New directory looks to boost alumni-owned businesses

Special to Western News

Sponsored by university’s Alumni Relations office, the new Alumni Business Directory is giving a boost to the many purple-and-proud independent business owners, especially during these uncertain times.

Western is helping Vino Jeyapalan’s business go to the dogs – and he couldn’t be happier.

As CEO and co-founder of Kabo Fresh Dog Food, the former student rapidly scaled the company to become the largest fresh dog food delivery brand in Canada. The firm is one of dozens of alumni businesses listed in the new Alumni Business Directory.

Sponsored by university’s Alumni Relations office, the directory is giving a boost to many purple-and-proud independent business owners like Jeyapalan, especially during these uncertain times.

“This connection brings us to our roots,” said Jeyapalan, who started the company with Zachary Bernardi, BMOS’13, his former Saugeen-Maitland Hall roommate. “As the company grows, so does our relationship with Western.”

While Alumni Relations had been exploring the notion of a web-based business directory for some time, the process was accelerated as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and its impact on businesses, particularly small businesses, became clear.

“Our goal is to shine a light on alumni-owned businesses and leverage the power of the Western community to generate support, not only during this difficult period, but on an ongoing basis,” said Tyler Forkes, Alumni Relations Executive Director.

Currently, the directory lists 70 alumni-owned businesses, with more being added each day. The Alumni Relations team is also working in collaboration with Western Entrepreneurship to identify and reach out to alumni-owned businesses created through its programs.

Alumni wishing to be added to the directory can fill out an online application form. There is no charge.

“Our hope is that the Western family will make a special effort to support these alumni-owned businesses,” Forkes said. “It’s simply one more way that Western is committed to providing support to our graduates.”