Dollars and sense
VASDEV CHANCHLANI has a heart as wide as all outdoors, and
a check book to match when the cause is right
Vasdev Chanchlani, right, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Orthopedicsurgeon Dr Vir Sennik once approached
businessman Vasdev Chanchlani for a donation
towards the fracture unit at the Trillium Health
Center. Chanchlani promptly wrote out a check
Ajit Someswar, one of the founders of the advocacy group Canada-India Foundation, needed
funding for an endowment that would give an
annual award recognizing the exemplary
achievements of leaders who have done the
Diaspora proud. Chanchlani agreed to create a
million dollar endowment, and handed over a
check for $100,000 for the first year.
Thanks to his commitment, the CIF at its inaugural gala dinner in 2008 saw the participation
of, among others, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper and former President of India
APJ Abdul Kalam, at what came to be known as
the ‘Night of the Stars’.
Chanchlani says he wants to make it a $10-mil-
lion endowment and award a million dollar each
year instead of $50,000 currently which, he says,
is too little to “attract credible people, people of
international repute.” He hopes to rope in
friends, outside institutions and even the federal
government to reach that target.
“In any case, I am personally committed to
achieve the $10 million target. I realize the
endowment fits with my philanthropic goal to
nurture and celebrate the quest of excellence and
global leadership,” says the man who, when the
cause is right, is quickest off the mark with his
checkbook – as happened for instance when he
created a $900,000 endowment to save a
Toronto area Hindu temple from bankruptcy.
What is remarkable about Chanchlani is not his personal philanthropy, but the influence he exerts in the field – an influence
that means that where he leads, others are prepared to follow.
His donation to AIM for Seva to start a hostel for tribal people
in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh, in the name of his mother
induced 18 other people to pledge to donate a hostel each, at
costs that range from $37,500 back when Chanchlani started
things off, to $60,000 now.
Chanchlani is co-founder of the software company Sigma
Systems, with over 400 employees at one location in Toronto
alone. He is also the co-founder of six other technology ventures “having acquired venture funding from the best of the
best venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkings, and strategic
investments from the likes of Cisco and then successfully exiting from all of them,” he says.
Chanchlani buys up companies in danger of going under,
turns them round, and when they are back on sound footing,
sells them away, moving on to the next project. It is all about
‘Team, Timing and Talent’, says the man who characterizes
himself as a ‘network entrepreneur’.