Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce: Where culture and business meet
By Elaine Sambugaro | June 30, 2001
Combine low membership fees, frequent networking events and an all-inclusive policy, and you've got an ethnically-based business association that's pretty attractive to an entrepreneur – irregardless of nationality or gender.
But it was the power of the ICCC's network that attracted Amint Shanghavi, and his business partners, Mehul Vora, and Mital Vora, to the organization.
The young entrepreneurs are working on an electronic community portal for the South Asian business community, dubbed DynamASIA (www.dynamasia.com). They said that the individuals they've met have helped them secure seed capital to start their business and put them in contact with the people who've helped them market and sell their idea. Forty per cent of the ICCC membership consists of small-to-medium sized businesses.
"It's amazing the influential people we've met here," Shanghavi said. "We've been given a chance to speak to others about our product or service," he said.
The ICCC Board of Directors ensures that the connections Shanghavi speaks about are made in four different ways:
- By providing members with a forum for networking, sharing ideas, information and experience to promote mutual business success;
- By organizing learning opportunities through seminars, workshops and conferences;
- By fostering international commerce between Canada, the Indian sub-continent and other countries around the work by creating relationships and links with global business organizations; and
- By publicly recognizing the achievements of business and community leaders at the Annual Awards and Gala Night.
The ICCC also encourages social gatherings with its members which "double" as networking events.
"We're a platform for like-minded people," said Kris Krishnan, VP and corporate secretary of the ICCC and banker with HSBC. "Good business is all about good connections and you can make those in different cultural situations," he said.
That's something Uma Malik knows first hand. As President of Feminine La Flare Inc., a leading supplier of unique Victorian lingerie and high fashion apparel, Malik says that the connections enabled her to break into overseas markets and do business with Sears Canada.
She says that the organization is still male-oriented and that there exists a subliminal non-inclusive policy towards women, but that her goal is to see a woman as President of the ICCC within the next five years.
Low membership fees at the ICCC makes joining this organization attractive. The cost of a regular membership is only $100 per year and the rate for a lifetime membership is $1140. Corporate sponsorships are $250 a piece and student memberships are $40.
These costs, however, do not include the fees for guest speaker dinner events, for example, which may cost anywhere from $20 to $100 per event, depending on sponsorship subsidies.
"We keep it low on purpose," admitted Anita Sachdev, a former director on the ICCC Board. "Think about it: it's not even the cost of a meal with a drink and dessert â€¦ try going to a nice Italian restaurant and see what it costs you."
Sachdev said that the association is aiming for low turn-a-round and the price of the membership makes renewal more likely.
For more information on the Chamber, and how to become a member, visit their Web site at www.iccc.org or their North-York office.
Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce
5160 Yonge Street, Suite 700
North York, Ontario