Author: Deb Cummings
How does splitting an order of eggs Benedict and a tea bag allow someone enough capital to create not one, but hundreds of awards and scholarships? Not that we’re counting, but if we were, Esmail Bharwani and his wife, Safana, stand out for the sheer volume of scholarships they’ve created and contribute to at the University of Calgary.
And not just here, but other post-secondary institutions from Bow Valley College and Mount Royal University to Athabasca University. All benefit from the 90-plus annual scholarships (perpetual) that are distributed through the Bharwanis’ family foundation.
Some of their student scholarships target newcomers to Canada, while others aim to help single parents — some are $250, others are as high as $1,000.
“It’s quite simple, really: I am interested in maximizing the number of students who can benefit from our gifts,” explains Esmail, LLB’04, over a shared lunch at OEB Breakfast Co.
Splitting a lunch, down to a tea bag, precisely reflects his outlook on finances.
“Of course, we don’t have to split an eggs Benedict,” Esmail chuckles. “But it’s why I don’t have to eat at a posh restaurant or have a $70 steak . . . I can find a $20 meal and be just as happy. Why waste $50 when I could put that money into the Foundation or give somebody an award? I tell my kids that I don’t waste money on anything that really has no value in my life.”
“My thinking is this,” explains the Tanzanian retiree, whose career saw him progress from stenographer to accountant to UCalgary-educated lawyer. “It’s better to give small amounts to 10 people than give one large amount to one person. I like to think of the process like a Lotto 6/49 ticket. Sure, one person could win the $49-million jackpot but, frankly, I’d rather see 49 people get $1 million each. That way, you make 49 families happy.
“Over the years, lots of students have told me that even a small amount has helped them buy groceries that month because they had just spent all their money on student fees or tuition.”
Read full article at University of Calgary Alumni