How one Polish company is proving disability is no handicap when it comes to working

In partnership with The European Commission
How one Polish company is proving disability is no handicap when it comes to working
By Robert HackwillSerge Rombi
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For those bedridden or paralysed the jobs market appears to be closed. One Polish entrepreneur is turning that notion on its head.

This edition of Business Planet goes to Katowice, Poland for a very special company, a social enterprise where helping people is as important as the bottom line.

Today, 10% of European companies are social enterprises. They employ 11 million people and they are particularly innovative. Majka Lipiak is on a mission, to give work to those who were destined to never work again ...

"We are the first marketing agency in the world whose goal is to give work to paralyzed people. We teach them marketing and give them all the tools so that they are able to respond - professionally - to the expectations of our customers," she explains.

Artur Szaflik is one of eight employees. He is also the co-founder of the agency with Majka. Artur has been paralyzed in all 4 members and bed-ridden for more than 20 years. Before meeting Majka three years ago, Artur had never worked.

Today, he is recognized as a marketing specialist. He also participates in the recruitment and training of new employees for the agency. It is an experience that has completely changed his life.

"This job gave me the opportunity to have contact with the outside world, it also brought me extra income, and it allowed me to show what the handicap is, to show we can fight it and we can work, and when we want, we can do anything! " he says.

Creativity, discipline, motivation: Majka is particularly proud of Artur's work, even if she admits it is sometimes longer and more difficult with paralyzed people. The approach is nevertheless appreciated by the agency's clients.

"The reactions are always very positive," says Artur. "I have never had a negative reaction. It is true that customers are sometimes surprised, but they are especially proud and inspired by working with us."

What is very interesting is that Majka's company today has a real impact on its market.

"Yes indeed ! Our customers are happy and our employees too! Today, we compete with the other marketing agencies. We work for a glass producer, a cultural center and a drug distributor, among others. And they are all big companies!" she says.

Majka's initiative was semi-finalist at the European Competition for Social Innovation. This competition, organized by the European Commission, awards prizes each year to social projects that have the greatest impact on society. The 2018 winners will be announced in early November.

And Majka has absolutely no intention of resting on her laurels, and has a head is full of ideas to develop her concept.

"We are setting up a digital platform to connect employers and employees, a sort of professional meeting platform. We are starting here in Poland, but there is nothing stopping us from developing it for others countries! "

To find out more info, visit our Business Planet web page and euronews' social networks.

Social Innovation

• Solutions that help meet social needs in a new, more effective way are called social innovations.

• There are many examples of social enterprises or social innovators reducing inequality and promoting social inclusion though their products, services or business models.

• The European Social Innovation Competition, organised by the European Commission across all European countries, looks for such new solutions to the problems affecting our society.

• Every year, a key issue is selected as the theme of the competition and three projects offering the best solutions win €50,000 prizes.

• The 2018 edition, title RE:THINK Local looks for solutions that transform local challenges into opportunities for the inclusion of young people in the economy. The 3 winners will be announced on 8 November in Brussels.

Useful Links

• Social economy

• Social innovation

• Social innovation competition

• Twitter

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