Some of the entrepreneurs from Venture Enterprises
March 9th, 2022
North Vancouver's Venture Enterprises helps persons with intellectual disabilities harness their creativity as entrepreneurs.
We talked with program manager Jordan Chin about why Venture Enterprises was started, some of the awesome products on offer, and the underestimated potential of persons with disabilities.
TREAT YOURSELF TO AWESOME ITEMS
Why was Venture Enterprises started?
Jordan: We'd been looking to develop a vocational skills program to help persons with intellectual disabilities build their employment skills.
We realized that self-employment would give participants the chance to pursue their interests while developing skills that could be transferred to other types of employment. The program's been running for a few years now and is funded through Community Living BC.
How do participants come up with the ideas for their products? Jordan: Our participants discuss their interests with their vocational trainers, and from there work on developing items which coincide with that interest. We're a person-centered organization, which means we want participants to be the guiding force.
One of the big ones has been animals, and we have one participant who makes cat toys, and another who makes dog toys. Another one of our participants loves cooking, so we supported her in writing her own cookbook.
Some of the cool creations of Venture Enterprises entrepreneurs
What support do the participants get?
Jordan: Our vocational trainers are there to support participants in whatever area they need extra assistance.
That includes helping them create advertisements, brainstorming product ideas, ensuring they have all the supplies they need, regular check-ins, as well as opportunities to build general business skills - such as how to market themselves.
We also look for opportunities to connect our participants to each other. For example, one of them loves photography, so he helps take promotional photos for others.
A video highlighting Venture Enterprises
What impact has it had on the participants?
Jordan: It's had a big impact. Our participants take great pride in their products - some to the point they're a little obsessed! They're building employable skills and confidence at the same time.
You have to realize that throughout their lives many of them have heard 'no you can't do this' or 'you're not able to do that', but here they get a chance to show their talents.
What's the main barrier to employment for persons with intellectual disabilities? Jordan: I think it's the misconception that people with disabilities can't perform tasks as a job will require. Many participants don't require any support, and the ones who do often only need a bit of extra assistance to excel in their job.
So the big barrier is the willingness to give them a chance. Most of the time, if you do give them a chance, they'll shine.
How can people support Venture Enterprises? Jordan: The best way's to purchase items from our online shop.
The profit goes directly back to participants, and for some of them it's their only source of financial support. We also regularly have sales, around holidays and big events, so keep an eye out.
Support Venture Enterprises by buying something cool from their shop!
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!