AIP Helps Start-up Founder Put Down Local Roots

Posted: July 27, 2021
This story is part of a six-part series highlighting how the AIP program has helped businesses and talent succeed in Halifax.


The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) has not only assisted companies in finding talent. It’s also helped the founder of a local start-up build a business and life in Halifax.

That’s what happened with vLife, a Halifax company that has developed an online platform that connects local independent business with communities and customers.

Halifax native Melanie Little and business partner Riaz Khan - a UK citizen - had just launched the “buy local” vLife platform in 2019.

At the time, they were also faced with the fact Khan’s work permit would soon expire.

Khan wanted to stay in Halifax and continue working on the start-up after living and working in innovation and digital transformation in London, Europe and the Middle East.

So, the business partners turned to the Halifax Partnership for help.

“It wasn’t until we connected with AIP through the Halifax Partnership that we realized there was an expedited process to help Riaz stay here. It was a perfect fit for our business.”

- Melanie Little, President & CEO vLife

The AIP designation process was straight forward, which is important for busy start-up entrepreneurs who already have too many things on their to-do list.

Once vLife became recognized as an AIP designated employer, they were able to submit an AIP endorsement to the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration and Population Growth which would support Khan’s application for permanent residency.

“His PR (permanent residency) is now being processed as we speak,” said Little.

Once endorsed by AIP, candidates like Khan are authorized to remain in the country working while they await the finalization of their permanent residency.

“That was a huge benefit to Riaz personally and professionally, and it was a benefit to our company too.”

It also supported the many small businesses in Halifax that were joining vLife and finding new customers online through the platform.

Little and Khan recognized that technology could be used to boost the profile of small businesses who don’t necessarily have the budget or staff to maximize their online profile or to purchase advertising.

Little had a background in education. Khan’s experience is with digital technology. Together they were able to develop and launch vLife which is supporting the success of local businesses and the economy.

“It’s a snowball effect” says Little, “When we buy local, we are giving back to our community in ways we don’t even realize.”

Learn more about vLife

vLife's unique online platform enables locals to connect with small, independent businesses in their community. Get connected to small businesses and discover something new today.

The vLife platform also showcases the local flavour of the community. For visitors and newcomers who are looking for the authentic Halifax, Little says vLife allows them to “live like a local.”

The company now features businesses from across Atlantic Canada and is presently looking at expanding the buy local platform to other communities in Canada and internationally.

“We want to go to as many parts of the world as we can and set up vLife storefronts,” she said, pointing out that local communities and markets exist everywhere.

As the company expands locally and globally, Little intends to recruit local and international talent that can help the business grow.

“We need to invite more people here to contribute and diversify our culture and help our economy grow,” she said. “I just love being a part of the growing local economy, and I feel fortunate to have access to AIP – making it that much easier for our company to continue to contribute to that growth.”

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is supported by the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada.

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