Raza Jafri

Inspiring Canadians  | An Entrepreneur Feature


Raza’s Story:
Raza grew up in Montreal Canada where he loved playing Sim City as a child. He quickly realized the value of creating sustainable cities that can help all citizens thrive in urban environments. He graduated from Urban Planning and Sustainable Development at Concordia University, which led him into a career of building design and sustainable architecture. Raza completed his MBA at Queens University in Kingston Ontario and began building the foundation for what are now two exciting and rapidly growing startups in the Canadian Tech scene. As the Founder and CEO of 3D CityScapes inc. Raza has brought together his love for Urban Planning and 3D Digital Twin Technology to create the most realistic immersive environments for Prop Tech, Asset Management and Gaming.

How does Raza inspire others?:
Raza is an inspiration to his teammates and beyond. As a well-known public speaker and mentor, he continues to strive towards providing real-life knowledge to next-gen entrepreneurs and students. Raza speaks 5 languages and loves working with education-focused charities. His hard work and dedication towards building bridges and helping others overcome their fears as they look towards their own entrepreneurial journeys have allowed him to give back and provide useful tools for those who seek to be the future sustainable technology catalysts of our world.


What is the message that Raza would like to spread? Believe in yourself and never be afraid to take a chance on yourself

What is Raza’s super power? Lighting up any room with positive energy!

Learn more about Raza’s work and 3d CityScapes. https://3dcityscapes.ca/ 


 

Top 10 Small Business Grants Canada

Canadian small business grants

The CoronaVirus pandemic has left many people jobless and small businesses struggling. Thousands of Canadians are feeling insecure about their financial future. As such, most opt to buy items based on small prices, forgo regular memberships, and stay indoors to save.

What about those small businesses struggling to stay in the game? Where does this leave them?  It’s crucial to remember that these businesses are crucial to Canada’s economic growth. They play a vital role in our families and communities.

And that’s why the government offers grants to support. This is important especially during these crucial times. These grants are currently available for different SMEs.  Here are the ten best grants that can help your business today.


1. CanExport Program

The CanExport Program is not a new grant in Canada. It’s given to support export marketing and international expansion. The program has recently undergone some temporary changes due to the pandemic. Exporters can get up to 75% grants for their project costs.

2. Canada Job Grant

This is a government program designed to cut the costs of finding third-party skills training for new and current employees. You can find it in every province and territory. This is a non-repayable grant that can cover 50 to 100% of the training costs. 

It’s available for SMEs with $2M liability insurance. Utilize this grant to give your employees a better chance to compete in the global market.

3. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Technology Assessment Program (CMETAP)

The CMETAP is a program that offers support to manufacturers in Southern Ontario. It seeks to help them improve their systems, processes, and equipment by bringing in third-party assessments, covering up to 100% of the costs.

Any manufacturer can qualify for this grant. You just have to see the requirements and make sure you have everything needed.

4. Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC)

ISC avails government grants and procurement contracts for technology research and development. The program is for startups and SMEs, helping them overcome development difficulties, with up to $150k in phase one.

The second phase gets over $1m and their phase has an unlimited offer. This is one of the best grants for innovators. 

5. Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

Any research-based or technical project is eligible for the IRAP grant. It’s aimed to help them resolve internal innovation challenges with up to 80% of direct labor and 50% of subcontracting costs. 

A company must have 1 to 500 people on its payroll. With this grant, a company can get outside technology experts to look at what’s working for them and what’s not.

6. Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen)

The NGen is a grant that supports collaborative development in technology and applications that boost Canadian manufacturers to a global market. 

A company can get an offset of up to 44% of the qualified project expenses. It is open to all businesses. Apply for this grant to fund your next gen innovation. 

7. The Canadian Emergency Response

Canadian businesses have received close to $100 billion to combat the effects of the pandemic. Any business that was registered and active before March 1, 2020, stands a chance to get this grant. 

The pandemic affected many businesses. This is one way for the government to keep them operating, for a bright economic future. 

8. Ontario Creates’ Interactive Digital Media Fund (IDMF)

The Ontario government offers the IDMF grant to take care of part of the costs relate to concept definition and production. Digital media developers can use this grant to leverage government funding for their growth. 

They can get up to 50% of the expenses. Apply for this grant if you are running a business in Ontario. 

9. Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

Technology development and productivity-boosting projects can apply for the SIF funding. This is a program that supports large-scale investments. It also encourages technological innovations by offering up to 50% of project costs.

10. Hiring Grants

Canada offers a wide range of hiring grants. They can be used for the onboarding and training of new employees. The amount depends on the size of the organization. It’s a good way for companies to keep operating amidst challenges.


Conclusion

There are many grants in Canada that can help your business grow. Take advantage of them and take your business to the next level.


  • Article based on personal opinion, experience and research.
  • Photos from Unsplash & canva.

 Reference

  1. https://www.mentorworks.ca/blog/government-funding/small-business-grants-canada/
  2. https://refund.grantsinternational.com/cews/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5aWOBhDMARIsAIXLlkdKhVuX4qRUk9K9EU9Z8Nuktxwgo_Ui_Mpbklke52RKuhPj60v2y5QaAkyGEALw_wcB&keyword=business%20subsidies%20canada&adgroupid=124614709874&adid=520887154695&targetid=kwd-297020308931&gclid=Cj0KCQiA5aWOBhDMARIsAIXLlkdKhVuX4qRUk9K9EU9Z8Nuktxwgo_Ui_Mpbklke52RKuhPj60v2y5QaAkyGEALw_wcB 
 

Not every kid after high school wants to go to college or continue their education further. Some of them are more tempted to join the workforce right away and find a good job in something they like and would like to learn.


Regarding myself, for instance, I decided to study and work in construction, our subject for this article. See, here’s what happens when you finish high school, we all, or at least most of us, make the mistake of “following the trend” and what pays the most, disregarding what we would love to do and what each one of us, as an individual, is good at.


So, in this article, we will be focusing on the pros and cons of construction as a career, and 5 lessons I learned from working in it.

To begin with, as for construction, you need to be at least 16 years old, pass the provincial qualification exam for the trade covered by the application, successfully complete the health and general safety course for construction sites and have a high school diploma.

However, for most construction labour jobs, a high school diploma is the minimum education requirement. Moreover, trade school teaches you ways on how to become a skilled construction worker.

You’ll learn how to use certain equipment, read plans, tools, heavy machinery and how to drive boom lift machines. Some domains demand long training, like electrician schooling, for instance, takes up to about 9 months in class and 4 years to complete, with 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year of your apprenticeship. My first experience in construction was a very cold Monday morning in Montreal Canada. I was shocked, on one hand by the weather, on the other that I couldn’t wear my winter coat because it made it impossible to tie my tool belt around my waist. I learn later that most people wear two layers of hoodies, and that’s the typical winter coat for a construction worker. It was a contract for the city of Montreal, a library for the city of Pierrefonds in West End. As I enter the construction site, I could see the building didn’t even have walls or windows installed. From there, I knew this was going to be a long ride to get to know this domain, but all challenges were accepted, so why not, and spring was about to come shortly.

At this library, I had the chance to be there from the start to the end of the project, it gave me 2 and half years of experience in construction and that was my favourite job site, I learned everything there. My first work partner was Michael, he was 63 years old, he started to work as a tinsmith at the age of 16 years old, that’s all he knew, but he was the best I’ve ever met in the field. For you who don’t know, a tinsmith is someone who is a worker who makes or repairs things of sheet metal such as tinplate.

My first lesson came from Mike, he taught me to always be aware of everything going around me if I don’t want to get hurt. There are more than 100 people on a big commercial job site, such as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, elevator mechanics and more. With Mike, we were doing everything from installing ventilation systems to assembling runs for other workers. He taught me how to read a plan, which is very hard to understand the first time because it’s not a plan designed only for you, but for the whole site, and you got to understand every quotation and measure very well so as not to get stopped by a wall or pipeline from somebody else’s work, and Mike only explains once, if you weren’t listening, that’s your problem. Louis was my second work partner; I would share the day with him sometimes when Mike didn’t need my help. He was the best teacher ever because he would make sure you understood well before letting you go. He taught me how to work correctly, to take my time no matter what, because in construction it was harder to redo a job than to just do it once. He showed me how to be fully equipped with clothing and tools, and how to sign up for advantages and insurance. My second lesson was to be patient on everything and never rush.

My first construction site was my favourite and I thought every job site was going to have the same environment and work ethic. It was totally the opposite of that, I never had the chance to be in a great team like the first one and learned again like that. I was, most of the time, getting transferred from job site to job site and that was something that bothered me.

Sometimes mother nature has other plans for you, and that’s where my third lesson will help you be prepared the most. One day, on a hot humid day in Montreal downtown, we were renovating Holt Renfrew Ogilvy; it was really one of the most challenging and demanding sites ever. Most of the stores and offices were still open during the renovation because we were working per section of the building. That day we received 2 full 53” foot trucks full of equipment ventilation docs, ladders, plan tables, isolations, rods, suspension equipment and boxes of tape and glue. We were three apprentices and we all had the same task to empty this truck before lunch. It started to pour rain, not even 15 minutes in and one guy had to go back inside to help the others. We ended up being 2 guys to unload both trucks in the rain, and I always look a day before on how the weather is going to be and by doing that you get to bring more clothes to the job or at least be more prepared, however, on that day I was totally wrong. By the time we finished the wet unloading marathon, I was drenched from head to toe and had to continue the rest of the day like this, there was no easy way I could go home and come back in time, lunch break was only 30 minutes and that was the time it took me to get home.

The fourth lesson in construction always has extra clothing because you never know how the day is going to be.

In the fifth lesson, you got to have your own tools on you. Nobody really likes to share their equipment because equipment gets stolen, I learned that the hard way. At first, I didn’t have a tool bag, it takes time to assemble the right equipment because most of them were expensive and you always have a limited budget.


Most people think that because you finish at two o’clock in the afternoon that your job is amazing. However, waking up at four in the morning, being the only one getting ready to go to work and knowing that at six am it’s time to go to work until two o’clock was tiring physically! During your day, you’re going to walk kilometres of distance along with moving and lifting heavy equipment all day. Most of the time I was working alone and in tough environments, sometimes working at night, doing demolition, working underground and not seeing daylight. It was a lot of things that I didn’t know about and day by day I was losing interest in the job and staying there only for money wasn’t the best route to take. At the end of the day, I was always exhausted both physically and mentally due to the hours I was spending driving and working. I wanted more and knew I was capable of more; a better lifestyle was the only thing I had in mind. Also, on a site, even a minor slip or fall can cause serious injury. While work sites are much safer now than ever before, dangerous work conditions are still something you must always keep in mind before choosing construction work as your livelihood. Construction is a very broad term, and the pay scales will vary depending on the type of construction job you are doing, as well as your skillset. However, compared to other labour jobs, a construction worker can expect to enjoy an excellent paycheck when there is work. Construction is a very broad term, and the pay scales will vary depending on the type of construction job you are doing, as well as your skillset. However, compared to other labour jobs, a construction worker can expect to enjoy an excellent paycheck when there is work. In general, many trades allow you to earn $50,000 or more after you have enough experience. Also, if you own your own business, work for a successful company, or serve in a management/supervisor role, you can earn even more. Another advantage to working in construction is that for many trades, it’s easy to enter the trade and start a career with almost no experience. For many trades, you can start as a labourer, work hard, learn the trade over a few years, and progress in your skills, position, and salary. Many contractors in trades like carpentry, remodelling, and more, are looking for people that are hard-working and willing to learn. During your first two years in construction, you’re going to get tested by the more experienced individuals, depending on your team and company as well. You’re always going to be the one chosen for ‘cleaning day’, which happens to be every Friday, empty the garbage’s in the employee room, empty the Forman truck every morning when he brings material, arrange the storage room daily, isolate the vents with a special glue, and this is all probably what you’re going to be doing for a while from Monday to Friday.

Takeaway

Therefore, you have to be patient no matter what the circumstances are and whatever they throw at you. It’s hard to adapt at first, but after a couple of months, you’re going to get your chance to install and work with the others. If you do good, you’ll probably never do these old tasks again. This is my full two-year experience in the construction world and my first taste of life and adulthood. I learned a lot in those years, I was only seventeen when I started. Being interested in construction helped me fix stuff around the house and being handy; builds character and helps you mature faster. So, for every young man that doesn’t know what to do after high school and wants to experience this field, you will not regret it no matter how it ends.

A bike on the side of a road in the middle of the woods

As a traveling entrepreneur (or digital nomad), biking through long stretches of land with few people to interact with, I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate on life and work. I am often struck by the parallels between life and biking, and try to match the lessons I learn on my cycling journeys to things I face in my daily life.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned on the bike that have positively impacted my life.

 

1. Winds and weather matter, but not as much as your drive

Through my travels, the only thing that I could never really prepare for was the weather. You put on your windbreaker, it gets hot. You take it off, it rains.

You can try to prepare, but coping with the weather is more about your reaction to it than your preparation for it.

As I was biking on the coast of Portugal, heading from Porto to Lisbon, the winds were blowing at 55kms per hour. What looked like a flat or downhill trail felt like an uphill trek. What was supposed to be a small hill felt like a mountain. Oh boy, was it demotivating.

But it was the drive that pushed me, not the wind.

Drive should never be dampened by the situation or environment we find ourselves in. We shouldn’t allow the overwhelming power that hits us in the face to derail our dreams and hold us back. Neither should we let it be an excuse to give up.

Trees grow through buildings. Plants sprout through solid ground. Countries rise from the ashes and ruins of destruction.

Don’t let the wind affect your drive, determination or will to succeed.

2. Take it one pedal at a time

Coming across a particularly long and steep slope while biking can be discouraging. But cyclists know that what matters most is the next pedal. If you can focus on that, you can overcome the slope.

At the bottom is not the time to think about the full effort of getting to the top. It’s the time to get your butt off the seat and start using every ounce of energy, every cell in your body to push that next pedal. And the next. And the next. And the next. Until you’ve pushed yourself up that hill.

It’s the same in life and work.

Most of us get discouraged when we see where we are in relation to where we want to be. Too many people get off the bike at the first sight of a steep slope. They don’t even try that first pedal. They give up on their ideas and dreams because they’re too focused on the full mountain of effort involved.

Stay on the bike. Ignore the mountain. Focus on the next pedal and you’ll get there.

Photo of a village in north of spain

3. Shift gears to suit the path

As a cyclist, you switch to low gear when going uphill. Faced with a downhill, you switch to high gear. If you are going on a long ride, you find a gear that suits your comfort and endurance.

You are constantly shifting gears based on the situation, urgency and environment.

The same goes for your daily life and work. You shift to high gear to meet a deadline. You go on low gear to relax a bit. Above all, you need to find a combination that suits you in the long run. A gear that is balanced and sustainable for you. Pay attention to your gears.

 

4. Always have your tool kit/spare tire and be ready to get your hands dirty

Every cyclist knows that a tool kit and spare tire are must-haves. Even if you are going on a short ride, you never know what to expect. Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

In life, it is always good to be prepared for any situation and to accept that there will be times when you just have to get your hands dirty.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

 

5. Keep moving forward

Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” What he didn’t say is to that you must keep moving forward.

It doesn’t matter your speed or how far you go each day, as long as you are continually moving forward and making progress.

Alto del pedron in spain

Always move forward. Make progress every day, even if it’s something small. Make progress a habit, not an occasion.

See you at the top of the slope ;-)

 

Original Article on Huffington post: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tarek-riman/5-life-lessons-from-biking-as-an-entrepreneur_a_23004398/

It’s my 2 into my entrepreneurial adventure and it has been an exciting, but deeply challenging journey.

When you set out on a journey like this, you get called bold, crazy, adventurous, even foolish! Often by the people closest to you.

And that’s before you even start.

Yet, with all the discouragement and difficulty, some of us succeed and go on to live lives infinitely happier than they were before.

So what makes an entrepreneur successful?

Quitting you job is the easy part. Making the first few changes is easy. Fun even! But starting out as an entrepreneur is often a 24/7 job and that gets tough.

Of the many people I know who left their 9-5 job to start their own thing, few lasted longer than a year. Even fewer eventually reached success.

Part of that is due to the market today. Virtually everything is saturated. Strategies for innovation that worked 10 years ago aren’t relevant anymore.

But then, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

So why do we still try? Because it’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s adventurous. It’s leaving behind the drudgery to build our dreams! And ultimately, success is possible.

If you’re thinking of leaving your 9-5, ask yourself if you have what it takes. Here are 5 hard truths about what you will need to succeed:

1. Motivation, Determination and Curiosity

This is the trifecta of entrepreneurial drive. You need all 3 if you’re going to succeed.

If you’re motivated only by money, or have only a curiosity for a new technology, stay in your 9-5.

One of the toughest moments for new entrepreneurs is when the full realization of not having a regular paycheck hits you. And it hits hard. When it does, you will have some tough decisions to make.

Forget the Caribbean vacation. It’ll be a backyard vacation. Or no vacation at all because you run the show at your new venture. You are the show.

You will have to start watching your spending, even for necessities. Budgeting will become a way of life.

There will be times when months pass with no money coming in and plenty going out.

In fact, money now goes out like never before. You have legal fees, financial fees, contractors, service fees, business expenses and more.

If you are looking at entrepreneurialism as a quick get rich plan, look again. It isn’t.

Starting your own company is a multidimensional school; a university of thought and training.

It is an ‘in the trenches’ education on what true responsibility looks like.

To go through these tough months, or even years, you need a lot of motivation. You need to be determined. Your curiosity has to stay fresh and vibrant. You need grit.

Giving up is easy. And there will be times when that easy way out looks really tempting. You won’t have money for physical rewards, so what will keep you going?

If you stick it out, there will come a time when you can look back and see, with clarity, how and why you got through it. Following through won’t make sense at the beginning. But a successful entrepreneur will do it anyway. Maybe there’s something to calling us “crazy” after all ;-)

2. The Will to Learn

What do I mean by this?

You have to look at everything – EVERYTHING – from a learning perspective. That’s how you make it through to the end.

If you look at things from this perspective, you will always see more to an experience than what is happening in the moment. There is more than the hardship or the disappointment. There is no failure. There is only a lesson. And a valuable one.

Imagine dealing with a really tough client. The struggle of working with them is a lot for what you’re being paid. (Spoiler alert: this scenario will come up a lot.) You won’t get through it if you only look at the monetary value of the experience. You have to look at the knowledge and experience you’re gaining as part of the package.

3. Partner & Mentors

This, for me, is the most important thing.

The right mentors and partners are critical. Not only because of the financials, the lessons and wisdom, but for the support. You will need a lot of it.

Having the right advice at the right time is priceless. Sometimes, advice from an ‘expert’ is not the right advice for you. Advice from someone who knows you, your business, your goals, your strengths and weaknesses… that advice is invaluable and goes a long way.

To succeed you need smart, trustworthy people around you, either as mentors, partners or both.

If you are fortunate enough to have a co-located partner to share office space with, even better. When you leave a 9-5 you gain freedom, but often lose discipline. With the right partner, you can keep each other in check.

4. Positive Attitude

Shit happens! Honestly, everyday it’s something else. Having a positive attitude isn’t about sunshine and rainbows. It’s about keeping your head on straight and focusing on solutions, not problems.

Don’t spend your days concentrating on problems, email overload, bottlenecks and troubleshooting. Instead, concentrate on the possibilities. The potential. The solutions and opportunities. Concentrate on the positive at all times. Learn. Get better. Move forward.

Work hard, but celebrate harder.

Don’t let time pass without enjoying it. Remember why you started this crazy journey in the first place.

5. Vision & Discipline

The dream! Your dream! That’s what drives you. That’s what will get you through the hardest times.

But a vision without discipline is just fanciful thinking. Keep your eye always on that beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. But if all you do is look at it, it’ll dim. You have to keep pushing towards it for it to get bigger and brighter.

I was working with a client recently. After months of failed attempts to launch a product line due to operational issues, he looked at me and said, “Is this struggle necessary?” I looked back and said, “What could be more necessary?”

Dreams and visions are so important for an entrepreneur. At one point, your dream will be the only thing that keeps you going. Never take your eye off it.

Takeaway:

Before leaving your day job, consider these hard truths. If you are ready for them, if your heart is still driving you to become an entrepreneur, then be crazy. Do it.

Image Source: Montreal Tips