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Surrey futurpreneur the youngest Canadian at G20 YEA event

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‘Futurpreneur’ Anjali Dhaliwal developed Youth Helping Youth at 16, a platform for discovering opportunities to further personal and professional development

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If, when you hear the word entrepreneur, your mind immediately jumps to visions of billionaires in space, you haven’t met Anjali Dhaliwal.

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She’s 19, a youth activist, ‘futurpreneur’ in her second year studying at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, and recently participated virtually in an international conference held to find ways to make the world a more inclusive place where opportunities are more equitably distributed.

“I think I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” Dhaliwal said. “I always liked finding problems and solving them.

“I feel it’s very easy to complain about issues, and there are so many out there, but for me it was always, ‘Alright, how do we fix it.’”

At 16, Dhaliwal founded Youth Helping Youth, a non-profit platform for discovering opportunities to further personal and professional development. Creating such a startup is one of the prerequisites for participating in the G20 Youth Entrepreneur Alliance event, which was based in Milan this year. She was the youngest of Canada’s 45 delegates.

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“A lot of the others (participating) not only have finished their university degrees, they’ve gone on to do master’s and doctorates, they’ve had like six jobs over their lifetime and careers,” Dhaliwal said.

“For me to be in a very different position, where I’m starting off my career, it was an incredible opportunity to connect with people across the world who are working on crazy solutions to change the world for the better.”

SFU student Anjali Dhaliwal, pictured outside her home in Surrey, is well on the way to her goal of becoming a social entrepreneur who changes the world for the better.
SFU student Anjali Dhaliwal, pictured outside her home in Surrey, is well on the way to her goal of becoming a social entrepreneur who changes the world for the better. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The issues the solutions are meant to address vary from country to country, region to region, Dhaliwal said.

“In Canada we’re very fortunate that the solutions we have here are, how do we do better? How do we work more toward equal advantage, how do we work to get better technology within our ecosystem?” she said. “Whereas in Africa they’re struggling to get electricity to just attend the event.

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“It really puts in perspective how privileged we are as a country, just how much there is we take for granted.”

She was speaking on Monday a few hours before she would join the rest of her family for Thanksgiving dinner, which means perhaps more in the Dhaliwal household than it does in many.

The teen’s parents, both orphans, had no formal schooling and are first-generation immigrants. Her dad is a carpenter, her mom works in service industries and they’ve gone from living in a small suite to a three-storey home in Surrey where her dad keeps the front and back gardens immaculately manicured.

“My parents didn’t have the family I grew up in and I’m very lucky to have this incredible family that’s full of love,” Dhaliwal said. “I was the first to go to school, I didn’t even know what a Bachelor’s degree was for the longest time, there was a lot of Googling to figure that out.

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“Even though I didn’t come from a privileged background, I’ve watched my parents work hard from day one … taking extra shifts but making time for family. And I’ve seen them grow from living in a small basement to now living in this house, seen them work incredibly hard to get to where they are today and that inspires me to work hard.”

On a full-ride scholarship at SFU, she’s leaning toward majoring in finance, even though numbers, she said, are not her strength.

What is planned further down the road?

“Whew!” she said. “I have lots of plans for down the road.

“Definitely a social entrepreneur. I want to do things that change the world for the better, I don’t want to be like a billionaire who (exploits) the poor, that is not my plan.”

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