BCB MayJune 2022_LR

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/1468031

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Page 17 of 83

18 BCBUSINESS MAY/JUNE 2022 LEFT: JENA FAIR W I N N E R NEELAM SAHOTA C E O , D I V E R S E C I T Y C O M M U N I T Y R E S O U R C E S S O C I E T Y "W e are in un- precedented territory to be bringing half a million new people every single year into Canada in the next few years," says Neelam Sahota, CEO of DIVERSEcity Community Re- sources Society. Many of those people, who include refugees from conflict in Ukraine and Afghanistan, will end up in B.C. and need help finding their way. That's where DIVERSEcity comes in. The registered char- ity, founded in 1972, specializes in settlement and integration for newcomers of all ages. Its free services range from ESL classes and employment coun- selling and support to violence prevention programs. Origi- nally focused on its home base of Surrey and the Fraser Valley, it now serves other parts of the province. NONPROFIT LEADER R U N N E R - U P KRISTI RIVAIT C O - F O U N D E R , S C A L E C O L L A B O R A T I V E WHEN KRISTI RIVAIT was a high-school student in her hometown of Trail in the mid-1980s, her father and other employees of the Cominco smelter went on strike. Rather than keep negotiating, the company started selling power to the U.S. That decision to choose profit over the community had a profound effect on Rivait. "A seed was planted inside me that there's a different way to run our economy," she recalls. Rivait went on to become director of fund development for Vision Vancouver during its first successful mayoral cam- paign in 2008. Moving to Victoria, she served as executive director of the Oaklands Community Centre before launch- ing Scale Collaborative in 2014 with Kristi Fairholm Mader. The Victoria-based outfit, which has 12 full-time staff, helps nonprofits and social enterprises make more impact for the greater good by adopting businesslike strategies. As lead for the seCatalyst partnership, Rivait brought together about 30 organizations and community leaders annually from 2014 to 2019 for networking and professional development events to build a stronger social enterprise sector on Vancouver Island. seCatalyst evolved into Connect Money Impact, a one-day gathering for impact entrepreneurs and investors whose next edition takes place on June 29. Scale's flagship program, Thriving Non Profits, has helped some 100 participants diversify their funding. "They come out of that program with a much larger sense of what is possible," Rivait says of the five-month offering, which she's taking nationwide after it expanded throughout B.C. and Alberta. Last year, Scale launched the B.C.-focused Thrive Impact Fund, for which board president Rivait raised $2 million in initial investment. "It's one of the few impact funds across our country that invests in nonprofits, charities and social enterprises." –N.R. Besides funded contracts with the provincial and federal governments, DIVERSEcity has sponsorships and partner- ships with the private sector. But it also runs its own social enterprises for profit, explains Sahota, who became CEO in 2013. "This might be a regis- tered charity by status, but we absolutely cannot operate from a charitable model mindset." To that end, Sahota has found a way to marry the non- profit and business worlds. The child of Indian immigrants, she grew up in Burnaby, earn- ing a business administration degree at SFU. The certified professional accountant began her career with Crown agency BC Housing, dabbling in the corporate sector before joining DIVERSEcity in 2008. Sahota developed the model for DIVERSEcity Interpretation and Translation Services, which officially launched in 2013 and now generates some $1.4 million in annual revenue from govern- ment and corporate clients. The largest business of its kind in B.C., the shop employs about 300 immigrants who deal in more than 88 languages. That venture helped fund the purchase of land for the DIVERSEcity Community Cam- pus, which opened its doors in 2015. At last count, the 40,000-square-foot hub serves 16,000 newcomers annually. But because DIVERSEcity has also expanded virtually and into places like schools and rec- reation centres, that number is much bigger, Sahota notes. She calls DIVERSEcity's 300- plus volunteers the "lifeblood" of her organization, which has about 210 employees. Sahota, who favours shared leadership, asks people for advice rather than telling them what to do. "We're working on huge social issues that we need to tackle, so no one has the answer here," she says. "But each of you coming in with different strengths and lived experiences, that is what is going to get us over the finish line." –N.R. WOMEN YEAR OF THE 2 0 2 2

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