Giant smiles are shared amongst seven eager entrepreneurs on their first day of Autism Works training. Tapiwa Rabwi, a 4th year student at Saint Mary’s, has been working tirelessly with David Patterson of Autism Nova Scotia, to create a curriculum tailored to entrepreneurs with autism. Rabwi and Patterson, having worked together through the Enactus project Accessibility for a few years, noticed an increase in desire for the people who used the services of Autism Nova Scotia to start their own business.
“80% of people with autism don’t have employment! There is a huge stigma against autism and I don’t know why. People on the spectrum are some of the hardest working and most dedicated people” says Rabwi. “They are some of the most focused people I have ever met!”
Autism Works is a program that encourages the growth and sustainability of businesses created and managed by people on the autism spectrum. They are coached on numerous professional development sessions from pitching their ideas to creating a business plan. The entrepreneurs are then paired up with mentors from the Enactus team to help them grow their business. Homework is given on a weekly basis, based on the tasks identified by the entrepreneur that need to be completed.
The group believes that mentoring is a great way to encourage the entrepreneurs to get out of their comfort zone, and go out and network. Mentors will meet up with their entrepreneur and take a day to go out and chat with people. This helps to increase awareness for these entrepreneurs’ amazing businesses.
Craig Large started his own company, Plumbing by Large after being certified, and wanted to make sure that the plumbing customers were paying for was done right. Craig is extremely focused, often times triple checking his work and doing follow ups with customers to make sure that everything even days after is still running smoothly. His customer list is based on word of mouth, keeping him extremely busy.
Leslie Gates & Brad Wilton
Enactus Saint Mary’s Universiy