Just a couple of months into the covid-19 pandemic, several Indians faced layoffs among other tragedies. In Jamshedpur, Vineet Saraiwala started getting appeals for help on social media from several people including persons with disabilities. He kept thinking of how he could help a big number of people and the result was Atypical Advantage, a job portal for people with disabilities.
Vineet has a rare genetic condition that causes loss of vision called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management and has been working with a retail giant. He is well acquainted with the difficulties faced by people with disabilities to get and keep jobs. Self-image issues and lack of confidence further complicate the situation for many of them. Knowing all of this, he had his task cut out for himself.
He started with approaching the people who sent out the pleas. With the help of the candidates and their families, he first made strong profiles for all of them. Parallelly, he was in talks with a lot of corporates and NGOs to collaborate on this project. All of this took nine months. The platform was finally launched in December 2020. At the time of the launch, there were 200 registered job seekers on the platform, which has doubled now.
The platform connects employers and job seekers who can choose to take up gigs and projects as freelancers or full-time jobs. Among those who were looking for livelihood were several artists who were looking for a means to sell their art. It was this requirement that led to Vineet adding a marketplace to the format. The team of volunteers in India and abroad who help with the day-to-day operations of the platform also provide mentorship to the candidates, helping them in everything from raising their confidence to honing their skillsets. Even in the middle of a raging pandemic, several people with physical disabilities and those with conditions like autism and Down’s syndrome have ended up getting jobs and gigs in the few months. Artwork worth Rs. 3 lakh has also been sold in this duration.