December 2019 - January 2020 Best Cities for Work in B.C.

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1184822

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Page 67 of 71

Refugees and Immigrants are at the heart of the future prosperity of Cana- da. Why? Embedded throughout the Canadian economy is a particular type of business—the family enterprise. And many of those family businesses were started by refugees and immigrants. Having lived in and worked with family businesses throughout Canada for decades, I know this first hand. The community I grew up in was made up of post-World War II refugees (or more specifically "displaced persons"), with their own social, educational, linguistic and religious institutions. That com- munity, like others of its sort, spawned countless family businesses. Most immigrants don't have to be trained to acquire entrepreneurial traits; they are essential to their being. They are independent, action-oriented, have a never-say-die attitude and are opportunity obsessed. Immigrants are outsiders, new to the established way of doing things and not used to conforming. What do refugees and immigrants generally bring to their new land? A sense of gratitude, an insatiable craving to improve their circumstances, a de- sire to be self-reliant and the tenacity to give their family better opportunities. They are used to a modest life- style—that makes the tough times of a start up more palatable. Their opportu- nity cost is low. They left the "old coun- try," either deliberately or in a hurry, for a better life. Often the family of the immigrant is coopted into the business. There is no choice. There is work to be done and the kids need to chip in, on evenings and weekends. Weekends for leisure is a foreign concept. A sense of entitle- ment was anathema. From my own experience working with family businesses I can attest to the fact that many of today's successful family businesses and entrepreneurs began as proverbial penniless immi- grants. Often the immigrants started their own business out of necessity due to lack of education, connections, work experience and language skills. They are prepared to go and do what the locals won't. How many condos in Vancouver wouldn't exist if not for immigrant en- trepreneurs? European trades people begat house builders which begat property developers. Future property tycoons were riding the bus with the tools of their trade to their next job. The Asian community is legendary for its entrepreneurial zeal. From my days living in Hong Kong, I experienced the so-called "Overseas Chinese net- work" which provides a resource base to fuel the family enterprise from Hong Kong to Vancouver. The Mennonite immigrant communi- ty has spawned many successful family businesses across the country. In the Fraser Valley that led to various agricul- tural related industries and throughout BC to various property development initiatives. In Manitoba the opportuni- ties were in manufacturing. I have many clients of Dutch origin, particularly in the Fraser Valley and in southern Ontario. The story is retold countless times: the parents emigrated in the 1950s and started their own business (dairy / agriculture, horticul- ture, etc.) and then family members took over the business. Without Dutch immigrants there would be far fewer well-run horticultural and agricultural operations. Immigrants often have an extended time horizon—longevity is counted in decades. I work with families that have been toiling in a single direction for 20, 50 and even over 100 years. They are not easily distracted. They don't need to display the baubles of success. They become the classic low-key "mil- lionaire next door." It all starts with the root of refugees and immigrants. Canada needs to con- tinue to offer a safe, stable, prosper- ous and meaningful future. The very future prosperity of Canada depends upon this ongoing attraction of talented people without opportunity. So the next time you see a refugee or immigrant, imagine many of them to be future family business owners—and say hi to the person who will be help- ing to fund your CPP and who will be employing your kids. WHERE WOULD THE FAMILY ENTERPRISE BE WITHOUT REFUGEES & IMMIGRANTS? Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, BA(Hons), LLB, LLM, PhD, Business Development, Nicola Wealth Rick works with one of Canada's largest networks of high net worth entrepre- neurs and family / business owners. This network has been built over decades of client work, collaboration, research, lecturing and volunteering. He has written six books, translated in multiple languages, and speaks widely on the family enterprise. He teaches leadership annually in an executive education program for global business leaders at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford (www.ELOOxford.com). CONTACT INFORMATION: E: rgoossen@nicolawealth.com LinkedIn.com/in/rickgoossen A DV E RT I S E M E N T

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