Skip to main content

Shamira Jaffer has Built Signifi Solutions Through Perseverance, Trailblazing Innovation and Cultural Diversity

By Diane Amato

Published February 20, 2024 • 5 Min Read

Shamira Jaffer has a relentless passion for innovation. She loves empowering people, creating efficiency and solving complex problems. She attributes her company’s success to her perseverance, determination and a culture of diversity that brings to life different ideas and perspectives.

RBC has a long history of celebrating the progress of women and investing in those who create change. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we celebrate women like Shamira Jaffer – an inventor, problem-solver and advocate for diversity who has become a global leader in automation. RBC is proud to be her financial partner as she drives progress, creates meaningful solutions and makes a lasting impact.

A commitment to innovation

When Shamira Jaffer was recognized as a 2023 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Innovation winner, she says it was the highlight of her year. “It was amazing to win that award, especially for innovation. It’s quite an honour,” says the CEO of Signifi Solutions. For more than three decades, the Awards have recognized and celebrated the strides of Canada’s most accomplished, influential and impactful women. 

An inventor at heart, Jaffer has always been a problem solver. Entrepreneurship was a natural fit for her, as she reveals she knew she couldn’t work for someone else. “I am constantly solving problems. I felt that wherever I tried to work, things never progressed quickly enough.” Her path to where she is today really began when, approximately 20 years ago, she encountered an early edition touch screen machine where she could renew her license plate. She envisioned a future where software could empower people to do more and do things faster. “I am impatient, I don’t like lineups. My goal was to design solutions that provide people with an effortless and inspiring experience, ultimately giving them more control over their time. I saw the touchscreen as a key component in achieving this.”

The products Signifi develops today are based on the touchscreen concept and have evolved to deliver end-to-end solutions in I.T. asset management, loss prevention and automated retail.  

How cultural diversity drives innovation

Jaffer is a passionate advocate for workplace diversity and believes it plays an integral role in innovation. “When you’re building something new, having people with different perspectives is crucial. And as a business owner, understanding how to make something meaningful to different types of people is also important. Having the ability to understand cultural nuances is magical.”

She shares that her workplace is made up of people from countries across the globe – France, Brazil, Korea, India, China, Russia and Ukraine, just to name a few. “It has created a very interesting culture – and we have amazing food at our monthly potlucks.”

Jaffer also explains that she is thrilled to have talented female engineers with her company. “I wouldn’t have seen that five years ago,” she says. She adds that she sees women in technology becoming more daring. “I feel there is a shift happening where the courage and confidence among women leaders and engineers is growing.”

A long journey to success

While Signifi Solutions is well-positioned as a global leader today, success did not come easy. Jaffer was in business nearly ten years before the North American market would catch up to her ideas. All the while, Jaffer was bootstrapping her business, which she shares was really difficult, particularly in the early days.

“Bootstrapping is really hard. You need a massive amount of perseverance to be an entrepreneur. You almost need to have blind faith in your ideas and believe there is somebody out there that is going to see what you see. You don’t have the luxury of self-doubt. You just have to make it happen.”

She also shares that to persevere through the more challenging phases of building a business, it’s essential to be able to sell your vision to your staff. “There are people who stood by me. I have no idea why, they could have been earning much more money and having a far better life, but they stuck by me. Being able to sell your vision and getting people to follow is so important – otherwise, you are a lone ranger.”

RBC was among those who saw the potential in Jaffer’s ideas. Before partnering with RBC, Jaffer had a small line of credit with another financial institution and couldn’t get the limit raised. “When the company started growing, we were really suffocated. To make payroll, to grow, you need money. When we met with someone from RBC, it was a real turning point for us.” Jaffer explains that RBC significantly increased their line of credit, giving Signifi the breathing room they needed to grow. “Almost instantly, we could make good decisions. When you don’t have money, you’re forced to make decisions because you don’t have a choice. RBC came into the office to spend time with us and take the time to really understand the business – they are not a typical bank. They are an amazing partner.”

As she has been designing and inventing ground-breaking inventions, Jaffer has been learning these valuable lessons in entrepreneurship. “As Signifi has grown, I’ve learned how to adjust. Instead of being six years ahead of where the market might be going, I realized I needed to be three years early,” she says, recognizing that she will always be ahead of her time.

Discover more inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs making a difference to our economy, communities, and planet.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

Share This Article


Community Entrepreneur Women led Businesses