A Canberra-based startup is looking to tackle Australia’s low disability employment rate by making it easier for businesses to employ people living with a disability.
Enabled Employment is an online marketplace that matches employers with employees that can work remotely. Founder and chief executive Jessica May told StartupSmart the website is a classic example of an entrepreneur starting their own business to solve a problem they encountered first-hand.
“I have a disability myself and I have anxiety and after the birth of my daughter it got very, very bad,” she says.
“I thought there’s got to be something out there where I can work from home. It really sort of grew legs from there and ran and I tried to keep up with it.”
May says Australia is performing “dismally” when it comes to employing people with disabilities. On top of that, she says there are many Australians living with a disability who could help reduce the overall unemployment rate but they are often overlooked by employers.
The startup took part in Canberra’s Griffin Accelerator Program in July this year, which saw May paired up with experienced mentors who helped her turn her business from an idea into a reality.
“They’ve just been amazingly helpful by giving me contacts and then giving workshops where they take us through all the different points of pitching and getting your brand out there,” she says. “I knew how to build the website but I didn’t know how to get out there and get people signed up.”
May says the program gave her the confidence to “shake-up” a sector dominated by not-for-profits and showed her how much of a vibrant startup community Canberra is home to.
“I had blinkers on and thought it was all just public service,” she says. “Canberra is a really good place to set up a business because you have all the businesses here you need to contact as well as Parliament.”
May will start pitching for round A investments at the end of this month. If successful, she hopes to branch out with separate websites for indigenous Australians, those living in rural and remote areas and returned servicemen and women.
“We’ll also be looking to take the model overseas,” she says.