Pacific Disabilities Center Hosts Entrepreneurship Workshop for Current and Aspiring Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Business Owners

PDC Entrepreneurship

Photo: Participants of the entrepreneurship workshop hosted by PDC present their design ideas to workshop facilitators.

In May 2016, the Pacific Disabilities Center (PDC) hosted a special entrepreneurship workshop for current and aspiring Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing business owners. The outcome was an eye-opening experience for those on hand.

Each person who attended said this was their first experience attending an entrepreneurial workshop tailored for a cohort of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing participants. The result was a demand for future opportunities to build upon their new or existing entrepreneurial skills.

“I learned so much and can’t wait to have more workshops,” said Inna Ilyadzhanova, one of the participants. “It is very empowering to be told that we possess the skills to become successful business owners, regardless of the fact that we’re Deaf.”

Dr. Peter Mataira, PDC’s Senior Researcher, led the first workshop, which was designed to cover two topics: “Conceptualizing and Drafting a Business Plan,” and “Communicating Your Business.” Participants took part in activities meant to help them grasp basic principles of an effective business plan, including how to identify and explore business opportunities. The cohort also discussed the ups and downs of trying to start a business, and why it is important not to get discouraged.

“I know I have the skills and the passion, but it’s scary to take the first step,” Joshua Smith said of starting a business. “Getting support from experts who are qualified to work with Deaf individuals has given me more confidence.”

Efforts to bolster the entrepreneurial skills of current and aspiring Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing business owners is a part of PDC’s plans to establish an online directory of such business owners based in Hawai’i. The idea for this directory emerged when members of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community expressed concerns about various challenges business owners face in attracting customers.

“Instead of focusing on their disability and what Deaf or hard-of-hearing can’t do, we’re shifting the attention to their extraordinary talents and concentrating on what they can do, which is a lot,” explained Dr. Violet Horvath, Director of PDC. “If you are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing and want to start a business, please consider getting in touch with us to see how we may support your goals.”

For more information, contact Colin Whited via email at cmwhited@hawaii.edu or video phone at (808) 353-3075. He may also be reached at (808) 692-1377.