Eva Luk has helped bring close to 100 mom-and-pop businesses to life in Manitoba, thanks to her work with Chinese immigrants.
And after years of practising law in Winnipeg specializing in immigration, Luk now concentrates all her professional energies on her business consultancy, Risun Connexions, attempting to match up capital from China with investment opportunities here.
"I still work more than 12 hours a day," she said. "I always have."
Luk arrived in Manitoba in 1989, after graduating with her law degree from Middlesex University in London and then articling in Wales.
She and her physician-husband, Dr. Tse-Li Luk, were lured to Manitoba by an ad in a British medical journal about "beautiful Lake of the Woods" and Manitoba's need for doctors.
"When we got here, my husband was offered jobs in Birtle, Lynn Lake and Vita," she said. "We chose Vita because it was closest to Winnipeg."
Even though she had just finished articling in Wales, she was not able to start practising in Manitoba right away.
"To my chagrin I found out I had to redo some of my course," she said. "The regulations around foreign credentials are murderous, honestly."
Luk, 52, worked at a couple of Winnipeg law firms early in the 1990s until forming her own firm in 1996.
She recently stopped practising law and now focuses all her attention on deal-making work at Risun while relying on her law partner, John Petryshyn, to handle legal clients.
On top of her busy professional schedule, she is a longtime board member of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre, was recently added to the board of Travel Manitoba and is newly appointed chairwoman of the Winnipeg Chinatown Non-profit Housing Corp., which runs two housing developments for seniors in Winnipeg's Chinatown.
She is another one of those immigrants to the province who become passionate ambassadors of Manitoba.
"There are huge investment opportunities in Manitoba," she said. "We have the technology, the human resources, the R & D, but we don't have the capital and the market. But China has both of those, which is why Manitoba and China are good fits."
But such foreign-investment deals are never easy and are very time-consuming. She goes back and forth to China at least a couple of times per year.
She has been working for several years with investors in China and various Manitoba fishing co-operatives to set up a fish processing plant in Manitoba that might be able to ship low-value "rough fish" to China.
If she has any complaints about the Manitoba market when it comes to trying to organize deals with foreign investors, it's Manitobans can tend to be insular.
But she is working at changing that. She recently returned from a trip to China accompanied by a couple of Winnipeg business people, including architect Steve Cohlmeyer.
"I've known Eva for a long time and we've talked about a number of things," Cohlmeyer said. "There are opportunities for us (to partner with the Chinese) both here and in China. Eva and I are working on projects that have mutual self-interest for the both of us."
Most recently, Luk has been keying on opportunities in the mining sector.