Shafin Diamond Tejani is an entrepreneur who founded his first internet start-up from his university dorm room at the age of 19. Since then, he has launched over forty start-ups in twenty-one countries, generating more than $100 million in revenues. His most recent success is Victory Square Labs, which provides funding, mentorship and sources to startups in the web, mobile, gaming, and film spaces. Since its inception, Shafin and his team at Victory Square Labs have helped raise over $75 million for school programs and community organizations, and awarded over $250,000 in scholarships.
Shafin is a member of Social Venture Partners Vancouver, a network of philanthropists who donate time, expertise, and funding to non-profits. In December 2014, Shafin was awarded the 2014 BC Angel Investor of the Year award by Angel Forum for his inspiring contributions. In 2015, Shafin was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award for Business Leader in the region of British Columbia and the North. He kindly dedicated his award to KidSafe.
Now in 2017, Shafin has generously pledged the largest matching gift in KidSafe’s history. From March 15 – April 28, Shafin will generously match all donations made to KidSafe, up to $50,000.
We asked Shafin to share why he supports KidSafe:
Question: What inspires you to give to charities and community organizations?
When my family was forced to leave our home in Uganda after a military coup that took place in East Africa in the late 1970’s, they sought refuge 12,600 km away and immigrated to Canada. Our family was very fortunate when the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau granted refugee status to my community. Canada opened its doors and gave us the opportunity to grow up with a stable government, in a safe home, with access to a good education and universal healthcare, and all these great things helped us not only survive but thrive.
So, I feel a moral duty and obligation to give back to the community through all my endeavours. In B.C., our mission is focused on strengthening the organizational capacity of non-profits serving children in need and youth at risk. Our vision is to ensure more children and youth reach their full potential.
As a member of the Ismaili community, giving time and helping others is integral to our way of life, and from a young age I’ve been surrounded by examples of giving back. I believe that to be one of my greatest social inheritances.
Q: What compels you to help combat child poverty?
Growing up, one of the main things that my parents stressed to us was the importance of education. I grew up on the principle that education was the best tool to break the cycle of poverty. With that, I realized that children don’t get to choose the environment they are born into, so if you’re able to provide them with just the basics (ie. security, nutrition, education), you’re giving them a chance to overcome the possible negative effects of that environment. I strongly believe that education is one of the most important investments a country can make for its people and its future.
Q: You have been a KidSafe donor for many years. What compels you to continue your support?
Today, with 1 in 5 Vancouver children living in poverty, the need for KidSafe remains as strong as ever. School is the centre of the universe for many children. It’s where they learn, play, eat, make friends, discover role models, develop life-long social skills, and find help if a crisis arises. The unjust and common reality for tens of thousands of local children is that school breaks are times of instability, hunger and loneliness. By supporting KidSafe, we can help provide these vulnerable children who are in great need with the safety, health, nutritious meals, friendship and happiness they need and deserve.
Q: Do you have a favourite KidSafe experience?
I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Danielle, James, Gerhard and the rest of the KidSafe team for the past couple of years. They’ve done and continue to do such an amazing job in the communities that KidSafe is in.
If I had to choose one favourite experience, it was when we brought all the kids from the KidSafe Winter Break Program to the Vancouver Christmas Market. The kids, the KidSafe staff, and our team all had a blast! It felt good seeing the kids laughing, smiling and having a great time.
Join Shafin Diamond Tejani and help KidSafe serve 390 children this year during school break. Donate from now until April 28, and your donation will be matched, up to $50,000!