The Canada Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) partnered with Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute (DI), critical subject to promote entrepreneurship for new immigrants and youth. The event was moderated by NexGen who also attracted a large number of youth and a substantial representation of future entrepreneurs from Mississauga and Brampton. The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration sponsored the vibrant event.
The innovative seminar combined training, networking, and access to community resources for young professionals and newcomers; it was held at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. Leveraging the past success of CPBC and DI initiatives the valuable statistics capacity for business development in multicultural communities. We were able to achieve the primary objective of inspiring entrepreneurs of the Peel region providing them with tools, network and necessary guidance to start their own businesses. Attendees included and weren’t limited to people from Canada, Pakistan, the Consul General of Sri Lanka, Ulm Jauhar was present to show encouragement and support.
Members of NexGen, Zain Dossal, and Ms. Wania Sulaiman welcomed guests with a brief introduction of CPBC NexGen and its mandate.
Mr. Samir Dossal, in his address, highlighted the tireless efforts of CPBC made in strengthening ties between Canada and Pakistan, he recalled how the trade between the two countries had grown substantially since four years ago when he had just assumed his role in the organization; he stressed that this was not the end and a long way was still ahead of the organization, highlighting the importance of the role that entrepreneurs play in bilateral trade.
MP Iqra Khalid, a lawyer by training, recounted her background and experience, what she was striving for in her efforts locally and nation-wide. Her speech was insightful and impressive, giving credence to hard work and dedication in achieving and exceeding goals and expectations. After her speech she presented a certificate to CPBC.
Dr. Wendy Cukier, founder of Diversity Institute and professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, gave an in-depth presentation wherein she spoke at length about immigrant entrepreneurs, the barriers they face in Canada and the potential that they unlock in driving innovation and growth in the Canadian market. Amongst the challenges faced by immigrant entrepreneurs were issues such as: getting a foreign credential recognized, establishing a business organization, and understanding the market. Dr. Cukier reviewed the services offered in support for entrepreneurs as well as the challenges in relation to them; she would offer solutions to the issues present which would drive efficiency and growth. The presentation was skillfully executed and filled with beneficial material which shed light on a topic often overlooked.
Dr. Cukier then moderated the panel for their insights. Included in the panel was, Akif Siddiqui, a partner at PwC; Naveed Hyder, CPBC Director and Founder of H5 Interiors; Imtiaz Seyid, VP of South Asian and Middle Eastern Markets, RBC; Muhammad Saqib, Business Centre Manager, BDC. The panelists contributed their personal and professional experiences, shedding light and nuancing issues with practical examples. Muhammed Saqib highlighted the business opportunities available in outskirts of Toronto of retiring businessmen willing to sell established businesses.
Imtiaz shared his experience of carving his way to create a niche market. Ms. Naveed Hyder shared her experience of how staying authentic to herself led her to success. Mr. Akif emphasised the importance of creating value by harnessing deeper relationships and remaining authentic with hard work and dedication.
Following this, the Ontario Ministry of Small Business, represented by Kenzie McKeegan and Julian Portelli, spoke about Small Business Access and its goal of bringing together resources specifically curated for small business owners which included a dedicated hotline and 24/7 online access.
The Small Business Access was established with a lot of community feedback and as such reflected a very accurate and immediate reference point for small business concerns; they also shed light on its various initiatives, Employing Young Talent Initiative (EYTI), Graduated Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (GAGE), and Employer Completion Bonus (ECB), as well many other initiatives undertaken to best cater to the small business sector in Ontario. Attendees were highly delighted at this opportunity, and for many it was the first time learning about the efforts of the Ministry.
The highlight of the event was the keynote speaker, Zeeshan Ali, VP of Salesforce, who led the audience on a very humbling recollection of his life from a young age.
Each one of the attendees took something away from his inspiring presentation, He spoke at length about his experience as a budding entrepreneur from a young age and emphasised on the importance of networking for entrepreneurs; his advice was based on practical examples from his personal experiences with practical and immediately implementable points. He created a high that a created a buzz through the subsequent networking session with everyone eager to for a chance for a one on one chat with him.
Nilufer Mama, CPBC Director, concluded with motivating words for all those in attendance, highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship as well as the efforts of the CPBC. The event was extremely well attended and liked with a lot of good questions that came from the audience who were keen to listen and learn from the collective experience of all those presenting
Jane Pilot, VP & Director CPBC commended CPBC and DI for organizing a positive event to inspire the youth. She made the comment for entrepreneurs to look to mentors and owners of companies that were looking to retire soon; referencing BDC who spoke about many companies looking to it in place plans to sell their businesses. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs.
A quote from a participant ” The organization of the event was absolutely impeccable and that the speeches and all the contributions were of an amazingly high standard. I am certain that the attendees would have learned a lot and the whole experience would have provided them with new ideas for the future.”
Canada Pakistan Business Council (CPBC), Diversity Institute (DI) and CPBC NexGen effectively and positively contributed to the needs of immigrant entrepreneurs and all those who may consider entrepreneurship in the future by connecting the vast immigrant community to resources and organizations which would help them achieve and sustain their success; this sentiment was echoed by those in attendance who highly praised the event and the CPBC for taking the time to provide such a valuable resource to Canada’s diverse communities.