Startup Stories: Enabled Employment

Enabled Employment. Real Work. Real Jobs. Real People

Enabled Employment: Telework for people with disabilit

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Enabled Employment is a privately owned venture, and the brain child of Chief Executive Officer Jess May.

This approach is new because it empowers people with disability by providing a website where they can source and undertake work without leaving their home, and without needing assistance from a not-for-profit employment provider.

We offer people with disability the option to work from their own home, for above award wages and using their considerable qualifications and skills.

Enabled Employment’s site is a free market for employers to post jobs – which our employees undertake, for a real wage, superannuation, flexible hours and home based work.

The company differs from most disability employment services by providing a self-serve one-stop-shop for people with disability to browse and obtain work, and by encouraging employers to use the untapped talent of those people currently living with disability who are unable to find work due to access or equity issues.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
The idea for the company came from CEO Jessica May’s own experience as a worker with a disability.

In 2011, Jess suffered with anxiety after the birth of her first child, and was diagnosed with panic disorder. She wanted to return to her full-time job, but was terrified of going into the workplace.

Jess knew that working would help her anxiety, but despite being highly commended and a skilled worker, she could not find work which she could do from home.

Realising there was no opportunities for her to work from home, she started thinking about others with disabilities, of all kinds. Like many other people with disability who are well qualified, she volunteered to stay busy, but kept thinking about how she could make a difference, and provide the sort of paid work she was looking for to others in similar situations.

Through her research into the disability employment sector, Jess came upon the ACT Government’s Innovation Council Connect Grant, and was able to use it to develop the Enabled Employment website –

The company has been accepted into the Griffin Accelerator Program, and the website went live in April 2014. Jess now teleworks from home and 1 Moore St, Canberra, and is able to manage her condition through the flexible working conditions that telework provides.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Australia’s disability employment participation rates are some of the lowest in the OECD, and we intend to change that.

It is time people with disabilities have some self determination in their work choices, and are able to use the skills they’ve obtained in their academic or professional lives.

It also provides an opportunity for employers to source skills at a time of significant skills shortages in Australia’s employment market.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
“When people hear the word disabilities, they tend to think of intellectual disabilities, but that is only one segment of the population,” she said.
Many more people have so-called invisible disabilities and if they did not tell you about them you would never know.

Disability can be a condition like chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, a heart condition, epilepsy. People on the autism spectrum often find it very hard to get work but they can having amazing computing skills. These are highly skilled people who find it difficult to go to the office every day, but can be extremely valuable employees working from home.”

Jessica’s vision for Australians with a disability is to have the choice to work in an environment with no barriers, physical, social or economic. She believes that the time has come for people with disability to determine their own economic futures, using the skills and experience they have gained to participate fully in the workforce. She believes Enabled Employment has the potential to relieve Australia’s current skills shortage by tapping into the talent pool of people with ‘invisible’ and acquired disability through telework. Enabled Employment was established to meet this challenge.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
Project Eve provides a platform in which we can network with other women and other entrepreneurs, a place to share ideas and learn from each other.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Never give up. Having a disability is tough, but that doesn’t mean that people with a disability should have fewer choices about where they want to work and what they want to do.

One in five people in Australia have a disability, which is in the region of 4 million people.

Don’t discount the ability of people to work in a safe and comfortable environment, by telework, you’ll be amazed at what people with disability can, and do, achieve.

Company: Enabled Employment


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