Applying social business as a pathway to job creation
a case of people with disabilities in El Salvador
Disability is a complex phenomenon. It reflects the interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the society in which he or she lives. Therefore, overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities requires the participation of different actors and interventions to remove environmental and social barriers (World Health Organization, WHO, 2018). Said interventions tend to vary from one society to another, generally influenced by public policies, education and awareness.
In the case of El Salvador, the attention and priority given to people with disabilities and their needs has been limited. There have been some improvements, particularly in the employment field with the implementation of the Law of Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities, the National Policy of Integral Attention for People with Disabilities and the ratification of international conventions; however, is been a challenge to guarantee the application and enforcement of these instruments and this has impacted negatively the available employment opportunities and financial independence of this sector of the population.
Other structural conditions of the country have also favored the existence of a wide array of barriers that have produced an increasing gap between people with and without disabilities and in many cases have perpetuated poverty. This gap needs to be addressed by different sectors of society since the barriers are imposed and reproduced by multiple actors and affect every aspects of a person’s life.
Currently there are some initiatives among companies that have benefited people with disabilities. These initiatives are mainly recognized as Corporate Social Responsibility. The initiatives commonly vary from creation of job banks and job fairs to the training of people with disabilities in multiple areas, however, the network of inclusive companies and job offers are still limited due to the soft application of laws and sanctions, lack of awareness and particularly, due to psychological barriers imposed by society. It is important to recognize that, even when these initiatives have been beneficial to people with disabilities and also are a good starting point towards inclusion, these should not be regarded as charity since access to equal employment, education, training and other rights are a responsibility that has to be fulfilled and not just a mere act of good will.
It is undeniable that the Salvadoran government and its institutions still have a lot of work to do when it comes to inclusion and enforcing the Law of Equal Opportunities. Is also undeniable that there is an urgent need of opening more spaces and creating more opportunities particularly in the employment field since it is through employment that people can achieve a better quality of life, financial independence and decision-making power. In this context, an initiative that could be well received in El Salvador and that could generate a positive impact in the topic of inclusion and employment for people with disabilities is Social Business. This is a recent trend that is on the rise and is also an innovative alternative that proposes a sustainable way of addressing social and environmental issues that have not been solved or covered by the government.
Fortunately, El Salvador already counts with a network of professionals and groups of people with long experience in this field. There is also a network of trainees with a certain type of disability that are ready to take up on jobs and are just waiting for a job opening. These conditions represent an opportunity for Social Businesses that aim to increase and promote inclusion and start breaking gaps among the different sectors of the Salvadoran society. These businesses are also supported by successful stories in other countries such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Spain. These initiatives demonstrate that the positive impact is not only perceived by the direct beneficiaries but by the whole society since they create an added value and tackle issues that societies have struggled to solve for long periods of time.
The following questions have been selected for this document: What are the conditions that exist nowadays in El Salvador in regard to disability?
What are the main barriers and challenges that are faced by people with disabilities in El Salvador
when it comes to employment opportunities?
What are some of the initiatives that are being implemented by businesses in order to contribute to solving issues in El Salvador?
What are the areas of opportunity that can be used to promote inclusion and generate employment for people with disabilities in El Salvador?
Are there any international examples that can be replicated in El Salvador?
The ultimate and expected goal of this study is understanding the existing barriers for people with disabilities in El Salvador and identifying successful social businesses endeavors that can be replicated in the country as well as detecting opportunity areas that can be used to create sustainable jobs and promote inclusion in the country.
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