Kelowna’s Raghwa Gopal has been named one of the country’s top immigrants by Canadian Immigrant Magazine.
Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan and a well-known local entrepreneur, investor, business mentor, philanthropist and community builder, was selected as one of the country’s top 25 immigrants for 2017.
The Fiji-born Gopal, a former Kelowna Man of the Year award recipient, came to Canada in 1979 and settled in the Okanagan.
“Kelowna in 1979 was a very conservative society,” he told the magazine. “There were hardly any people of colour. When I applied for jobs, they looked at me differently.”
One day, Gopal walked past a sign on a door saying “computer management.” Gopal, who had a computer engineering degree, went in, met the owner and asked if the company was hiring. It wasn’t. But Gopal offered to prove his worth by working for free for a month. Within two days he had a job, and shortly thereafter became his new boss’ business partner.
After that he became what he calls a serial entrepreneur, starting, growing, then selling businesses, including the one he had become a partner in.
And he says he feels well suited to the enterprise.
“I have a large vision and I have the flexibility to take risks,” said Gopal.
One of the most important issues for him is education. And it is in that area that he loves to give back, especially when it comes to working with business student at Okanagan College.
Raghwa Gopal knows the value of education.
Back in Fiji, when he was just 11 years old, his parents had to pull him out of school because they couldn’t afford the tuition. He ended up convincing the owner of a local grocery store to hire him.
Gopal quickly proved himself, suggesting more cost-effective ways of running the business. His boss was so impressed, he financed young Gopal’s education.
Now Gopal is dedicated to paying forward the opportunity he was given.
In addition to working with up-and-coming tech firms through Accelerate Okanagan, he has also served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Okanagan College, has given guest lectures and loves to inspire local students.
“It’s satisfying that someone (else) has succeeded because of the time and effort I put in,” he said.
The Canadian Immigrant Magazine Awards, sponsored by RBC, recognize the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of those who chose to come to to Canada. This year marked the ninth year for the annual awards.