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From doctor to businesswoman: the journey of a Brazilian immigrant in Edmonton

By Fernanda Rocha on December 9, 2023

Renata Cesar, or just Renata, as she likes to be called, is 33 years old and arrived in Edmonton five years ago to pursue a master’s in public health at the University of Alberta (U of A).

Renata said that when she applied to schools in Canada, her goal was to further her education, improve her English and experience a new culture.

“I didn’t come here with any certainties; I just decided to dive into a one-in-a-lifetime experience. After the program, I would have the chance to decide if I would return to Brazil and continue my career or if I would stay and validate my diploma and training here to become a doctor,” added Renata Cesar.

In 2020, she finished her studies. While looking for a job in the public health field and studying for the medical degree validation exams during the pandemic, she discovered something that would completely change her life.

“I found out I was expecting my first child. I decided to put my plans of validating my degree on hold and embrace the full-moment experience. Being a mom changed my priorities, identity, and how I perceived my future. Also, being an immigrant mom with no support comes with some disadvantages, and I had to prioritize my family and mental health. That’s when I decided that doing the validation process would have to wait.”

After a year of enjoying motherhood, Renata began to feel the need to work on her professional goals again. She was on maternity leave and, at the time, was working in clinical research.

Although she was thrilled to work a job that allowed her to be in the clinical setting, she missed feeling the connection with people. Renata said she struggled to find connection through Zoom calls, emails and spreadsheets.

“In my childhood, I was a very curious and creative child. I was always making crafts to sell, coming up with business ideas, selling things everywhere. Then, in the middle of a career crisis, I realized that maybe I could pursue my old dream and open my own business. I wanted to start something that meant something to me. And I saw an opportunity in açaí,, something I love to eat. I couldn’t find anything like our Brazilian açaí in Edmonton. I took courses, mentored, read a lot, tested recipes and started selling açaí at home.”

what is açaí? de Fernanda Rocha

Four months after starting the business and having overcome difficulties mainly related to the logistics of working with an imported frozen product, she rented a space to sell her product to more people.

“Our açaí is imported from Brazil, but we produce our own açaí blend in Calgary. Our product is mostly açaí berry pulp, but we make our recipe using the pulp to achieve consistency, flavour and nutritional benefits.”

Tupi Acai Bowls employee scoops the açaí pulp into a bowl.

Renata says that although her goal is to make açaí known among Canadians so that they can discover the versatility and benefits of this berry, she greatly values ​​the support she has always had from the local Brazilian community. They were her first customers, and when she opened the physical store, she decided it would be fair to give employment priority to her compatriots who helped her so much.

“Our customers come from all ethical groups, and this is what we would like to achieve,” says Renata Cesar.

Jennifer Lucchetti is Brazilian and immigrated to Canada in early 2023. She was one of those who had the opportunity to work at Tupi Acai Bowls.

“When I moved here, I had a hard time finding work even with all my experience, but one day, I saw a hiring advertisement on a group for Brazilians living in Edmonton. I contacted Renata immediately, and the following weekend, I started working with her. It was a great start for me here. I learned so much from Renata; she is passionate and dedicated about her business,” said Jennifer Lucchetti, a former Tupi Acai Bowls employee.

Picture provided by Tupi Açaí Bowls. Jennifer Lucchetti, Renata Cesar and a frequent customer a few weeks ago.

“As the business grew, we needed more people to help us, and she was always open to giving opportunities to our community. I’m so happy I was able to see the business grow and be part of it for a few months; I only left because I later found a full-time job during the week, but even though I don’t work here anymore, I always come back as this is a special place for me,” states Lucchetti.

Renata says that the community has accepted the product well and that customers seem more concerned about consuming healthy foods.

“Our best sellers are the açaí bowls. We make bowls using our bases of açaí and other Brazilian fruits, and the client can choose the toppings they like. We also sell smoothies using exotic and tropical fruits,” added Renata.

Renata says that being a doctor will never stop being part of her and that she can always return to her home country and restart her career where she left off. However, being an entrepreneur excites and challenges her.

“I love seeing my business grow and all the possibilities I have in front of me with Tupi Acai Bowls. I feel fulfilled and feel like I was born to do this. Every achievement, positive feedback, and new opportunity amazes me, and I don’t see myself doing anything different now. My professional goal now is to grow at you as a brand and expand this business.”

Renata Cesar is the owner of Tupi Acai Bowls.

Renata is looking to expand her business. She is planning to open a store in Calgary in early 2024.



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