Disability used to be a barrier for people who wanted to earn a living. Its socioeconomic effects have been well-documented, and the negative impact on quality of life is indisputable. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 billion people have disabilities worldwide. That’s about 15% of the world’s population
Many of these people have difficulty finding jobs because of the widespread misconception that they are not capable or productive. This is true even though people with disabilities have the same range of skills and abilities as those without. The good thing is they can start their own businesses. And thanks to technology, entrepreneurship is more inclusive and welcoming than ever before.
In the past, many disabled entrepreneurs were limited by their physical disabilities and lack of access to technology. However, today there are several ways that technology can help people with disability start and run their own businesses. Here are ways technology helped revolutionize the way disabled people can do business:
1. Access to capital
Access to capital is one of the most prominent challenges entrepreneurs face, especially those with disabilities. In the past, disabled entrepreneurs had to rely on family and friends for seed money or loans from financial institutions. But now, there are multiple ways to raise capital, thanks to technology.
Online crowdfunding platforms allow people to solicit donations or investments from the public. Anyone with a great business idea can raise money to get their business off the ground, regardless of disability.
Also, the government and private organizations have started to offer grants and loans specifically for entrepreneurs with disability. For instance, the SDVOSB program (Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business) is a government initiative that gives preferential treatment to businesses owned by veterans with disabilities. This makes businesses more accessible to disabled entrepreneurs who served their country. With proper funding, SDVOSB-certified businesses can now advertise their products and services to a larger audience with the help of technology.
2. Improved communication and networking
Another way technology has helped disabled entrepreneurs is by improving communication and networking. In the past, entrepreneurs with disability had difficulty connecting with potential customers or business partners. This was because they often couldn’t attend events or meetings in person.
Various online tools allow people to connect and communicate without meeting in person. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are great for networking. Disabled entrepreneurs can also join online communities and forums related to their industry.
This improved access to networking opportunities and has made it easier for entrepreneurs with disability to connect with potential customers and business partners. It’s also helped them build relationships and develop a support system within the entrepreneurial community.
3. Opened opportunities for home-based businesses
Technology has also opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs with disability to start home-based businesses. In the past, many people with disability were limited to office-based jobs because of physical disabilities. But now, thanks to technological advances, they can work from home using a computer or other devices.
This has benefited entrepreneurs with disability who can’t commute to an office or want a more flexible work schedule. It’s also allowed them to start businesses in previously inaccessible industries, like online retailing.
Opportunities for entrepreneurs with disability have increased significantly due to technology. This has helped many disabled people start and grow successful businesses. Thanks to technology, the field of entrepreneurship is more inclusive and welcoming for all.
4. Access to business resources and information
Before, entrepreneurs with disability often had difficulty accessing business resources and information. This was because most resources were only available in physical forms, like books or magazines. But now, numerous online resources are available to entrepreneurs of all abilities.
For instance, the Small Business Administration‘s website provides a wealth of information on starting and running a small business. Some online courses and programs offer guidance on various aspects of business, from marketing to finance.
This increased access to business resources and information has benefited disabled entrepreneurs. It’s helped them gain the knowledge and skills they need to start and grow successful businesses.
5. Promotes independence
Last but not least, technology has helped entrepreneurs with disability become more independent. In the past, many disabled entrepreneurs had to rely on others for help with daily or business-related tasks. But now, they can use various assistive technologies to perform these tasks independently.
For instance, voice-activated software and hardware can type documents, surf the internet, and perform other tasks. Specialized devices can also help disabled entrepreneurs with mobility impairments to move around independently.
This increased independence has helped entrepreneurs with disability in many ways. It’s given them more control over their businesses and daily lives. It also allowed them to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams without relying on others.
These factors have helped create a level playing field for entrepreneurs with disability. They can now compete with others in the marketplace. And with the proper support, they have the potential to thrive.