From education to employment

Disabled People Turning to Entrepreneurship

The traditional workplace can present a number of barriers for people with disabilities, particularly in regard to travel requirements, rigid schedules, and lack of accommodations or understanding of individual needs.

Data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that about half of disabled working aged people in the UK are in employment compared with about 80 percent of those without a disability.

Conversely, when it comes to self-employment a higher proportion of disabled people are represented (13.8%) than non-disabled people (12.5%).

UK entrepreneurship charity Hatch Enterprise is supporting people with disabilities to discover their entrepreneurial potential and launch their own businesses.

One disabled founder to benefit from the support of the charity is Martha Bennett.

Martha completed an Accelerator programme with Hatch to develop her business Ludo Tutors, a service providing bespoke tuition for children and their families around the world.

She is neurodiverse and also has endometriosis, a hidden disability which causes a lot of pain and chronic fatigue, among other symptoms.

“Entrepreneurship lends itself really well to people with disabilities because it just offers you that degree of flexibility. It means that you can pick your working environment, and it also means that you can have some flexibility when it comes to scheduling as well,” she explains.

“With my chronic fatigue for example, I just can’t work a nine to five, but I can get that work done super quickly in three or four hours when I’m up to it during the day.

“I once face planted off a train at London Bridge Station on my way to a client because I fainted from the pain. Endometriosis can be really, really extreme, but even if it’s not, those kind of symptoms can grind you down day to day.

“Being an entrepreneur helps with that, it also means that if you need to take time off for appointments or medication, or if you’re having a particularly bad flare up of something like endometriosis, it means that you can give that time to yourself.”

Martha believes that living with a disability has meant that she has had to develop an abundance of resilience, persistence, and empathy, all vital skills for an entrepreneur.

Hatch’s mission is to level the playing field of entrepreneurship and ensure that access to support is available to traditionally underrepresented groups, including disabled people.

Thanks to a partnership with disabled lifestyle brand Parallel, Hatch has been able to offer bursaries to disabled founders accessing its programmes, ensuring that they can access the opportunities needed to invest in themselves and their business ideas.

In the last year 16% of the participants on Hatch’s programmes said that they were living with a disability, and the charity hopes that through hearing stories like Martha’s, more disabled people will be inspired to launch their own businesses.

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