Meet Kerjabilitas, a Start-up Helping People with Disabilities to Enter the Workforce
By Fahmi Ramadhan
Kerjabilitas is a digital start-up working to create accessible job opportunities for people with disabilities. Earlier this month, I spoke with Rubby Emir, CEO and founder of Kerjabilitas, regarding their current efforts and plans for the future.
How did you come up with Kerjabilitas?
I’ve always had an interest in the issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities, ever since I was a child. I grew up with a sister who had learning difficulties, so this is an issue close to my heart. After graduating from university in 2004, I worked for a humanitarian non-governmental organization that engages with various communities, including indigenous people and Internally Displaced People caused by disasters in different parts in Indonesia. Through my work, I met a number of people with disabilities who inspired me. From them, I also learned that one of their biggest challenges is access to job opportunities. This is what drove me and my team to start Kerjabilitas.com.
In 2014, we proposed the idea of kerjabilitas.com to Ciptamedia Selular, a Ford Foundation-funded programme for tech-based social projects. We managed to win a prize and received a grant of USD 52,000 to develop the initiative. From March 2015 until now, we have about 5000 users registered on the site and 600 partners as job providers.
How does Kerjabilitas meet the needs of job seekers with disabilities?
First, our platform is compatible with screen readers which allow visually impaired people to read the screen with a text-to-speech output. In addition, we inserted special icons and symbols which are easier to understand for people who have hearing impairments.
Secondly, we have Disability Accessible Job Search feature where users can easily search for and apply to vacancies based on their type of disability and needs. Also, people who register on the platform can connect and interact with each other through the Career Networking feature.
Lastly, apart from building a profile and applying for jobs in the database, we have a special feature called Career Online Course where people with disabilities can also seek career advice via Kerjabilitas’ blogs, e-books and podcast series.
How do you make sure you reach your target audience?
We market this platform both offline and online to create greater impact. First, we disseminated information about Kerjabilitas.com through our networks in various communities of people with disabilities. We also utilize social media to engage with more people and increase their awareness. Through our partnerships, we also actively participate in various job fairs with government institutions at provincial and national levels.
How do you identify companies that are open to employing people with disabilities?
We do not have any specific requirements for companies because the willingness to recruit people with disabilities in the workforce remains low. We usually find potential companies by looking at the type of jobs and nature of the companies. For instance, we identify companies that are posting job openings such as Administration Assistant, Junior Clerk, Customer Service Operator for example. Looking at the types of companies, we also target those in the banking, manufacturing and hospitality sectors as some of them have implemented disability-friendly regulations.
What was the biggest challenge for you and the team in developing Kerjabilitas?
The biggest challenge is to increase the awareness of society, since the knowledge and awareness of disability issues in Indonesia is still quite low. This results in the low number of vacancies available for people with disabilities. Many of our existing partners still see this initiative as charity or as a channel for their own corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. They do not yet see this as business-as-usual because they have yet to consider people with disabilities as an asset for their companies, in the same way they see their other employees. We feel that as a society, we still have a long way to go on this issue.
Also, the commitment of job providers to pay for our services is still low. This is why we need to be more creative in developing our business model, which would make this initiative more sustainable.
What are your plans for Kerjabilitas?
Currently we are trying to monetise our platform by introducing paid features, such as accepting payments from job providers to keep their vacancies online for more than two weeks. In the future, we aim to become the one-stop-solution for jobs and careers for people with disabilities in Indonesia.
What is the most rewarding experience for you in relation to your work in Kerjabilitas?
It is always heart-warming for me when I hear news of a person with a disability finding meaningful work. Recently, there were ten people with disabilities who received job offers from one company — that was another first for us. Earlier in 2016, we received official endorsement from the Ministry of Manpower & Transmigration and Bank Mandiri as a national programme to recruit more job seekers with disabilities in 2017.
What message would you like to give to job seekers with disabilities?
Always strive for the best! There is still a long way to go for people with disabilities to be fully included in the workforce. We will journey together.
Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia.
Our smart-up Indonesia series attempts to showcase the data innovators and entrepreneurs that are shaping the nation. The articles should not be interpreted as product or service endorsements by Pulse Lab Jakarta or any of its partners.