The Times They Are a-Changin’, as the song by Bob Dylan goes. It was true in 1964, and it’s true today. We’re living in a time of great change, led by everything from technology to demographics to the environment. Change surrounds us, and it makes many of us question what is next for us, our families, our communities and our livelihoods. TD Bank Group has identified this uncertainty as an issue to address head on. While community relations and giving are nothing new in the corporate world, TD’s new approach certainly is.
Earlier this year, TD took a bold step and developed the Ready Commitment – their new initiative aimed at the change and uncertainty facing not only their customers, but the communities they serve. TD Bank Group will target $1 billion in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas – Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. The first step in the Ready Commitment is the Ready Challenge, an annual initiative that offers up to ten $1 million grants to organizations that have scalable ideas to address the issues identified for the Ready Commitment. The 2018 Challenge is aimed at addressing the issue of financial security as income volatility becomes a concern for more people, with an eye on programs that prepare people for the changing workforce by investing in training, small business and entrepreneurship.
Industry West caught up with Robert Ghazal, Senior Vice President, Prairie Region, to discuss the Ready Challenge and what it means for TD. “The Ready Challenge gives TD access to new thoughts and approaches on the issues being addressed by the Ready Commitment,” says Ghazal. “The definitions are broad, like ‘financial security’ for example, but that allows us the flexibility to find solutions at the micro level.” Ghazal sees the Ready Challenge initiative as a way to reach non-profit organizations and charities that have firm approaches on addressing financial security issues, but need the resources to extend their reach. “We know there are organizations with great ideas to solve these problems,” says Ghazal. “Solutions to support entrepreneurship, job training or small business exist at the grassroots level. The Ready Challenge lets us find them, support them, scale them up and in turn, make a difference in the lives of people in the communities we work.”
Outside of the Ready Commitment, TD supports entrepreneurship through its core business, and embracing the growing diversity around it. Entrepreneurship is changing as more women, youth, new Canadians and Indigenous people forge their own path into business and TD sees it. “TD has recognized that entrepreneurship is a goal for so many different people, with new insights and visions,” says Ghazal. “We recognize the robust, deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Western Canada, and the challenges entrepreneurs face along the way. We’re there to assist through not only initiatives like the Ready Challenge, but also in our everyday business.”
Thinking about your own entrepreneurial journey? Robert Ghazal, TD Bank Group Senior Vice President, Prairie Region, has some advice whether you’re a start-up or scaling up.
- Have a 360° view of your business. “It’s easy to get caught up in an idea, but take the time to think it through. Plan ahead as much as you can.”
- Be aware of the work ahead. “A successful business requires the proverbial blood, sweat and tears. You have to be ready for the workload it takes.”
- Watch for blind spots. “In the race to succeed, it’s easy to miss things. Protect yourself and your venture. Identify all the risks and mitigate accordingly.”