Success Story: Animikii Inc.
Animikii Inc. is a 100% Indigenous-owned technology company, based on the traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations (Victoria, BC). Animikii offers web-services, building custom software, web-applications, and websites.
CEO and founder Jeff Ward is Ojibway from Manitoba, and got his start building websites in the late 1990s. He spent time working for high tech start-ups in Silicon Valley at a time when the tech industry was taking off. “It was a lucky time to get into tech,” says Ward. By 2003 he returned to Canada with a new focus – instead of working in an environment that was largely capitalistic he would work on something more meaningful for himself and his greater Indigenous community, so he founded Animikii Inc.
First and foremost, Animikii is a technology company. Our company was created to use technology to foster Reconciliation in Canada; to act as a means of supporting Indigenous Canadians, and as a means of creating partnerships between Indigenous Canadians and non-Indigenous Canadians. Our company sees technology as an opportunity – a chance to create new things, learn new skills and constantly innovate. We believe that technology, like entrepreneurship, is a societal equalizer. – From the Animikii Website (Source: http://www.animikii.com/giving-back )
Jeff and his team have worked with 16 Non-Profits, 8 Indigenous Communities, 5 Indigenous Businesses, 4 Health Organizations and 3 Educational Institutions in the last year alone.
Building positive, trusting, and respectful relationships with the Indigenous communities and organizations he serves is hugely important for Jeff. The values of Animikii reflect the values of his Ojibway ancestry and upbringing. Reciprocity and sharing are values he learned from his family growing up in Manitoba. That is why Animikii provides financial donations, in-kind donations, and pro-bono services for initiatives that support Indigenous Peoples and communities. Animikii also has a student bursary program for Indigenous youth studying entrepreneurship or technology. The values of Animikii also shape its corporate governance. Animikii is a social enterprise that is B Corp Certified and a Certified Aboriginal Business. In 2010, the British Columbia Achievement Foundation awarded Animikii as ‘Aboriginal Business of the Year’, recognizing Animikii both on its success as an Indigenous business and its commitment to the Indigenous community.
In 2015, both Jeff and Animikii entered a period of growth and renewal. Jeff decided that Animikii needed to be bigger than himself, seeing the opportunity in and potential of technology for fostering reconciliation and improving First Nations economic and social well-being. “Animikii is a vehicle to inspire others,” he says. From his new office space on the Songhees reserve, Jeff is looking for investors and partners to join him in bringing Animikii to the next level, “which is this vision of Indigenous technologists working on impactful things from coast to coast to coast.”
Jeff sees opportunity in technology to increase employment for Indigenous youth and build relationships between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities. “Technology facilitates communication, and you cannot have reconciliation without communication,” said Jeff. In addition to fostering reconciliation, Animikii wants to inspire Indigenous youth to use technology to empower themselves and their communities. “I believe technology is a tool that will be a major driver of economic and social impact, especially in the next 5 to 10 years in our communities,” Jeff explains. Technology can not only connect First Nations communities but it also allows First Nations to work remotely. “Also in the next 5 to 10 years, we’re going to see solo, freelance entrepreneurs starting technology businesses from their communities, and we want to be there to support them.”
To learn more about Animikii, you can visit: http://www.animikii.com.