Founder Vineet Saraiwala is a visually-impaired management professional and IIM Bangalore product.
A hearing-impaired photographer from Pune, a wheelchair-bound voiceover artiste from Bengaluru, and a Kerala-based graphic designer with hearing difficulties. These are among the scores of differently-abled persons who may have found a new professional direction with Atypical Advantage, an online platform that launched today. The website offers hiring services exclusively for such creative artists, enabling the sale of their products and services.
The unique e-commerce site, touted to be India's first of its kind, showcases their wares and helps individuals or institutional clients engage with them professionally.
Siddhi Pawar, a Pune-based woman photographer with hearing impairment, for instance, is listed and is now looking out for assignments from anywhere. Specialising in portraits, landscapes, and macro photography, her work samples are featured on the www.atypicaladvantage.in
Aluva, Kerala-based Abdul Shukoor KM is a hearing-impaired graphics designer who is also listed, offering designing, video-editing, web-designing, and 3D animation services.
Others enrolled include people with a range of disabilities, including visual impairment, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and locomotor disability. The around 200 products and services listed include sign language interpretation, physiotherapy, graphic designing, restaurant and bakery services, modeling, motivational speaking, dance and music, and voiceover services, among others.
Atypical Advantage aims at a tenfold rise in listing within a year, creating 5,000 livelihood opportunities and garnering up to Rs 10 lakh worth in sales a year. It must, however, be noted that the platform does not charge anything from those enlisting or recruiting, except a 15-20 per cent commission in sales alone, towards operational costs.
It ensures quality through an in-house team of experts. "Only those who are verified and approved get listed," Vineet Saraiwala, the founder of Atypical Advantage, told NDTV.
Ultimately, it all leads to a more dignified and satisfying public and professional life for those involved.
Dhanya Ravi, 31, is a Bengaluru-based model with osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition better known as brittle bone syndrome. Talking to NDTV about Atypical Advantage, Ms Ravi said, "This attempt adds meaning to our life and such livelihood opportunity would mean dignity."
Talking to NDTV about the genesis of Atypical Advantage, Mr Saraiwala, the 30-year-old visually-impaired management professional and a post-graduate of IIM Bangalore, recalled his own struggle.
"Recently I struggled when I wanted to hire a differently-abled voiceover artiste. I could not find a platform that brings disability talent together, though there are many who want to engage differently-abled people. That's when this idea came," Mr Saraiwala said.
Not surprisingly, many view his initiative as a promising one.
"This yet again proves differently-abled are productive citizens; not a liability but an asset to society. Vineet has sown a hybrid seed. This is worthy of replication," said C Govindakrishnan, Founder of Nethrodaya, a Chennai-based body that works on the empowerment of the visually challenged.