What does your social enterprise do?
Disability Positive Consulting promotes disability as an asset in life, education and business. My most rewarding experience to date was working for a year on a volunteer consulting engagement as a disability positive coach at a local school. I worked with students with disabilities on issues of identity and self-advocacy, and in doing so, saw a profound shift in the way they talked about their disability and their self confidence. Helping students embrace their disability has been among my biggest successes thus far.
Why are you passionate about this cause?
Growing up, I knew my disability made me different. There were always frustrations (e.g. attitudes, inaccessible spaces) but there were also assets to my difference and the way my disability made me see the world. I am passionate about helping others and about changing the conversation around disability and diversity.
What was your biggest challenge in starting your social enterprise?
The biggest challenge has been the search for a sustainable income. Being an entrepreneur, while incredibly rewarding in so many ways, has meant my finances are scattered and somewhat unpredictable. I remain entirely committed to my passion and the journey that accompanies it, but the challenge of supporting my family and myself has remained ever-present.
How has the School for Social Entrepreneurs supported you?
The decision to apply to the SSE was one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only for my business but for myself as a person. It truly was an incredibly valuable and worthwhile experience on so many levels. Everything from the practical knowledge of business models and funding options, to the assistance with crafting a pitch has moved my business forward. Even beyond those, however, were the friendships and connections that I forged as part of the programme. To share that time with other amazing social entrepreneurs, with others who understood my struggles and celebrated my victories was more rewarding than I could have hoped.
What are your plans for the future?
My ultimate goal for Disability Positive Consulting is to be a launch point for a social movement to change the way disability is perceived in society. Eventually, my goal is to get the company to a level where I could train other Disability Positive ambassadors to share the message to more schools and organizations.
What would your advice be to a budding social entrepreneur?
Being a social entrepreneur is the ultimate, most exhilarating ride for anyone with a passion for change. There are ups and downs; there is uncertainty and opportunity around every corner. The only way you can survive is to enjoy the ride. Celebrate the great stuff and don’t get bogged down in the challenges. Surround yourself with support and ask for help when you need it. Above all, stay positive.