It will begin by funding 10 global accelerators working with early-stage entrepreneurs innovating at the intersection of disability and technology.
SmartJob, a first-of-its-kind impact consultant focused on closing the disability wealth gap by catalyzing employment through innovation, has launched a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, in partnership with Enable Ventures — the first impact venture fund dedicated to closing the disability wealth gap.
Announced Monday at this year’s CGI meeting, the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Fund will provide direct funding for 10 global accelerators working with early-stage entrepreneurs innovating at the intersection of disability and technology to prepare them for investment by Enable Ventures and other venture funds seeking market-rate, risk-adjusted returns at the intersection of disability and tech innovation.
The disabled population currently experiences crisis-level unemployment and a lack of capital investing in early-stage solutions. According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 billion people globally — roughly 15 percent of the world’s population — live with disabilities. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s working-age persons with disabilities (PWD) are not employed. All in all, it is estimated that the global GDP loses approximately $1.9 trillion annually due to exclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.
“The Moonshot Disability Accelerator Fund is an unrivaled step toward truly supporting a global marketplace for innovators with disabilities and those working with people with disabilities to create new technologies to improve the human experience. This is a signpost that people with disabilities will unlock new value for society and play a prominent role in the workplace and global marketplace in the coming decades,” said SmartJob founder and Chair Gina Kline, who is also founder and Managing Partner of Enable Ventures. “For the first time in history, there is a nexus of rising societal expectations, rapidly advancing technological innovation and significant capital earmarked for DEI to build an inclusive economy. The workplace and capital markets can no longer afford to ignore people with disabilities. This Commitment to Action will ensure that accelerator partners around the world have the financial support to enable early-stage enterprises with game-changing tech innovations to become investment ready. We are incredibly grateful to CGI for its leadership in bringing this groundbreaking initiative to its world-class convening and amplifying the message of a rising class of innovators with disabilities across the world and those working as leaders in the global disability tech market.”
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“SmartJob’s and Enable Ventures’ innovative initiative will provide critical opportunities for workers with disabilities across the globe,” said Rose Aka-James, Senior Community Manager of Health Equity at CGI.
“For too long, the disability community has been overlooked by capital markets. The Moonshot commitment recognizes the boundless opportunities waiting at the intersection of disability and technology — introducing a new era where equity is at the center.”
SmartJob will serve as the impact consultant for the Moonshot Fund, which will be a fiscally sponsored project of the New Venture Fund — an independent 501(c)(3) organization specializing in helping funder collaboratives and others launch new social change projects.
In its role as impact consultant, SmartJob will make recommendations regarding deployment of Moonshot Fund capital to the global accelerators and to early-stage companies that have been supported by the initiative’s accelerators. The companies that will comprise the accelerator cohorts will require very early investment to reach commercial viability. This kind of high-risk capital is catalytic and crucial to early-stage companies bridging the pioneer gap before they enter subsequent rounds of venture capital funding.
There are more than 2.5 billion people who would benefit from assistive products; and people with disabilities, alongside their friends and family, control over $13 trillion in global disposable income. The global disability community is expected to increase from 1.5 billion people to 3.5 billion by 2050 as populations age and the rate of non-communicable diseases rises. And the tech world has slowly started tuning in: Microsoft has developed a growing collection of adaptive computer accessories and AT&T has worked with organizations such as World Enabled on projects that scale more inclusive tech solutions, but such initiatives remain few and far between. Meanwhile, the assistive-tech market in the US alone will be valued at $26 billion by 2024.
“The disability market is massively underserved and undercapitalized. I know from my own experience as an entrepreneur that investing in disability-related innovations can be profitable and personally enriching,” said Jim Sorenson, President and founder of the Sorenson Impact Group, which supports Enable Ventures. “I believe that the CGI Commitment to Action for the Moonshot Fund will play a critical role in capturing the enormous innovation taking place at the intersection of disability and turning these many great ideas into investible transformational products and services for us all.”
Moonshot Disability Accelerator Fund
The Fund will aim to support 10 accelerators in eight different countries. Through this initiative, the Moonshot Fund will identify and support cohorts in these accelerators that will, in turn, support and mentor approximately 220 early-stage companies across the globe in 2022-2023. In addition, the Fund plans to deploy catalytic, seed-stage investments into companies in the Moonshot’s accelerator cohorts.
The first global accelerators that the Moonshot Fund intends to support are:
Global Centre of Possibility (NZ) | Minnie Baragwanath
Access to Success Accelerator (CAN) | Varun Chandak
AT Innovate Now (KE) | Bernard Chiira
Global Disability Innovation Hub Incubator, University College London (UK) | Catherine Holloway
Remarkable Accelerator (AUST) | Pete Horsley (US); Molly Levitt
Disability Impact Fund Incubator (CHN) | Jani Jalavisto
AssisTech Foundation (IN) | Prateek Madhav
2Gether-International (US) | Diego Mariscal
Synergies Work i2i Incubator (US) | Aarti Sahgal
Communication Service for the Deaf – Social Venture Fund Incubator (US) | Rosa Lee Timm