Centennial College professor of Business Development Nira Sharma noticed a recurring challenge in Toronto communities, especially her Nepalese community: there were many people with in-demand skill sets, businesses and services, but their fellow community members were unaware. As a result, people were searching for services and expertise outside of their community that were, unbeknownst to them, already in their community.
“I had a few incidents in my own community where community members were having a difficult time accessing support. And then I realized that if I had some sort of tool that would connect people together, people who wanted to have [access to services] or were in need would be helpful towards each other. That’s where the project came from.”
Nira had a vision to address the challenge through her company, Tarun Consultancy, which aims to bridge those gaps in service, demand and need. “Instead of doing all this word of mouth, why don’t we have some tool and a common place so that everyone can put in requests for services [and receive them]?” At this point WIMTACH became a pivotal part to her company’s story.
Nira was not new to WIMTACH. Due to several reasons, she wasn’t able to partner with WIMTACH in 2018 to progress her idea forward. She has, however, taken the role of Principal Investigator on several WIMTACH projects since 2018. And, as a professor of the College, she also knew the kind of work load she would have to take on in order to participate in an applied research project. When she met the Director and Project Manager of the WIMTACH team, she sought advice for proceeding with her idea.
“When I was helping other companies with their marketing plan I talked to Jeziel (Project Manager) and said, “I have this idea. Do you think it would fly through WIMTACH?”
After many conversations about the project, including the scope, work plan, budget and technical expertise required, WIMTACH granted Tarun Consultancy a voucher of $10,000 under the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) because of its approach to connecting people and the direct impact the project would have on communities across the city. The project involved creating a web application to address that challenge. Professor Blessing Ajiboye was the Principal Investigator on the project who handpicked the Student Researchers and led the technical development of the web application. For Nira, the experience was valuable beyond the deliverable.
“The students had a lot to balance, but they were really helpful and kind. Sometimes they would work on weekends and stay after classes [to work on the project]. They were really cooperative and Professor Blessing was great. I enjoyed working with all of them.”
The project deliverable was a link to a functional web application that could host people’s skill sets in an organized fashion and allow people to request them. Nira foresees other geographical and ethnic communities replicating the application to use in their own communities so that they can strengthen their community ties. And in the near future, Nira hopes to partner with WIMTACH again to enhance the web application with more features and develop a mobile application to accompany it to increase accessibility.
“I had a very positive experience with WIMTACH…I would recommend anyone or startup who would like to get going with their ideas…and that they think WIMTACH can help them out. It’s the best place to contact because the students are there and the teachers [expertise] are there and the staff is very cooperative. Everytime I would walk in [to the WIMTACH office], they were all over the place in terms of helping other people out. But they were always supportive and always positive and always try to go the extra mile.”
For more information about WIMTACH’s funding services, please click here.
WIMTACH proudly recognizes funding to support this work from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program of the Ontario Centres of Excellence