Venture Capital, the Disability Economy and the Path to Innovation (Part One)


Thought leader and technology entrepreneur Henry Joseph-Grant once said that “Ultimately, an investment is an instrument of trust as much as belief…” Those words couldn’t be truer when he it’s about the dance between the disability economy and the venture capital ecosystem. This is an emerging area that has yet to be explored, however, we have reached a boiling point where it can no longer be overlooked. In recent years, the articulation of the business case for the disability economy has emerged from obscurity and is continually refined to examine a range of areas ranging from purchasing power, rising entrepreneurship to the development and culture of sectors from fashion, technology, to the arts. Over the past few years, a host of opportunities have begun to reveal themselves, with greater emphasis on ESG investment philosophies offering a new phase for a potential merger between the booming disability economy and ecosystem. investment forming a harmonious relationship.

However, before venture capitalists, tech accelerators and other private equity firms jump on the high-speed bandwagon that is disability economics, there needs to be recognition and understanding of the subtleties and distinctions that define the diverse nature of the disability narrative. By providing investors with a better understanding not only to assess business opportunities as well as a level of psychological safety to meet the needs of entrepreneurs with disabilities, we can also begin to highlight a new framework that will improve the future relationship between the investor arm and the nascent economic hamlet that is the Disability Community.

During the last Mindset matters columns, we have discussed the importance of psychological safety, however, when it comes to the relationship between the investment community and the disability economy, this concept needs to be amplified to expose the pathways through which to create a healthier relationship between investors, founders and entrepreneurs. The role of psychological safety in this situation provides a blueprint for overcoming challenges such as the role of stigma which can become a barrier throughout the process. By cultivating a relationship where investors and entrepreneurs can communicate openly and preconceptions can begin to be swept away, we can ultimately come to a place where we can find more effective ways to deal with adversity, finding solutions and creating opportunities at all levels.

One of the big barriers within the investment community when it comes to the disability economy is unconscious bias resulting from cultural stigma. What disability economics does, by its very definition, is break down these constraints and help redefine the role of people with disabilities in business and, ultimately, the world.

The goal of the following columns is to continue to explore in more depth the fact that the investment community and the disability economy need each other. Being able to build this relationship requires not only skills, knowledge and know-how, but also time. Given that with changing social and cultural trends where ESG investing and issues of diversity, equity and inclusion have played a prominent role within the business ecosystem, Investors have more opportunities to immerse themselves in the protean disability economy and discover both the social economy and economic opportunities that can be a win for all.


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