Technology is changing the way people are able to access information but this isn’t always the case for marginalized communities who don't have access to job search resources.
When Robin Daultani first moved to Calgary in 2012, he was working for an oil and gas company. After about five years he pivoted into tech and had the opportunity to work with a fast growing company that specialized in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. This is when he fell in love with Calgary’s tech and innovation sector.
Throughout his journey, he noticed that a lot of conversations surrounding technology revolved around productivity and automation. Very few people talked about how we could use technology to impact people.
Growing up in India, he experienced first hand how not having access to technology can be a barrier and how there is so much opportunity for technology to create a positive impact and create a change in the world. In April 2019, he dove into his own startup and through the process he discovered Rainforest Alberta.
He was inspired by the support, mentorship and give-back mentality of the community that helped him through his journey of creating Nicerr.
Inspired by the Social Contract values of diversity and trust, Robin created Nicerr as a social enterprise to give back to the community. There are many companies that say they are an equal employer, but Robin found that that wasn’t the case if many people couldn’t access the job market.
He learned that:
70% of jobs are not posted online and are hired by referral
30% of people are only applying for what they think could do versus what they can actually do
These statistics meant that diverse and marginalized communities who don’t have existing representation in the job market are not able to apply for more meaningful and progressive work. Nicerr is working to change this, with the goal of helping organizations and communities build a truly diverse and equal culture.
He starts by building a culture of trust within Nicerr. It is one of the company's guiding principles to build trust within himself, with his clients and his employees. Robin empowers his employees to make decisions and he always takes a personalized, hands-on approach with his clients.
Just like any startup - especially during a pandemic - Nicerr has pivoted to meet the evolving needs of their customers. Since the beginning Nicerr has always been a social enterprise. Since 2019, they have raised $6000 for charities. They have evolved from a platform that helped individuals with career and job advice to a new offering in 2021. The new platform allows individuals to receive career and job advice from industry professionals, build connections and find opportunities that many employers aren’t posting on job boards or sites.
Nicerr enables individuals to have equal access to job opportunities, create a lasting network, and gain advice from experienced industry professionals. For the professionals, it offers a gamified approach to earn community badges for volunteering their time.
Currently, Robin is collaborating with nonprofits and charities that work with diverse and marginalized communities like Iqaluit who don’t have access to opportunities, to make sure that everyone is able to find a career.
There is so much work to be done, but Robin feels blessed that the technology sector has progressed so fast, especially in Calgary. Robin’s passionate drive, positive spirit, and love for creating social impact is changing the way companies hire and connect with diverse communities in and outside of Calgary.
To learn more about Nicerr, check out their website, or follow them on LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Where do you go when you are a new Canadian looking to get involved in Calgary’s tech and innovation community?
Calgary has long been known for our work in oil and gas so whether you are new or have been working in the city for a while, most people don’t think of Calgary as a flourishing tech hub. New Canadians have even been known to choose other areas of Canada to find work and a life for themselves because of this.
With Calgary being so oil and gas-focused, how do we change the city’s economic narrative while supporting new Canadians’ careers in our city?
This is the thought that came to Wunmi Adekanmbi, as she became curious about what was happening in the growing tech and innovation sector within Calgary.
Having moved from Nigeria to Canada, Wunmi experienced firsthand how new Canadians face the challenges of leaving behind a network and building a new one, while exploring careers in different sectors.
Wunmi believes in a two-pronged strategy. First, shift the narrative of Calgary’s economy and second, provide space and resources for immigrant professionals to contribute at their highest capacity to building Calgary's new economy.
There are many programs for immigrants in our city, however Wunmi found that even though they exist, it doesn’t mean they fit the needs of new Canadians or that new Canadians are able to access them.
To fill this gap, Wunmi created a meetup group called Immigrant Techies Alberta to create awareness, change the perception and create a safe space for newcomers to learn and become involved with tech. Through the support of the community, and implementing the values of trust and diversity from the Rainforest Alberta social contract, Immigrant Techies Alberta currently has 174 members and continues to grow.
Since November 2020, Wunmi has been inviting guest speakers to talk about different tech topics and opening an exploratory space for diversity and curiosity. Immigrant Techies Alberta provides a sense of community and support for newcomers to Calgary.
Wunmi is driven by her own curiosity and excitement for innovation and is inspired by the impact and potential of a single human being. As a graduate of the Rainforest Alberta LIBI program, she is working further to address the gaps in the industry by creating ReSkill Calgary, which is currently in the phase of exploring industry partnerships.
When people complete reskilling programs, they are often left to find their own way by self-practising their learnings and networking their way into tech roles. For a new Canadian, these challenges run even deeper. What comes natural to someone who grew up in Canada, such as small talk, is actually big talk for a newcomer to Canada. New Canadians have to re-learn as they become part of a new community.
Wunmi is changing this narrative by not only bringing awareness to tech, but by empowering new Calgarians to find their way, embrace their skills and become their true self. ReSkill Calgary will offer personalized coaching, enable competency training, industry support that is currently missing for new Canadians, and curated end-to-end solutions that ensure the full integration of new Canadian professionals in Alberta’s innovation ecosystem.
This is something that can’t be done overnight, but Wunmi Adekanmbi brings her courageous “why not” drive, passionate curiosity, and love for empowering marginalized groups to realize their full potential in Calgary’s growing innovation ecosystem. She is not only changing their stories, but showing the world how much more Calgary has to offer.
To learn more about Immigrant Techies Alberta check out The meetup group and stay up to date with events on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
On May 4, 2021 Rainforest Alberta Calgary hosted our first virtual Summit. As of 2021, Calgary's ecosystem-our Rainforest- is growing rampantly. Inspired by this growth and a fireside chat with Rainforest Co-Author Greg Horowitt, earlier in the year, the summit focused on rerooting the community in the social contract. 2021 also provided many firsts for the summit in Calgary. Being that the event was virtual, it wasn't bounded by space and everyone was welcome to attend.
If you missed or want to revisit the Rainforest Summit, you can see the full report and highlights here!
We are inspired by all of the amazing people in the community. We want to share the stories of those who have been nominated as a Rainforest Role Model.
Adam Ludgate brings a spirit of collaboration, storytelling and connection to the Rainforest Alberta community. As one of the Rainforest Alberta Podcast hosts, Adam is the most listened to host, moved out of his comfort zone, and interviewed some big names in the ecosystem.
He saw a need in the community and believed in the LIBI podcast's vision, and continues to come through with new episodes when the community needs a host. Thank you for being an inspiring and supportive member of the #RainforestAB community!
Jade Alberts truly exemplifies what it means to give back to the community. He is always sharing his experiences and knowledge freely in helping entrepreneurs start their journey. His #Podcast show Telling it like it is highlights leaders and provides insights to aspiring entrepreneurs.
He's always willing to lend a hand, spread the message of exciting things happening in the community, and sharing his deep knowledge and advice without asking for anything in return. Thank you for being such an inspiring and positive member of the #RainforestAB community.
Tom Pepevnak has offered his legal, business and strategic guidance to dozens of entrepreneurs and start-ups. He brings positive energy, a willingness to support others, and a lifetime of experience that he shares at #LWOL and with the community.
Thank you for being a positive and friendly member of the #RainforestAB community!
Peter Lafontaine brings passion and generosity to the #RainforestAB community. He's always leading by example, gives back endlessly and shares his knowledge with everyone he meets.
He's always there to lend a hand, provide inspirational insight, and inspires others to give back. He also volunteers his time influencing the provincial leaders to promote our High Tech industry, is an active member of Data for Good and is a geek too. Thank you for being a passionate and inspirational member of the community for 4 years.
Is there someone in the community who has inspired you? We want to hear their stories. Nominate them as a Rainforest Role Model!
Without a doubt, 2020 challenged us and yet brought to light the value technology plays out in our lives. More than ever, a sense of community and a spirit of collaboration has reverberated among us. 2020 started strong with bold initiatives for Rainforest and the Calgary ecosystem. There were projects up to the height of the Calgary tower to execute on: ecosystem mapping, a collaborative volunteer program, a teen tech showcase with the Library, Cheers to the Grassroots version two, visits to large tech companies for the summer tour, and that was just the first half of 2020!
Well, you know what happened as well as we do. And yet, here we are, connecting weekly. Averaging 40 people per week online, consistently, and we couldn’t be more proud. The pandemic meant we teamed up with Edmonton to offer LWOL (Lunch Without Lunch) to a broader audience with combined efforts. The online format did not allow for the same serendipitous connections as in person events but we managed to bring value in other ways. Panel speakers, month long topics, and the summer tour continued to offer new musings about how, as a community, we can continue to improve the innovation economy in Alberta.
Rainforest Calgary teamed up with Startup Calgary to offer Power Hour in conjunction with StartUp Pitches and Drinks online. This was a great way to expand our reach into the community. As StartUp Calgary moves under the Platform umbrella, programming and events are being updated to reflect the needs of the community. The goal for 2020 was to partner with other meetups as well. This may be realized into 2021 as many groups have successfully moved back online.
Steven left the Rainforest team to pursue full-time work with the Leftovers Foundation in early April. Brigitte was hired at the end of August to breathe new life into Rainforest and continue the work of responding to the community into 2021. Kourtney announced her departure for the end of 2020 (though she is likely going to hang around a few hours a week supporting for a couple months into 2021). The community manager roles will always ebb and flow and this is part of how we can continue to ensure Rainforest stays relevant and not stuck in an outdated model of behaviour (also thanks covid for shaking that up).
2020 provided an opportunity for us to reflect as a community and measure ourselves. We put out three reports.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the scorecard measurement went up from 629 to 686 and made big gains in the Culture and Leadership pillar. This is a testament to the continued efforts of the entire community committing to the values of the social contract and wanting to raise the bar in Calgary.
The LIBI Podcast continued with weekly releases throughout 2020 with guests and hosts from across the province. The podcast continues to showcase innovators, dreamers, and amazing ecosystem builders. January 12, 2021 will be the 100th podcast episode!
Highlights from 2020
Nine entrepreneurs worked through the LIBI Fund Program, getting training to help them validate their startup. They participated in Startup 101 and Customer 101 & 201 from StartUp Calgary, Marketing or Sales Kickstarter from 321 Growth Academy, received $200 in credits from Good Lawyer, and three expert sessions from Nicerr. The entrepreneurs will be presenting at LWOL session in January on their takeaways from the program. Thanks to every who supported the entrepreneurs in their early states.
All the best,