ANTIGONISH: Rinaujan Kananesan, founder of Renewly Initiatives Inc., says he wouldn’t be where he is today without networking, and meeting the people he has so far along his journey.
Speaking at the second annual Connect @ X event last Thursday at StFX University, the Toronto native, whose parents moved from Sri Lanka in 1989, provided anecdotes of his experience with networking and making connections ever since moving to Truro.
“My family played a big role for me being in Nova Scotia today, growing up we went on four road trips to the East Coast, one each to Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia,” the 24-year-old said. “What I noticed was the people; Nova Scotia in particular, had amazing people who were community orientated.”
Kelsey Bowman, marketing, communications, and events coordinator for the StFX Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre, said the networking event provides an opportunity for employers to connect with StFX students.
“Connect @ X is an event to bridge the gap between employers and students,” Bowman said. “It’s also a chance for students to learn about various industries from employers around the room.”
She said the event was created in 2018 after identifying a need for students to have more networking opportunities on campus.
Major sponsors for the event included; Micro Boutique Living, JD Irving, Ignite Labs Inc., Dalhousie Corporate Residency MBA, Nova Scotia Health Authority, MacDonald & Murphy Inc., Truro & Colchester Partnership and the ultimate X-Ring sponsor was the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (DLAE).
The evening featured dinner, an insight into Kananesan’s rise to entrepreneurial liberty, followed by three rounds of speed networking, where students interacted with attending employers, the DLAE’s Margaret Schwartz awarded $1,000 towards the price of an X-Ring to Matthew Watt, the night finished with attendees participating in an increased relaxed networking opportunity.
Michael MacInnis, the manager of Royal Bank branches in Antigonish and Guysborough, who has attended both Connect @ X events, indicated the networking event is such an excellent tool for local recruiting – even if the candidate ends up elsewhere in the company.
“Coming to events like these pay off,” he said. “Currently we have five StFX students working for us part-time.”
Growing up in Toronto, Kananesan would go out of his way to visit with different organizations or attend different events around the city, but felt as if the people were so busy with their lives that when you try to explain a vision or concept, their response isn’t favourable.
“There is not much enthusiasm,” he said. “People didn’t quite understand what I wanted to do.”
Kananesan moved to Truro in December 2018, and invested in a three-unit property with his business partner, renovated it, and has since rented it out.
“I didn’t want the community of Truro, to think this guy came from Toronto with a business-oriented mind and all he wants to do is to make money,” he said. “I really wanted the community to know who I was as a person.”
Since moving to Truro, Kananesan has continued to stay heavily involved in climate change initiatives, even spearheading this year’s climate change rally inspired by Greta Thunberg. Being involved with the community for just over a year, he’s made so many connections which are now leading to grow his business.
Connections like Matthew Berrigen, program manager of the North Nova Scotia Connector Program and Sebastian Green, northern regional manager with Ignite Labs Inc.
“We educate home-owners and property-owners about the solar industry,” he said about Renewly Initiatives Inc. “Because there are a lot of misconceptions around the solar industry, and a lot of home-owners are confused about the programs offered – what we do is educate them and then connect them through global installers.”
The why in general for Kananesan is he sees a lot of problems in the world, when growing up you see these things on television, and he said you wish you could do something about it, when the reality is you can.
If he’s going to change a big problem in the world like climate change, Kananesan started to thinking in reverse – maybe he could start with making a big impact on a small community first.
“Imagine making Truro, the hub of Nova Scotia, 100 per cent renewable energy, start off there and go global,” he said. “Little things can change the world. Be a part of the small community, help as much as I can and then take that to the next level across the world.”