Be the Light Society is offering $2,500 scholarships to 20 girls in need

Students of South Asian descent in B.C. are eligible to apply

Not only is Karen Dosanjh known for her successful career as a tech marketing executive, she is also known for using her voice and platform to speak up for the South Asian community in B.C. and beyond. She serves as vice president of marketing and communications at California-based management consultancy OSI Digital, and she graced the cover of BCBusiness’s Women of the Year issue earlier this year for winning the Entrepreneurial Leader category of our annual awards competition. 

Dosanjh is also one of 19 board members of Be the Light Society. The Vancouver-based nonprofit—co-founded by Rajbir Grewal, Amneet Athwal and Jothi Garcha last year—is working to lift barriers that South Asian women and girls often face on the journey to advancing their professional lives. 

“A recent study by [global nonprofit] Catalyst talks about how South Asian women still make 55 percent less than non-racialized men,” says Dosanjh. “And if you’re a South Asian woman who’s a mother, you make less than that, if you’re a South Asian woman who is a new immigrant to Canada, you make less than that. So there is absolutely a disparity, and we want to change things.” 

To help women overcome all kinds of social and cultural barriers, on November 2, Be the Light held its second annual Diwali event gala to raise funds for South Asian girls in need. Namely, 12th graders who are about to graduate high school, who can demonstrate a financial need, and who have been accepted into a post-secondary institution.  

The goal was to be able to support 20 girls with $2,500 scholarships each—“and we might have even raised more,” says Dosanjh. “We’re still crunching the numbers, but we absolutely hit our target.” Fifty women came together for the cause last year, and this year, 250.  

With keynote speakers like finance executive Manica Blain and beauty entrepreneur Lisa Mattam, the purpose of the gala went beyond fundraising, notes Dosanjh. It offered unique networking and mentorship opportunities with a mix of executives and professionals of all ages, at various stages of their career, representing a wide range of industries. Two of last year’s scholarship winners were in attendance this time around, according to Dosanjh, and they’re now working professionals in school. 

“This has become their community,” she says, encouraging people to apply for the opportunity here. “It’s really hard to make deep connections here, so that’s what Be the Light is… Individually, we have an impact, but when we join forces, we become a powerhouse for change.”