Disability Innovation Institute
Matching Entrepreneurs with Disabilities with Mentors and Investors
The Disability-Owned Business Network (DOBN) mission is to promote creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit! The aim is to provide resources needed to implement innovative ideas that offer products and services for and or by people with disabilities. Creative ideas may include developing gadgets and software, producing art and entertainment, providing remote assistance services, financial management services, and personal assistant services. Resources include access to investors, capital, mentors, advisers, marketers, classes, workshops, forums, blogs, assistive technology. DOBN will encourage that any products and services it helps bring to fruition be made available through the DOBN website and or a Disabled Owned Business Enterprise.
My focus in the Disability Movement has been improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Despite great laws, including the Americans with Disability Act that have significantly improved the lives of people with disabilities, most people with disabilities' economic well-being continues to be dismal. The unemployment rate still hovers around 70%. Many great agencies are working very hard to improve the financial health of this community. What is missing is a concerted effort to provide the resources needed to implement innovative ideas that offer art, products, and services through Disabled Owned Business Enterprises.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Annually the U.S. spends millions of dollars trying to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Much of this goes to persuade employers to hire people with disabilities. Some of this funding goes to preparing this cohort to be part of the workforce. Vocation training includes such things as resume writing and interviewing skills. Little if any funds are available to promote the entrepreneurial spirit many of us do or can have. As with the general population, there are people with disabilities who undoubtedly do better working for themselves. DOBN will create a model that will promote entrepreneurs with disabilities by providing them with the support they need. With a proven model, DOBN will undertake an education campaign informing the greater Disability Community that entrepreneurship is a feasible option.
DOBN will request 5% of any products and services sold through its website. DOBN will ask for a board seat on enterprises that it helps start or fund. A DOBN staff member or adviser will fill this seat. DOBN will also seek a 10% minority interest in any for-profit corporation to help fund or start. Investors will be encouraged to invest directly in enterprises of their choosing. Investors who want to fund anonymously or through charitable giving can do so through the DOBN.
If you or anyone you know wants to get involved in this new and exciting endeavor, please let me know. Please also let me know if you have any questions.
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