Although there has been recent growth in deaf-owned businesses, accessible resources for deaf entrepreneurs continue to be sparse. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) announced today that it will establish an incubator program and social investment fund to support deaf-owned businesses.
“It is our belief that deaf businesses serve as an economic engine for employment among deaf individuals,” said CSD CEO Christopher Soukup. “By providing the training, resources, and support deaf-owned businesses need, we can then combat the dismal unemployment rates among deaf people.”
According to the National Business Incubation Association, businesses working with an incubator have an 87% success rate versus a 44% success rate for those that do not. “As a deaf individual who works for a deaf-owned business, I know firsthand the significant impact a deaf-owned enterprise can have,” CSD Board Chair Danny Lacey said. “The CSD board is fully supportive of this initiative, which furthers CSD’s charitable purpose of helping fuel the deaf community as a viable, successful vehicle for long-lasting accomplishments.”
The unemployment and underemployment situation among deaf Americans is currently at crisis levels and is a powerful motive for the establishment of this social investment fund. “CSD actively works to combat this unacceptable unemployment rate, which exists because many are hesitant to bring in deaf people, mistakenly believing they lack the necessary qualifications, expertise, and knowledge,” said Soukup. “In addition to our make-ready employment training programs, this incubator program will enhance the opportunities for deaf-owned businesses to become financially sustainable.”
It is also hoped that through this program, deaf-owned businesses will demonstrate to young deaf generations that they, too, can be entrepreneurs. “Often deaf children don’t see signing deaf people in business leadership positions, and mistakenly believe that only if they speak and assimilate into the hearing community can they succeed,” Soukup noted. “The truth is there are so many successful deaf-owned businesses already, which leads to jobs, businesses, and other investment opportunities that go back into the community. This then converts into more positive perceptions of deaf people, leading to even more opportunities.”
Soukup added, “By provide compelling alternatives to unemployment, we can cultivate success within our own community. We are creating our own success stories.”
Information about the incubator program and how to apply to participate will be available in August. To receive updates on CSD’s incubator program and other services, click on the Subscribe button below: