Creating a Buzz in Downtown Sydney: Meet Ajay Balyan

Ajay Balyan came to Cape Breton Island as an international student in 2016 from India to study in the Public Administration program at Cape Breton University. Graduating in 2019, Ajay and his brother, Ankit, have created a buzz in downtown Sydney by purchasing one of the area’s most known and recognizable buildings – Smart Shop Place.

Since moving to Cape Breton, Ajay has opened a restaurant called Swaagat – The Real Taste of India, which has seen steady success in the community. His goal with his recent purchase is to create a downtown hub of restaurants all under one roof.

“I feel very proud of how I can contribute to my community and feel proud to be part of a community that has recently seen a population growth, and I am part of that,” says Ajay. “International students play a big role now in the community, and we all need to figure out how to keep that momentum going.”

Recently, CBU announced bold plans to build the Centre for Discovery and Innovation on the CBU campus. This new building will not only support future students and allow CBU to grow to fit the needs and the demand of students, but it will also play a key role in helping grow the population while driving the economy as we deal with the post-Covid-19 recovery.

“President Dingwall said during the announcement that as a result of international students studying at CBU, the population in Cape Breton increased for the first time in more than 20 years. I am very proud to be part of that growth,” says Ajay. “I am an example of how international students can have a lasting impact on Cape Breton.”

To learn more about the plans to build the Centre for Discovery and Innovation, visit