Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011
During the State of the Union address, I was lying on the living room floor listening to the president talk about the entrepreneurial spirit and the future of the United States of America. I got chills down my spine thinking about how important that statement is to our future.
Our future is now. As Americans, we have capitalism as our financial backbone. Capitalism breeds entrepreneurship.
As people with disabilities we look towards employment and opportunity. Employment for people with disabilities is a constant struggle, as is advancement within one's career. It can be a challenge to get able-bodied people to look at people with disabilities as "unemployable commodity."
To combat this, people with disabilities are on the forefront of entrepreneurship. We build businesses to be able to employ ourselves and help the world around us. There are examples of these businesses all across the United States. Take a look at Linda Erb at OhGoodyGoody.com, who is building a local business website and showing entrepreneurial spirit.
After speaking publicly to Fortune 500 businesses, universities and high school students around the nation about being a person with a disability, I see a great opportunity. A business opportunity. A venture capital funded opportunity. In the spring of 2011, I will be launching my dream just as President Obama described in his 2011 State of the Union when he stated...
the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.
Because of President Obama's speech and the subsequent press releases about Startup America, I reached out to Startup America as well as all the businesses they listed as partners on their website. I sent a long e-mail explaining myself and my idea. I was very excited about working with these businesses who've publicly said they are interested in entrepreneurship as part of the growth for the United States of America. I waited for a response.
I am still waiting.
Not one of the businesses, and only one nonprofit organization which cannot help me because I don't reside in their state, replied. Startup America did not reply. They have a very pretty website, but must not be investing in manpower.
There are organizations out there willing to be supportive. The USBLN is an organization whose mission is
...the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the labor force and marketplace; assists in career preparation for and employment of people with disabilities, improves customer experiences for people with disabilities, and promotes the certification and growth of disability-owned business.
They respond when called. So does CSAVR- the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation. Their mission is
effective and efficient national program of public vocational rehabilitation services which empowers individuals with disabilities to achieve employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence...
These two organizations are used to dealing with people, businesses and entrepreneurs. Start-up America should reach out to them to find out how they can partner.
It's very discouraging to realize how naïve I was to think these businesses really do want entrepreneurs to connect. I am what President Obama discussed. So is Linda Erb and many, many others. My idea is what Startup America is about, based on their press releases. It's too bad they don't know it.
By John Robinson, THE HUFFINGTON POST