We all have heard of a serial entrepreneur, but Geoff Zakaib is the epitome of a serial, social philanthropreneur. Geoff started his career as an oil & gas engineer. As his career progressed, his focus pivoted from operational engineering to business management. The early 90s brought about access to ubiquitous data, but the challenge of data quality that exists today was even more prevalent back then, as they had far less tooling to address the issue. Despite the challenge, Geoff saw the enormous promise of data in delivering value to his business consulting clients. He was an early pioneer of online M&A analysis, data visualization, and business analytics (call him the Analytics Godfather, we are talking about the times of dial-ups and floppy-disks).
Ten years ago, after a successful run of his consulting firm, Zakaib Strategies Inc., he decided to look for new challenges. He saw the important work that was being done by NPOs and social organizations, but saw that they lacked the resources, capacity and skills to take advantage of data and emerging digital technology. Recognizing that filling this gap could have huge societal benefits, he contemplated on the best ways to help NPOs generate insights from their data through analytics & visualizations. A key inspiration came from US-based DataKind.org, a program that was connecting volunteer data practitioners to NPOs to help solve social challenges. This ultimately led to his contributing to the formation of Data for Good (DfG) in Canada. With a humble beginning of only two Chapters – Toronto and Calgary, DfG now has 9 chapters across Canada with over 10,000 members.
In 2017, he launched Civic Tech YYC (CTYYC) with a broader purpose to use technology for good and help make Calgary an even better place to live. CTYYC works through projects, such as a volunteer app (Volly), to use data from wearables for civic planning and is even using blockchain technology for social good. In 2021, Geoff began to explore the topic of technology marginalization and was one of the founders of IncluCity Calgary. This is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to tackle digital equality and technology accessibility through inclusive usability testing. We are not using the word serial lightly in describing Geoff, this year he was instrumental in the launch of the Centre for Social Impact Technology with the vision to bring together the ecosystems of social innovation and digital technology innovation.
Geoff dreams of a better world if we all roll up our sleeves and work together. If you want to get involved to make an impact in our community, please check out one of Geoff's organizations to help.