announcement on TV," he says. "I had many ideas to start a small business, but I never put them down in a practical way. My way of thinking changed. I started to think like a businessman even though I hadn't started a small business yet."

Government grant opens up new opportunities for immigrant entrepreneur

The first thing he discovered was that he could get a $7,620 government grant to help buy a house. A big garage would allow him to begin working with stone again "In the past I was paying $1,500 for rent. Now I pay about $1,000 for mortgage and property tax and my house has a big garage which I used it as a studio."

Next, he learned about a government funding program offered by the Ontario Arts Council that provides government grants of $500 to $1,500 to assist artists with the costs incurred when arranging an exhibition. Alhusainy received $1,150. This money helped him buy tools to work with marble, including an air compressor and an electric saw, as well as marble itself, alll of which is expensive.

His exhibition at The Pearl Company gallery in Hamilton was a great success. "It went wonderfully," says Alhusainy. "It was a great start, and I'm going to stick to my field."

He is now waiting to hear on another funding grant for emerging artists, and he has been part of other exhibitions, including showing at The Sabawoon, Hamilton's outdoor art fair, and a solo show he recently wrapped up at the Pearl Company.

Both family and small business grow upon fertile Canadian soil

The couple sixth child was born in Canada, and the family feels at home here now. Alhusainy's entrepreneurial fire has been stoked once again. He is considering opening a gallery once more. He is also exploring opening a restaurant with his wife, who is a great cook.

While he's not sure exactly which path he'll take, he knows he'll be charting his own course. "I want to tell you, all these changes happened to me since I saw the Centre for Small Business Financing ad. I bought a house. I started the art exhibition. I am now thinking like a businessman, and I feel I have not even started yet."

If you are an entrepreneur interested in starting your own small business, consider looking into the CSBF website to find out about the financing options that are available to you, you can also call toll free at 1-866-682-2402 for further assistance.

CFSBF has no affiliation with any program, and no claim is made that funding is guaranteed.

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