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Connect is a platform which helps African immigrants build relationships in their new location. It connects you with individuals within close proximity based on some set of criterias. Users are able to meet new people, have conversations and perform in-person activities.


Product Experience

Problem Statement  

How can we address loneliness within African communities in Canada to facilitate meaningful connections and a sense of belonging?

Problem Background  

Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk for premature death by 26% and 29% respectively. A 2022 study found that when people were asked how close they felt to others emotionally, only 39% of adults in the U.S. said that they felt very connected to others. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that is associated with obesity and physical inactivity.

Today, immigration from Africa to western countries is increasing drastically. With the high  amount of immigration today, there is a growing need for people to find and connect with like-minded individuals in their new locations. 

In my recent survey within African immigrant society of ages 18 - 40 living in Canada, 76% of participants acknowledged they experience loneliness and challenges with building and sustaining social relationships. The majority of those challenges are in areas such as values differences, trust, shallow initial conversation, physical proximity, social anxiety, and following up after initial conversation. Most participants expressed difficulty in allocating the time and resources to maintain relationships due to the fast-paced student or working professional life in Canada.

The problem now is that there is no platform that offers African immigrants the ability to connect with each other and build authentic connections. These immigrants experience a huge culture shock upon arriving and settling in Canada. Over 50% of participants noted that communication was a key concern when trying to establish new relationships. The lack of authentic connection leads to social, mental and physical frustration amongst these individuals. As humans, the desire to be seen, heard, and understood without judgment is part of our DNA and we would continuously take steps that get us closer to that goal.

Research Insights

To validate if users were actually experiencing loneliness, I surveyed 27 individuals living in Canada and discovered the following:  

  1. 76% of Canadian immigrants agree that social relationship is very important
  2. 42% of participants felt lonely within their 1st 2 years of moving to Canada while 34.6% still feel lonely after spending 2 years in Canada
  3. However, today participants establish new relationships through a mix of online and offline mediums:
  1. 23% % prefer online due to lack of confidence initiating a conversation and it is easier to interact based on mutual interest (social media posts) and form a connection before meeting offline
  2. 27% prefer offline because they get to connect with others based on mutual interest (school, work or recreational activity) and also mutual friends
  3. 50% prefer both online and offline 
  4. Majority of participants prefer in-person connection with people with shared interests; 92.3% find it to be more fulfilling to establish new connections in person than online. They prefer in-person connection because it builds trust, creates shared experiences, feels organic and foster commitment in maintaining the new relationship
  5. When participants reach out to initiate friendship connection, most of the time the other person is willing to connect. This further illustrate that people want to connect
  6. 76.9% of participants experience challenges with building and sustaining social relationships; majority of those challenges are in areas such as values differences, trust, shallow initial conversation, physical proximity, social anxiety, and following up after initial conversation (time and effort related)
  7. 85% of participants find social or educational environments most conducive for form long-lasting social relationships because they are all peers and pressure is minimal
  8. The most meaningful connections amongst participants were due to mutual friends, mutual interests, similar race and shared experiences. Majority of the participants are mostly drawn to people based on these and attach great importance to these attributes when initiating new relationships.

Landing on the Solution

Based on the user research conducted, we identified two pain points. Finding the right people and building shared experiences. These are the jobs-to-be-done and the solution aims to address them directly. 

The solution identifies and suggests similar people to connect with each other. After users connect and have conversations in the App, users can plan activities and hangout in-person. Users are able to maintain their relationships by communicating and planning events through the app. 

Future Steps

I will continue researching and building on this product as a side project while I continue my career in the PM space.


Product Manager Learnings:

Ifeanyi Eze-Onuorah

> Through this Co.Lab program, I have been able to deepen my understanding on Product management fundamentals 

> I learnt the importance of spending time in the problem space to really understand customers pain points before building a solution

> I learnt that it’s okay not to have everything figured out from Day 1, building a product is an iterative process with incremental steps along the way

Designer Learnings:

Developer Learnings:

Developers Learnings:


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