When CSI first joined the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN), we knew it was going to unlock opportunities for an underserved group of women: women who traditionally faced barriers to access to entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business support, and women who have solutions that put people and the planet first.
This week, we are thrilled to announce the publication of a report detailing exactly how WOSEN fosters the growth of women-led social enterprise. To celebrate the report, we are also sharing a series of stories on our program participants in collaboration with our WOSEN network partners: Pillar Nonprofit Network, SVX, and NORDIK Institute‘s Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
Meet Charlene Nadalin.
Written by: Georgia Bullbrook
Charlene Nadalin has been chatting her way into the business world since she was only thirteen years old. Heavily influenced by her parents, and their home construction business, Charlene got to know the ins and outs of the business – and finessed her communication skills with prospective clients – all before even entering high school.
Charlene has had extremely unique and diverse experiences in many different fields. Her father was an entrepreneur of a variety of different businesses and industries, teaching her from a very young age that absolutely anything was possible. Charlene studied Spanish, Italian, and French at York University and went on to complete the International Business Administration diploma at Seneca college. After her extensive post-secondary education, Charlene immediately tested her knowledge and flew to Hawaii to set up her father’s restaurant venture from the ground up. Using her marketing, strategic planning, and administrative skills, she began her professional journey as an expert leader and communicator.
From there, Charlene advanced her career in sales and marketing, using her unique language skills at a bilingual magazine startup back in Ontario. The course of her career ran without intention and she fell into the right job at a media company, running with her intuitive ability to connect and converse with anyone. She continued to build her career there for the next thirteen years.
In 2013, Charlene was ready to switch gears and begin a business of her own, allowing her to work from anywhere in the world with the intention of spending more time with her family. Simultaneous with this nascent venture, she was in a state of concern over her widowed mother. Over time, Charlene noticed her mother’s diminished social circle translated into a lack of optimism and a loss of identity. She knew she had to help her mom, and she also knew that there had to be other people in similar life positions: retired, run-down, lonely, and unmotivated. This is how Charlene got the idea to start Amintro.
Amintro is both an online social platform, and an information hub for those who are 50 years or older. It is not a dating app! It’s a web-based platform and companion app, built on the foundation of eradicating the isolation and loneliness of older adults through friendship. The app is completely free and allows you to connect with potential friends within a 100km radius. The main intention is for people to eventually connect offline and participate in a mutual interest or activity. Amintro also hosts free online events for members to meet each other (virtually) face-to-face.
From 2013 on, Charlene spent time researching, building the brand, expanding her network, and developing a platform. Amintro went to market in 2018 and was ready to tackle issues facing older adults who have been isolated and need a bridge to help them make meaningful connections. Amintro doesn’t only connect people based on their mutual interests in an effort to spark meaningful relationships; they also focus on knowledge as a means of reducing social isolation. It isn’t just about connecting people with people. Amintro goes one step further.
Amintro partners with select businesses that want to be part of the solution. Together, they create editorial content that serves the needs of Amintronians. This can be anything from financial advice, retirement tips, help on setting up a will, or anything that caters to the 50+ community. This is a win-win. Businesses get to communicate directly to their target audience while feeling like they are engaging and providing support to this
community. At the same time, the Amintro audience is getting tailored content that will actually benefit several different aspects of their lives. These collaborative pieces account for Amintro’s main revenue model and they are available for free on the platform, as well as on a separate branch of their website called Get Social Magazine.
Get Social Magazine ensures that even if people aren’t subscribed to the membership side of Amintro, they still have access to the resources and support that perhaps they didn’t even know they needed. Get Social also provides an opportunity for adult children or grandchildren to access this information if they are concerned about their loved one and seeking reliable information.
Amintro isn’t just trying to fill a warm spot. They are thinking in the long-term, to guide their users into maintaining their independence and renewing their sense of purpose. Through connection and information, Charlene wants to emphasize that knowledge truly is power. Amintro doesn’t look to just give their users a fish, they are going the distance to teach their users how to fish.
Charlene’s ability to connect and communicate with people from such an early age has stayed with her throughout her entire life. Amintro is an extension of her outstanding ability to relate with anyone, no matter their age, culture, or language. She has spent a lifetime perfecting these skills and she uses Amintro as a bridge to pass them on to others.
As a member of the WOSEN network, Charlene has been able to connect with a handful of business coaches and entrepreneurs who understand the labor of running your own business. Charlene is constantly giving out her support to hundreds through Amintro and she recognizes the need for support no matter what position someone is in. WOSEN offers that support right back with their network of collaborative business
owners who encourage and guide one another.
During the recent pandemic, social isolation has become a severe problem across the globe. Even for those under 50 years of age, it is more difficult than ever to remain connected to friends and family, let alone trying to connect with someone new. The senior population, being the most at risk, are now having to stay home and are likely unable to spend time with anyone. Charlene recognizes the extremely precarious position we’re all in, “Everybody is feeling the pain of social isolation and everybody is devastated by it,” she says, “And now they’re scrambling to get help. Amintro is just a great way to get to know the people around you. And when it comes to retirement residences, and adult living communities, it’s that much cooler, because you actually have this tool to get to know your neighbours that are living a few doors down that you might not actually go and introduce yourself to. It’s a really cool tool for retirement communities, to share with their residents, as a way
of getting to know your neighbours inside and also outside the residence.”
Amintro is a solution to a problem that existed before the pandemic, was escalated during it, and will continue after it. Charlene took what she did best and gave the gift of communication to those who needed it the most. Amintro saw an increase in traffic of roughly 500% on their website during the pandemic. At a time when the world is evidently craving connection, Charlene’s innovative and simple solution is improving the livelihood of hundreds. Check out Amintro and Get Social Magazine on their website and see the difference they are making.