Project Beyshick Business Plan Contest Award ceremony at Ontario Legislature, Queens Park (2007)
Honorable Minister Takhar, Honorable Counsel General of India Mr. Satish Mehta, Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Harvey Yesno, CEO of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Development Fund, Ajit Khanna, President of ICCC and Distinguished guests.
I welcome you all to this great occasion to give Project Beyshick Business Plan contest award to a very bright individual who participated in our job shadow program last August and was job shadowing Mr. Geoff Hoy, Senior VP of HSBC Bank Canada.
I want to share three things with you all. First is about my assertion as to why entrepreneurship should be the central theme for the development of any under-privileged community. After 2nd world war and till the time that the Industrial Economy was at its peak, the greatest differentiator and playing field leveler was education. During this period, bureaucrats and professionals held the power base, and were the majority of prosperous people in any developed society. In Knowledge Economy, power base has shifted and beaurecracy and professionals are still well-to-do but not the majority prosperous lot. Key to prosperity today is Entrepreneurship. Education is a necessary condition for prosperity in today’s world but not the sufficient criteria any more. Today, prosperity game has become very democratic and I foresee that over the decade it will become pervasive in our society. Hence, with this understanding of mine and for the fact that no community gets the proper recognition and respect in mainstream society till they have made their riches in the mainstream business community that I have focused primarily on nurturing entrepreneurship amongst First Nation people of Canada. Entrepreneurship and success in the mainstream business community is the entry point to the mainstream club and hence Project Beyshick for nurturing entrepreneurship amongst the First Nation people.
Secondly, I would like to highlight that the federal and provincial governments in Canadahave been spending close to $9 billion for 1 million population of First Nation. We have huge bureaucracy being supported with this money and tons of consultants charging large fees working on making plan to solve the problem of the community. This amount is even larger than the annual budget of few countries having 20 times the population than that of First Nations in Canada. However, the outcome of all this spending and engagement of consultants has been almost negligible. This file has been with the government for over a century and it is not working. Private initiative, philanthropic dollars, First Nation Leadership, and government resources have to work collaboratively for this to work.
Hence, our very small initiative Project Beyshick. Hence my setting up of a $100,000 endowment at the Trent University for Aboriginal studies; and hence my resolve to set up a $500,000 endowment from my foundation fund at the Ryerson University, Business School to set up a Incubation centre for entrepreneurship for First Nation. Ken Jones, Dean of Ryerson Business School and I are working out the details. We have an ambitious goal of raising $5 million endowment for the purpose besides my endowment of $500,000 for the purpose.
I don’t have any doubt in my mind that our efforts are too small to change the entire situation of our brothers and sisters of First Nation in Canada. Having said that, what we are doing and have started to work on is definitely testimony of our strong resolve and is a significant beginning. I strongly believe that things will only change for the better when the leadership of First Nation takes the lead and uses us as resource and eventually we go in the background supporting this cause of development of First Nation.
We are committed to help the cause and at the best can be the beacon to help the First Nation ship steer clear of trouble or help with their course. In the end, it is their journey- they are the captain of the ship of prosperity and it is their ship and they have to steer it to their destiny. I would urge leaders like Harvey Yesno, Stan Beardy and Alvin Fiddler to join this focus of ours at Ryerson and Trent University like they have been a great partner of Project Beyshick. It is highly achievable and is not any pie-in-the-sky. Despite all the history and trouble of the past for the First Nation, Canada as I see is one of the greatest and most civilized countries in the world. You see here scores of Indo-Canadians who have been in Canada anywhere between 5 to 25 years and they are all very successful entrepreneurs, political leaders, stewards of Canadian businesses. They all made it here and they have made it. I have no doubt that you (First Nation) will make it. You have the utmost good will of the corporate Canada that I can vouch for. I have met them- met at least 100s of them for Project Beyshick. They are present here in large numbers to celebrate this occasion and that is why we all together can succeed in this journey- The promise land is for you to grab and finally I will end with a Sanskrit Shloka- Uttishtha Jagrat prapya Varanna vodhith (Wake up and get-up and get what is the best).