Launched in 2019, change catalyst enterprise Will&Able is on a mission to create jobs and gives purpose to people with disabilities in the community. Its aim is for every Kiwi with a disability to have an equal chance of having a job like any able-bodied person.
First of its kind in New Zealand, Will&Able employs people with disabilities to help fill and pack their range of eco-friendly cleaning products, including hand soap, dish liquid and dish powder, multi-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner and laundry liquid. The eco-range is available on the company’s e-commerce shopping channel and Price Wise and Countdown stores nationwide. The brand also have plans to launch into FoodStuff stores within the first six months of 2021.
Will&Able provides a purposeful way for those with disabilities to build a life for themselves, gain more independence and secure financial freedom, while also having support. General manager Craig Burston says the company’s aim is to create more than 100 jobs for people with disabilities by the end of 2022.
“We hope to become a world leader in showcasing a business model that can scale jobs for people with disabilities and pay the minimum wage. On this note, we are looking forward to growing our customer base to be able to create more work and therefore, jobs.”
People with disabilities are three times more likely to be unemployed, and without work, can often experience isolation and anxiety. CEO Martin Wylie says many workers at Will&Able have historically been confronted with things they can’t do, which is why his organisation is all about presenting them with things they can do.
“At Will&Able they get independence and the choice to either stay with us long term or look for other opportunities with the experience they gain with us,” says Wylie.
So far, the company has had a phenomenal response, however the challenge remains generating ongoing demand that will support ongoing work for more and more people.
“Kiwis really resonate with supporting local brands and helping keep other Kiwis in employment, especially after Covid-19 hit in 2020. Job security was more uncertain at this time, and even more so for vulnerable people, like people with disabilities who are often the first to have their jobs go,” says Burston.
After featuring on Seven Sharp, the company saw an overwhelming amount of people resonate with its purpose, gaining more than 20,000 new customers. The ongoing challenge is to maintain consistent sales to generate enough work and cash flow to support its workers.
“We’re grateful for each of our customers who have helped us get where we are today!” says Burston.