A Unique Social Enterprise, Valu Ventures Launched in Toronto
Toronto (CA) – A business with a good heart, Valu Ventures has recently been launched in Toronto. Valu Ventures is a social enterprise that provides startup support to Canadian immigrants who want to venture into entrepreneurship with or without past business experience.
The company operates a unique business model. Most services are provided free of cost. There are various tiers of service suites that clients can qualify for. At the highest tier, they get everything from office space and supplies to expert advice on how to setup the business and find customers, in return for a nominal share in the company’s equity. Valu Ventures also connects immigrant entrepreneurs with investors and mentors. There’s a catch though; a good one! The client’s business idea should have a social objective at its core. Value Venture wouldn’t help you start a new burger joint across the road from McDonalds if it is going to be yet another junk food den, eating into the society’s bottom line and adding to its waistline.
The idea is simple, says Gerard Keledjian, the co-founder of Valu Ventures and recipient of 2015 Pioneers for Change Award . “It is a group of professionals and entrepreneurs who have helped many immigrants in Canada find work over the years. Now they help them startup their own businesses so that they can help other job seekers get work—by employing them.”
The idea sprang as an extension of the volunteer work that co-founders, Majid Kazmi and Gerard Keledjian had been doing since a couple of years. As immigrants, they were both actively working with newcomer families to help them settle in Canada quickly and become contributing members to the economy and the society in general. “In many ways, I was able to leverage my experience working with both immigrants as well as immigrant-serving organizations during the past three to four years,” says Keledjian.
As an experienced media professional who migrated to Canada from Dubai, Keledjian faced challenges initially finding a foothold in Canada within his field. “I was told that media is one of the most difficult areas to break into for immigrants, adds Keledjian.” His solution was an innovative one. He gathered other immigrant media professionals in the Greater Toronto Area and started a network called New Canadian Media Professionals Network (NCMP) as a way to collaborate and help each other in their professional journey in media. Now he is the owner of his own media production company, New Horizons Media that specializes in producing video content related to new Canadians.
“This collaborative spirit is something we’d like to guide us at Valu Ventures,” Keledjian emphasizes. “As the first step, we will build partnerships with other organizations across sectors to build synergies.” Valu Ventures promotes the establishment of a cluster-based entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada that will have multiple stakeholders come together in a collaborative partnership, all single mindedly focused on encouraging entrepreneurship. Each cluster will have one or more organizations from each of the key sectors, such as education, corporations, non-profit organizations, investors, financial institutions and government.
In addition, Valu Ventures will partner with business incubators and accelerators for capacity sharing as well as for launching joint programs to discover and nurture entrepreneurial talent among social innovators in Canada. As an immediate goal, the company plans to work toward establishing the first Valu Ventures Centre in Toronto.