A team of recent graduates from the University of Waterloo in Canada have created a company with the power to create a positive impact on the lives of refugees and other newcomers settling in new countries around the world. After travelling to Europe for an exchange trip and witnessing the refugee crisis first hand, Co-Founder Jade Choy was driven to create an initiative which would help alleviate this quickly growing issue around the world. Jade has partnered up with her brother and her friend (both recent graduates) to launch the initiative. The team is also backed by a talented group of engineers and designers who are working to bring the idea to life.
Epoch is defined as the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of someone or something. This definition provides great insight into the type of work that the team at EPOCH is trying to achieve. EPOCH is a social platform that enables users to trade each others’ skills for services, where users are rewarded time credits for each hour of time they offer their services to someone else.
If User 1 had skills in painting furniture, they could offer their services to User 2 and receive credits for the work. The next week, User 1 might be struggling with moving their television, a service User 3 has offered to help with. User 1 can use their credits to buy User 3’s time in exchange for their help. User 3 could now use their credits to purchase either User 1 or User 2’s time for work they offer. While this example only covers a universe with three users, we could expand the concept of this example within a community and quickly realize the countless possibilities for exchanged work among users.
The great benefit of the EPOCH platform is that it operates on a credit system where users do not have to directly exchange services, but can rather exchange credits with any user in the community. Additionally, the credit system does not run on money, but rather runs on time. Refugees and newcomers that might not be able to afford paid services are able to provide their own services in exchange for credits.
Beyond allowing users to provide and receive services for work they otherwise might not have had access to, the EPOCH platform provides a significant benefit to the community. As users use the service more and more, they will begin to develop a network within their communities within which they will feel more involved. For newcomers in a country, this can be very helpful when trying to integrate into a society and learn more about the language and customs. As our society continues to become more and more dependent on technology and digital communication, Epoch provides a unique way to continue to preserve community relationships moving forward.
The EPOCH team has worked hard to promote its company by attending competitions with the hopes of developing their ideas and achieving funding goals. Recently, the team had success at the University of Waterloo Velocity Fund Finals, winning a $25,000 Prize. Earlier in the year, the team also competed in the Hult Prize Regional Finals in England where they achieved first place and were invited to participate in the Hult Prize Accelerator at Hult International Business School’s Boston campus.
After having worked with an entrepreneurship organization, a startup, for multinational accounting firms, and as a management consultant all while trying to complete her degree in Accounting and Finance, it is safe to say that Jade is a very talented and experienced individual. Coming from a background where both her parents and grandparents had to face the challenges of immigration, Jade is in a unique situation where she can learn from those hardships and apply them when continuing to enhance EPOCH's platform offering.
Brother of Co-Founder Jade Choy, Keith has a wealth of knowledge in Accounting and Financial Management thanks to his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the fields. Beyond his schooling, he has participated in a number of internships as an accountant, a business analyst and a Strategy and Operations intern at PWC and Mary Kay. Keith’s experience put him in a unique position to better understand the financial situation of new immigrants and analyze how best to help them overcome their financial struggles.
Friend of siblings Jade and Keith, Lisa offers a unique perspective given her background in education is quite different from her co-founders’. Lisa finished Bachelor of Science at the University of Waterloo and participated in a number of leadership roles throughout her schooling, which eventually lead her to landing an internship as a Marketing Analyst at Facebook. The combination of her unique degree and her experience working with the greatest social network of our time will allow her to provide a diverse perspective on operations and provide powerful insights on how to continue to grow the platform’s communities.
To learn more about this amazing initiative and their anticipated launch, we encourage you to visit their website. We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about the future of this organization and how it can solve the growing challenge of integrating refugees and newcomers in countries around the world.
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