Singapore-based ImpossibleFoundation has just launched to get the city-state’s physically challenged into new jobs by educating and empowering them with digital skill-sets.
The idea came to Alan Koh, previously an award-winning banker with Standard Chartered who began his own startup Impossible Marketing in 2013, during one of his seminars.
“One time, there was this lady who came to my seminar… She was disabled, only had one leg and came in on her wheelchair. It really inspired me. Maybe I should do something about it? At that moment, I decided to offer her a free seat in my class,” Koh told e27 in an interview.
“That is when the ImpossibleFoundation started. I sat down with my team and we talked about doing some free training to give back to society,” he added.
Singapore has several foundations helping the physically challenged, but two of note are: Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) and Handicap Welfare Association (HWA). The initiative is now working with both, offering free training days twice a month that includes basic skills in website building and online marketing.
SPD already runs some digital training, such as in using Microsoft software and programmes, but Koh says there are none that he knows of in the digital marketing space. He has just opened the Malaysia branch of the training programme in Kuala Lumpur, though it is not yet operational.
“The reason we decided to start the foundation is because we saw a gap… Today, when we are doing digital marketing we know what the client wants. So we know the skills that are needed to recruit [people] so they can work from home,” Koh said.
“We are teaching skills that are relevant for all organisations, because all organisations need to go online,” he added.
A second woman who inspired Koh was an ex-reporter from Business Times who had been involved in a serious accident. She was jobless for about six months before attending the digital marketing seminar. Now she works as a content writer for Impossible Marketing.
While Koh admits that he is not able to hire most people that come through the foundation’s training programme, the goal is to at least give them a fighting chance to find employment in the market and learn something new.
Last month, Singapore’s government announced changes to its Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) to better support such people through technology.