Emily Jones Joanisse and Tasneem (Tas) Damen are both co-founders of Connected Canadians, a new non-profit focused on connecting older adults with free technology training and support. They started this “side-hustle” after years of being asked to help people’s moms with IT issues. During this process it occurred to them that Canadians of a certain age, could benefit from IT support. So helping mom became a great IT social enterprise project.
During the day, Emily works for i-Sight Software, a case management software company that does things such as fraud investigation. Emily has clients all over the globe and manages a team of business analysts, developers and quality assurance specialists. A fun fact about Emily is she is actually an internationally traveled DJ – see djemilyjones.com. Emily has a background in Computer Science and though it served her well and gave her technical skills, she realized she liked the soft skills and the people side of tech much more.
Tas works at SMITH which is a consulting company where she is a Principal Architect helping develop e-commerce software. The two met three years ago on a job and put their heads together coming up with Connected Canadians. Tas developed a passion for science in third grade and wanted to do something theoretical. Tas ended up going to university for mathematics and stumbled into programming and she enjoyed the analytical aspect and solving complex problems.
Throughout the episode, Tas and Emily speak about their very unique observations about their careers in tech and their journey creating Connected Canadians. They have discovered the following:
- Digital literacy should be seen as a basic human right. There are many well-funded digital literacy focused organizations for children and youth but aren’t seniors as deserving of this type of knowledge and training?
- Historically, women have not had the same encouragement to study STEM fields that men have. Since finding that they have created the “wecanhelpyourmom.com” campaign.
- Volunteering to help others with tech skill training is a lot different than helping your own family. Helping your family is often riddled with emotional baggage and everyone loses their cool a lot faster. Helping outside your family is a great way to meet others and hone your IT chops.
About Connected Canadians
Connected Canadians is a new non-profit organization empowering seniors and older adults by providing free technology training and support. Connected Canadians is entirely volunteer-run and they have about 30 volunteers between the ages of 21 and 71. Volunteers help not only with tech training for seniors but also with the related administration work and telling their story via photos, videos, and social media. Additionally, many Connected Canadian volunteers are new Canadians who are highly skilled technology workers and among them, they speak 12 languages. The volunteers benefit from the cultural awareness and conversational practice opportunities that come from their interaction with clients and our clients are able to feel a sense of pride and connection in helping to welcome these newcomers into our community. You can follow Connected Canadians on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter. They are currently looking for new sponsors and partners to help scale up. You can connect with both Emily and Tas on Linkedin.