Social Entrepreneur Index nominee: Evenbreak
Spotting a gap in provision to support disabled people and employers, Jane Hatton created Evenbreak, a social enterprise that provides a job board, training and consultancy.
What does your social enterprise do?
We help disabled people find work with inclusive employers who will value their skills, and help employers attract talented disabled candidates through a specialist job board.
We also help employers become more inclusive through training, consultancy and an online best practice portal. This is all delivered by people with lived experience of disability.
What made you start your business up?
Employers told me they didn’t want to employ disabled people, or they did, but didn’t know how to. Disabled candidates told me they didn’t know which employers would take them seriously. There is a huge (30%) gap between the proportion of disabled people in work compared to non-disabled people. As an employer and a disabled person, I saw a gap in provision, and so started Evenbreak.
How do you measure your impact?
We measure quantitative data such as numbers of jobs posted, views of jobs, clicks to apply, candidates registered, employers advertising, and qualitative data such as case studies from employees, candidates and employers.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
A colleague loaned me the money for the first iteration of the job board, and I got some support from UnLtd.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
I didn’t want to be a charity (I think it sends out all the wrong messages about employing disabled people), or a profit-making company, so I registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee, run as a social enterprise.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
Seeing the life-changing impact that gaining a job can have on disabled people.
What have been the three biggest challenges that you have overcome (or that you’re still working on)?
In the first years, attracting both candidates and employers simultaneously (both need the other!) was difficult, and attracting enough income to be sustainable. What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Stick with it, but expect everything to cost twice as much as you expected, and take three times as long! Keep asking questions, listening and learning. Make the beneficiaries the heart of everything you do.
Why do you think social enterprise is important?
It’s the acceptable face of capitalism – business, but with a positive impact for a large number of usually disadvantaged people, rather than just making a few rich people even richer.
What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?
So many, but I think the first candidate who got a job through Evenbreak – telling us she now had a purpose, and the dignity of being valued, and contributing.
What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Social Enterprise UK, School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd.
What’s been the most surprising thing about creating a social enterprise?
How amazingly generous other social enterprises are with their time, resources and encouragement.
What are your plans for the next two to five years?
To continue to expand internationally, increasing the social impact we can help to create.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?
Helping others replacing greed as the primary motivator for people. What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?
Being placed as the seventh most influential disabled person in Britain by the Shaw Trust Power 100 in 2019, employing an amazing team of people who make Evenbreak as amazing as it is, publishing my first book.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
No amount of financial success will match the amazing feeling of having created something which genuinely changes people’s lives. And it’s a huge motivator for staff too.