Although entrepreneurship is presented as an opportunity and alternative form of employment, people with disabilities face considerable challenges related to business development. According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica (2021), more than 90% of the people with disabilities in Spain indicate the existence of barriers to find adequate employment – mostly due to health reasons, but also due to lack of opportunities, lack of qualifications and experience, and to societal bias.
Aiming at unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of people with disabilities and to address the difficulties these individuals face when starting or growing their business, Fundación Prevent launched an academic-entrepreneurial program called Aula de Emprendimiento: Aprende y Emprende (which translates to “Classroom of Entrepreneurship: Learn and Undertake”) in 2014.
Looking to accelerate inclusiveness in Europe’s entrepreneurial and incubation environment, Impact Hub teamed up with partners to enhance Business Support Organisations’ skills, methods and approaches towards different under-represented groups. For that end, Communities of Practices (CoP) have been developed and are taking place as a space for participants to share their knowledge and experiences on how to best support entrepreneurs from different backgrounds – for instance, Aula de Emprendimiento has been appointed as an exemplary good practice to be replicated targeted at the inclusion of people with disabilities in the sector.
Inclusion In and Out of the Classroom
Aula de Emprendimiento: Aprende y Emprende is the result programme of a collaboration between Fundación Prevent and ESADE Business School. This partnership is based on the complementary expertise and experience of both organisations – while ESADE Business School and its faculty brings academic rigor and quality, Fundación Prevent offers advice and guidance on how to ensure the curriculum and classes are adjusted to the needs of the people with disabilities.
The 7-months long training programme takes a holistic approach to professional, personal and interpersonal growth and is specifically targeted at people with disabilities. It offers academic tutoring, mentoring, networking opportunities and practical learning experience from prestigious companies, ensuring that participants are exposed to different aspects of knowledge necessary to venture into the entrepreneurial process.
With an estimated cost of €6000 per student, the programme is free and fully funded for all students – which makes it as inclusive as possible. The program also has an economic fund offering to provide financial aid for the implementation of best valued projects. In addition, as an incentive, those who finalise the academic programme have the opportunity to ask for financial support to develop their projects.
“Learn by doing” is Aula de Emprendimiento’s philosophy, and in order not to leave anyone behind and ensure a smooth process, their support approach is customized and individualized. The accessibility of the content and sessions is also a guaranteed point (e.g. through the use of sign language, providing interpretation support, transcription of classes, accessibility to facilities for people with reduced mobility etc.), which enables participants from different contexts to fully emerge into the learning process.