Enabled Employment is unique in Australia and possibly the world with its flexible arrangements that enable highly capable people with a disability to find productive and well-paid employment. Enabled Employment makes it easy for employers to fill skill gaps.
In the past year, Enabled Employment has been on the start-up journey, using the resources of the ACT’s innovation ecosystem to best advantage to achieve success.
Enabled Employment is a privately owned venture, and the brain child of Chief Executive Officer Jess May, whose personal story led to establishing the company.
Ms May experienced discrimination after it was revealed to her workplace that she had an anxiety disorder, which had been made worse by a hyperactive thyroid condition. She had wanted to work from home but couldn’t find anything feasible.
Her business concept was to link highly skilled people with disabilities and employers who needed specialist staff who could work flexibly, including working from home.
The lack of an employment service that could connect people with disabilities drove Ms May to contact the Canberra Business Chamber, which provided her with initial advice, and put her in touch with the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre for more intensive assistance. The next step was a grant from the ACT Government’s competitive Innovation Connect program. The funding of $21,000 was for website development and legal advice associated with financial agreements. Subsequently Enabled Employment was accepted into the highly competitive GRIFFIN Accelerator for three months of intensive mentoring and an injection of $25,000 in return for 10 per cent equity in the business. At the completion of the Accelerator Ms May pitched to Angel Networks in Sydney and Canberra, which resulted in an additional investment of $300,000.
Enabled Employment also became a member of the Entry 29 co-working space at the CBR Innovation Network. After a stellar first year, Enabled Employment now has 171 employers on its books and more than 1,400 employees. Its success has been widely recognised. In 2014 Enabled Employment was awarded the Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award for Excellence in Innovation. It was also a finalist in the Canberra Business Point Awards and the ACT winner of the Australian Web Awards in the commercial category. In April 2015 Enabled Employment was a winner of the Optus Your Shark Tank competition, receiving a cash prize and mentoring from Shark Tank judges.
Enabled Employment has partnered with the Soldier On charity to establish the Hand Up program, which assists service personnel to transition to civilian life. The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in April 2015.
Also in April, Enabled Employment received the Startup Hero Award at the 2015 StartupSmart Awards in Melbourne.