Entrepreneur program supports disability employment and enterprise.
30 November 2020
Rapid Enterprise Development (or RED for short) is an organisation dedicated to supporting people living with a disability to gain independence through creating their own business.
RED operates according to the social model of disability, which asks us to recognise how our current society has many barriers in place which make it difficult for people living with a disability to participate fully.
Such barriers can be:
• physical – non-accessible entrances to public buildings
• attitudinal - limited ideas as to what people living with a disability can and can’t do
• communication – low percentage of sign-language speakers among general population
• social – fewer opportunities for people to participate in joint activities with peers
By recognising these barriers in our environment, we can work towards removing them, allowing people living with a disability to have the same opportunities as others.
RED specifically aims to help remove these barriers by developing a culture of enterprise within the disability community. Generating more opportunities for people living with a disability to become self-sufficient, potentially employing others and building community.
“By generating viable concepts for business enterprises, RED provides individuals with a real economic alternative to traditional day activities,” says RED Co-Director, Arthur Mitsioulis.
RED began in the UK through the work of Keith Bates and Dr Guy Turnbull.
Originally working in supported employment, Keith began exploring the idea of establishing working co-ops as an alternative means of employment for people living with a disability. A concept complemented by Guy’s background in creating inclusive job opportunities by establishing businesses in which people of many differing abilities could work.
Together, they combined their skillsets to work towards the goal of not just simply creating jobs for people living with a disability but helping them explore entrepreneurship and becoming independent business owners. Including, assisting them in the development of micro-enterprises.
The RED Academy
RED currently offers a range of courses for people at every stage of their professional development. The RED Academy, focuses on working with students to brainstorm a concept and develop a business model, then mentoring them through to start-up with a fully realised product or service.
They also provide on-going support through services such as The RED Store, an online shopping platform dedicated to selling and promoting the products and services developed by people with a lived experience of disability and RED participants.
RED’s workshops and mentorship programs are fully adapted to each individual’s needs, with both group and one-on-one sessions available.
Beyond enterprise development, additional workshops in marketing, website creation, back-office support services and online retail are also available to further support students in their endeavours.
Depending on the client’s needs, family and support workers are encouraged to attend the workshops to provide any support and assistance the student may require.
Alongside these primary workshops, the RED Academy also runs workshops specifically for parents and caregivers, providing additional knowledge and support where necessary, ensuring the long-term, self-sustainability of the student’s business.
According to Co-Director Arthur Mitsioulis, the businesses developed by RED participants provide general consumer products, arts, services through to advocacy and/or public speaking opportunities.
Adaptable and accessible
Given the wide range of potential businesses and broad needs of their students, there are no set timeframes for courses and no intake dates. All courses and workshops are adapted to the students’ needs and desires.
“One of our recent participants is highly creative and was interested in creating her own fashion line,” says RED Communications Manager, Coco Karriem.
“She had no experience in fashion or sewing, however, she was quite a talented artist. So, the team worked with her to investigate options for turning her art into t-shirt designs.”
“She joined the program in January (2020) and her first batch of t-shirts began printing in September!”
RED is fully NDIS funded, so there are no costs, only your time.
Applications are open at all times, with no set in-take dates or semesters.
“The numbers we can accept are only limited by the number of people who present to us,” says Arthur.
To find out more about Rapid Enterprise Development and to explore their range of workshops visit:
Support their current participants by viewing or purchasing their products on The RED Store: https://redstore.com.au