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Iman Tajadod

2018 Youth Honouree

Iman remembers receiving a form from his grade 8 teacher, to go to the Town of Richmond Hill Youth Action Committee (YAC)'s Future Leaders in YACtion Conference. He attended and heard from speakers who had started their own business at fifteen, and others who upon entering high school had volunteered with the National Red Cross. It had never crossed his mind that these opportunities existed outside of school.

Iman joined YAC and, eventually as co-chair, ran the same conference for five years to audiences of about 100 middle- and high-schoolers. His most memorable moments are the faces he’d see at the end of each June conference. Kids who attended simply to get a day with friends or a free t-shirt, now left feeling empowered and confident.

As business students learn about Return on Investment (ROI), Iman wants to ensure his influence generates an exponentially growing ROI. His community encouraged him to become a leader and he aims to do the same for every new person he interacts with. Iman’s desire is to return more to the community than what he was privileged to receive.

Iman feels positive social and environmental impacts are key today. They provide a greater sense of fulfillment by realizing the work done actually makes a difference and generates something to be revered.

An unexpected reward for Iman is the interaction and knowledge gained from some of the most passionate and inspiring people he has come to know, relationships he hopes to foster for a lifetime.

To encourage future participation, Iman believes a two-sided approach is needed. First, make it meaningful. Young Ontarians entering high school need to volunteer at least forty hours throughout their four years. Implementing extra steps such as requesting annual reflections on their volunteering, would encourage students to give back in beneficial ways. Second, when organizations make it apparent how they benefit from, and need youth presence, people understand their help is valued and are more inclined to participate.

In March of 2017, along with high school friends, Iman started Seconds, a food waste reduction project which allowed restaurants to sell food at a reduction, which was otherwise discarded at day’s end. Although he finds the idea viable, it was placed on hold when his friends went on to pursue their university studies.

In the coming decades, Iman anticipates the majority of new businesses will be service, tech-based, or geared toward social impact. Whether through his company or by helping out new and upcoming ideas, with the business skills he’s learned, Iman wants to make a tangible impact on the world.

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