The 2017 Soul of the Next Economy Forum had some incredible learnings and outcomes. One of the winners of the Lion’s Den Social Innovation Challenge was Lino, who started a project to identify the lack of career paths for immigrants in Calgary.
We interviewed Lino to see how the project has progressed since the Forum.
SF: So why did you start this project focused on the lack of career paths for immigrants in Calgary?
L: My wife and I are immigrants, and we have many friends who are immigrants. When we came to Canada we found that there were lots of resources to help immigrants find employment, but it was not a coordinated effort.
SF: Wow that must have been a challenge. So who would you say is your target audience?
L: We’re focusing our efforts on helping economic immigrants- working professional adults who want to get into the workforce in Canada quickly. There are 13,000-15,000 new economic immigrants coming to Calgary every year!
SF: What were some recommendations or solutions that you’ve been exploring?
L: We think the answer to this problem is having a coordinated, combined effort, and a comprehensive support system for immigrants. A place where all services can be found, including mentoring, coaching, resume help, language/ English assistance, help with credential approvals, etc. As well as dedicated coaches or advisors to help immigrants navigate the system and get all the services they need. There’s lots out there, but it’s just hard for immigrants to know what they need and where to find it.
SF: Sounds like a great plan! What happened after Lion’s Den?
L: At the Lion’s Den Social Innovation Challenge, we presented these recommendations, and we have since started an initiative called “Career Path Maker.” We’ve also started reaching out to people, and getting connected to networks all over Alberta. We’ve learned a lot about how different organizations are approaching this issue. And we’ve found that Edmonton is doing a good job listening and talking to people, and coming up with innovate solutions. And now we’ve started a social enterprise.
SF: Amazing! What’s the mission behind the social enterprise?
L: All we do is around the belief that immigrants can lift themselves up to fulfill their potential, and society as a whole will be better off because of it. Our big dream is to help support immigrants.
SF: And what does that look like now?
L: We’re building a career management app to help immigrants define and reach their career goals. It’s kind of like a game- where career goals are part of a race in which people complete tasks that may require the help of others. There’s a series of quests that people do as they navigate the next steps of their career or employment. Some quests take a shorter time to finish and you can do on your own, but others are longer and may require the help or support of others. For example, a shorter quest may be identifying your goals for the day, and a longer quest may be meeting with a mentor or identifying your life vision in three years. And there will be milestones along the way, or smaller tasks for each week or month to help reach your goals.
SF: Wow! That all sounds so innovative and fun! A big part of Lion’s Den is about connecting social entrepreneurs into the social impact ecosystem. What has that been like since Lion’s Den? Have you made any connections or found some value in the networks that Lion’s Den provided?
L: Yes! As part of the grant application process, we had to interview someone in that space already. We met with Renee Black from Peace Geeks, a non-profit organization in Vancouver that provides technology, tools, and training to organizations working to promote peace and human rights. We learned about Services Advisor, an application that Peace Geeks is building to make it easier for newcomers to access immigrant services in Vancouver. Resources like mentorship and employment skills, with information provided in their native language, will help welcome new Canadians to our shores. We are also getting connected to a mentor through EDGE and the Social Mentor Network. And with the grant money we won, we’ve been able to pay for the digital foundation of the organization (website and developer expenses). So we’re very thankful for that.
SF: That’s great! How can we keep updated with the project and continue supporting or sharing what you’re doing?
L: We recently launched our website www.careerpathmaker.com, and we are piloting the app in a few months! Stay tuned on our website for more updates.
SF: Thanks Lino! We’ll make sure to keep sharing about your project!