‘En­trepreneur­ship is in my blood’

National Post (Latest Edition) - - MADE IN CANADA - BY KATHRYN BOOTHBY

Anurag Ag­gar­wal may have come to Canada by chance, but he brought his en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit with him.

Mr. Ag­gar­wal, 34, was born and raised in Bi­laspur, Hi­machal Pradesh in north­ern In­dia. He stud­ied at the Baba Farid univer­sity of Health Science in Pun­jab and grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor of science de­gree in ho­moeopa­thy.

Like his fa­ther be­fore him, Mr. Ag­gar­wal promptly opened a busi­ness in his home­town. “en­trepreneur­ship is in my blood. No one in my fam­ily has ever worked for any­one else, so start­ing my own busi­ness came nat­u­rally,” he says.

Af­ter spend­ing three years build­ing his health and well­ness clinic in In­dia, Canada came call­ing in the per­son of his fu­ture wife. “I had no plans to move any­where,” Mr. Ag­gar­wal says, “but my girl­friend, who I had met at univer­sity, per­suaded me that Canada was the place to be. We moved to Bri­tish Co­lum­bia in Septem­ber 2009 and got mar­ried.”

They planned to open a health and well­ness clinic in their new home­town of Surrey, B.C. But it took a year for his cre­den­tials to be val­i­dated. dur­ing that time he stud­ied Canada’s busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and worked for a se­cu­rity com­pany where he learned about cus­tomer ser­vice and the Cana­dian cul­ture.

“I gained a lot by work­ing on the front line with peo­ple and rec­om­mend that ev­ery­one who comes here from a dif­fer­ent coun­try take the time to un­der­stand the cul­ture and the way that busi­ness is con­ducted,” he says.

He also con­nected with Pro­gres­sive In­ter­cul­tural Com­mu­nity Ser­vices (PICS) a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides a range of ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and so­cial pro­grams to im­mi­grants, se­niors and oth­ers. Through PICS, he learned about the Cana­dian youth Busi­ness Foun­da­tion (CyBF) who pro­vide busi­ness as­sis­tance and fund­ing to en­trepreneurs un­der the age of 40, in­clud­ing new­com­ers.

“It takes time and money to start a new busi­ness in Canada, but there is a lot of help to get you go­ing,” says Mr. Ag­gar­wal. “PICS pro­vided con­nec­tions and fund­ing for ad­vanced cour­ses and CyBF pro­vided a busi­ness men­tor and startup fi­nanc­ing.”

His per­sis­tence and pas­sion for his cho­sen pro­fes­sion paid off. To­day, Ag­gar­wal Health and Well­ness Cen­tre in Surrey, B.C. is thriv­ing. Since open­ing its doors in early 2011, the clinic has dou­bled in square footage and is triple the size of his orig­i­nal busi­ness in In­dia. He has a busi­ness part­ner, Swami Ag­gar­wal (no re­la­tion) who is also his per­sonal men­tor, and one em­ployee. Ser­vices have ex­panded from home­o­pathic con­sul­ta­tion and medicines to in­clude yoga ses­sions, per­son­al­ized diet and nu­tri­tion pro­grams, and a re­tail store sell­ing or­ganic min­eral sup­ple­ments.

Canada is a good place to do busi­ness, he says. “Cana­di­ans are very con­scious of their health and it is a wealthy na­tion. Peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate and can af­ford the ser­vices that we of­fer.”

It is also an hon­est, open and or­ga­nized place to do busi­ness, he says, and he gives the bank­ing sys­tem high marks. “I love the bank­ing here. It is very easy and you can even bank over your cell­phone. It is well or­ga­nized, takes less time, and re­sponse and cus­tomer ser­vice are very good.”

It’s not just the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in Canada that he en­joys. The weather and moun­tains on the West Coast re­mind him of his for­mer home, emer­gency ser­vices are avail­able when needed, and Cana­di­ans are a wel­com­ing peo­ple, he says. “I like ev­ery­thing about Canada.”

Suf­fice to say, cit­i­zen­ship is on the near hori­zon. Mr. Ag­gar­wal ex­pects to gain his Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship in 2014. His wife will gain hers in July of this year. “I am look­ing for­ward to build­ing the busi­ness over the com­ing years and con­tin­u­ing to give back to the coun­try that has adopted me,” he says.

The Ag­gar­wals not only started a new life and a new busi­ness in Canada, they started a fam­ily. Their daugh­ter was born here in July, 2010 — on Canada day.

BEN NELMS / POST­MEDIA

Busi­ness owner Anurag Ag­gar­wal calls Canada “a good place to do busi­ness.”

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