These Innocent Angels Can Also Stand on Their Own Feet and Acquire Self-Affirmation
Due to unexpected arrangements, many parents with disabled children are carrying burdens of loved ones in their families, who will never be given up upon. Also, there are institutions willing to assist these fabulous parents in our society; for example, the Yu-Cheng Social Welfare Foundation (hereinafter referred to as “the foundation”) is among one of them. Thanks to the effort and dedication of ardent parents and supportive people, with an approval from the Taipei City Government Department of Social Welfare, this foundation was established in 1994.
Upholding the core value of “profound love of parents, never-give-up spirit”, the foundation aims to provide disabled children a lifelong impeccable service. Over years, parents with disabled children have been searching for a promised land where happiness and complete satisfaction can be assured for their children. In order to mitigate the burden these families carry and to help the children with mild or moderate intellectual disabilities become independent, the foundation established the “Ji-xian Shelter Workshop” in 2004. With the concept of “Teach a Man How to Fish Rather Than Give him a fish”, Ji-Xian Shelter Workshop offers these children jobs to foster their working capability, enhance their interpersonal relationships, and thus achieve self-affirmation.
Development in New Cooperation Model & Establishment in Complete Sales Channel
Although the foundation was successful in teaching these innocent angels to make products, the challenges were their insufficient knowledge of market and marketing. Fortunately, the situation started to change after the foundation joined’ “Multiple Employment Promotion Program (MEPP)” held by Ministry of Labor (MOL) in 2008. Thereafter, the Natural Food Direct Sales Plan (hereinafter called “Direct Sales Plan”) was implemented. This Direct Sales plan aimed to enter the market and assist the shelter workshop in building up a complete and smooth direct sales channel, to help sheltered employees to acquire higher payment and service experience, to enhance proficiencies of anyone involved in this plan; and finally to support the foundation in promoting social welfare.
The dedication of the foundation made in becoming a social enterprise could be divided into two major aspects. Firstly, the foundation has headed towards financial independent institution. It separated the shelter workshop and MEPP team as different strategic business units. Each of them is independent in operations, management and finance. The shelter workshop is responsible for the product development, contacts with suppliers, purchasing and packaging, while the MEPP team is in charge of establishing the brand, maintaining the marketing and sales channels, human resources and feeding back market trend information to shelter workshop team. These require impeccable cooperation between the two. Secondly, in regard to assist employees in fostering their employability, the foundation has cooperated with organizations sharing same value to train the employees together. For example, it’s cooperated with food companies and thus help its employees to learn the manufacturing processes of natural non-additive food products; the foundation also works with restaurants for them to practice more on directly selling and promotion of natural food.
The last but not the least, in terms of environmental friendliness, the foundation has fulfilled its mission of using natural food. In addition to using crops grown in Taiwan to reduce food miles (or food system energy use) and carbon emission, the foundation has also adopted natural farming techniques. Without any chemical fertilizer or pesticide involved, pollutions to our environment are reduced. The foundation has also set a milestone by displaying products in HOLA hypermarket and large-sized organic product retailers, where its brand name “Love Nature” becomes more known to consumers and thus creates more job opportunities for sheltered members; At the same time, the foundation tries to expand its market with higher profit potential by participation in exhibitions and company visiting so that while promoting the concept of “natural food without additives”, it enables enterprises to know more about disabled people. Besides, the foundation offers customized products catering to the Top 100 companies in Taiwan, workshop tour and other services to enlarge the chance of further business.
Over past 20 years, the foundation has not only kept offering jobs and supports to the disabled, it also dedicated in producing natural, healthy and non-additive food to the public. Through “Multiple Employment Promotion Program”, the foundation has successfully established marketing channel, enhanced its production capability in workshop, and raised payments of their sheltered employees. In the future, the foundation will keep assisting more people with disabilities and offering them a stage for them to glow and for public to see their talents.