Fundraising opens for the Moonshot Initiative’s Pledge to Close the Disability Wealth Gap
Washington, DC, September 19, 2023 – SmartJob, the first-of-its-kind global company dedicated to closing the disability wealth gap by catalyzing employment through innovation — in partnership with Enable Ventures — is pleased to announce the release of groundbreaking research into the global state of the disability innovation ecosystem. Also noteworthy is that fundraising for the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative (Moonshot Initiative), a charitable initiative fiscally sponsored at New Venture Fund, has now commenced.
The Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative — launched as part of SmartJob’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action — received anchor sponsorship for Phase I of its work from JPMorgan Chase, which jumpstarted fundraising efforts and financed the new report, Disability Innovation: Empowering the Entrepreneurs Reimagining Inclusion Around the World. The research analyzes the global landscape for disability innovation hubs, accelerators and entrepreneurial support organizations in the innovation sector working to support the next generation of inclusive technology start-ups and to close the disability wealth gap.
Developed by SmartJob in partnership with Village Capital and 10 disability technology accelerators, the historic report leveraged Village Capital’s cutting-edge tool, Abaca ESO, to assess the development and capacity needs of disability-led Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) and gather data and insights about the current state of disability innovation support. The report explores the disability technology market’s untapped potential and highlights opportunities to grow and support the disability technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem with further funding, resources, and support.
Among the report's key findings:
Significant innovation assets are present across the world in the disability sector that are ready to scale. Those assets lie primarily in a new generation of leaders with access points to the disability experience and community leveraging evidence-based methodologies to effectuate entrepreneurs’ success in go-to-market and scaling new technologies and solutions with high impact potential.
The identified assets in this report show significant opportunity in the near-term future to multiply impact across the world by increasing the total number of investable disability tech companies. Yet, their progress in doing so depends on access to flexible, multi-year financial capital and deep networks and the resolve of public systems to remove systemic barriers to entrepreneurship and full financial inclusion for people with disabilities.
The disability innovation ecosystem exhibits promising signs of growth, marked by rising social and financial investments, attracting diverse stakeholders, and benefiting from robust Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs). Village Capital's evaluation parallels thriving innovation ecosystems globally, highlighting the sector's potential to foster scalable, impact-driven startups.
The Moonshot Initiative in Phases II and III is designed to provide direct funding and support for 10 global accelerators and early-stage entrepreneurs to prepare them for investment by Enable Ventures and other venture funds seeking market-rate, risk-adjusted returns at the intersection of disability and tech innovation.
SmartJob is an impact consultant, ecosystem builder and early-stage scout for Enable Ventures, an impact venture fund focused on investing in and scaling early-stage companies that leverage disability as an asset. SmartJob aims to unleash untapped economic potential through products and services powered by inclusive and universal design. Enable Ventures is backed by the Sorenson Impact Group.
“For too long, the disability community has been overlooked by capital markets,” said Bryan Gill, Global Head of the Office of Disability Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. “This Moonshot Initiative will help to create an investable marketplace in disability innovation, which should have broad effects on the availability of accessible, inclusive technology for people with disabilities. We are proud to be the anchor sponsor for the Moonshot Initiative and are encouraged by the learnings from this new research.”
“We are incredibly grateful for JPMorgan Chase’s support of the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative. Their anchor commitment recognizes the enormous value people with disabilities will unlock for society when their innovations are met with financial support in the coming decades,” said Regina “Gina” Kline, SmartJob Founder and Chair and Managing Partner of Enable Ventures.
“For the first time in history, there is a nexus of rising societal expectations, rapidly advancing technological innovation and significant capital earmarked to build an inclusive economy. The workplace and capital markets can no longer afford to ignore people with disabilities.”
Kline added: “Our CGI Commitment to Action, the Moonshot Initiative, will ensure that accelerator partners around the world have the financial support to enable early-stage enterprises with game-changing tech innovations to become investment-ready. We are incredibly grateful to CGI for its leadership in bringing this groundbreaking initiative to its world-class convening and amplifying the message of a rising class of innovators with disabilities worldwide and those working as leaders in the global disability tech market. And we are thankful to our partners, including Village Capital, for the new research the Moonshot Initiative has produced.”
The disability population currently experiences crisis-level unemployment and a lack of capital investment in early-stage solutions. According to the United Nations, 1.5 billion people globally live with disabilities, which is almost 20 percent of the world’s population. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s working-age persons with disabilities are not employed. All in all, the global GDP loses an estimated $1.9 trillion annually due to the exclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.
Additionally, more than 2.5 billion people would benefit from assistive products. People with disabilities, alongside their friends and family, control over $13 trillion in global disposable income. The U.S. assistive tech market will be valued at $26 billion by 2024. The global disability community is expected to increase from 1.5 billion people to 3.5 billion by 2050 as populations age and the rate of non-communicable diseases rises.
“The disability market is massively underserved and undercapitalized. I know from my own experience as an entrepreneur that investing in disability-related innovations can be profitable and personally enriching,” said Jim Sorenson, President and founder of the Sorenson Impact Group.
“I am thrilled that the Moonshot Initiative has received anchor financial backing from JPMorgan Chase, whom I commend for their foresight in recognizing the enormous innovation taking place at the intersection of disability and the potential to turn these many great ideas into investible transformational products and services for us all.”
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About the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative
The Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative aims to support 10 accelerators in eight different countries. The Moonshot Initiative will identify and support cohorts in these accelerators that will, in turn, aim to support and mentor approximately 220 early-stage companies across the globe. In addition, the Initiative plans to deploy catalytic, seed-stage investments into companies in the Moonshot’s accelerator cohorts.
Examples of the global accelerators that the Moonshot Initiative intends to support are:
· Global Centre of Possibility (NZ) | Minnie Baragwanath
· Access to Success Accelerator (CAN) | Varun Chandak
· AT Innovate Now (KE) | Bernard Chiira
· Multiple Accelerator |Dan Feschbach and Heidi Kershaw
· Remarkable Accelerator (AUST) | Pete Horsley; (US) | Molly Levitt
· AssisTech Foundation (IN) | Prateek Madhav
· 2-Gether International (US) | Diego Mariscal
· Synergies Work i2i Incubator (US) | Aarti Sahgal
· Communication Service for the Deaf – Social Venture Fund Incubator (US) | Rosa Lee Timm and Greg Bland
The Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative is a fiscally sponsored project of the New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity.
SmartJob serves as the impact consultant for the Moonshot Initiative. In this role, SmartJob makes recommendations to deploy philanthropic capital to global accelerators and to early-stage companies that the Initiative’s accelerators have supported. The companies that will comprise the accelerator cohorts will require very early investment to reach commercial viability. This kind of high-risk capital is catalytic and crucial to early-stage companies bridging the pioneer gap before they enter subsequent rounds of venture capital funding.
About Smart Job
SmartJob is a global company dedicated to closing the disability wealth gap by catalyzing employment through innovation. It serves as a first-of-its-kind impact consultant that scouts, sources, advises, and supports social entrepreneurs and early-stage companies committed to and focused on profound disability impact. Established in 2020, SmartJob supports Enable Ventures, the first Impact Venture Fund dedicated to closing the disability wealth gap while achieving competitive, market-rate returns. SmartJob is led by its founder, Regina “Gina” Kline, the investor, entrepreneur, and civil rights lawyer, and a 14-person advisory board that brings together skills and lived experience from disability policy, disability advocacy, investing, technology and the impact economy. For more information, please visit https://www.smartjob.net/.
About Enable Ventures Enable Ventures is the first impact venture fund dedicated to closing the disability wealth gap while achieving competitive, market-rate returns. Enable Ventures is led by Regina “Gina” Kline, the investor, entrepreneur, and civil rights lawyer and supported by SmartJob, a platform to attract disability deal flow and support and build the disability innovation ecosystem. Enable Ventures is part of the Sorenson Impact Platform of Funds and is backed by world-renowned entrepreneur, business leader, and societal innovator Jim Sorenson and Sorenson Impact’s vast, world-class experience in impact and market-rate investment. For more information, please visit www.enableventures.vc.
About Sorenson Impact Group
The Sorenson Impact Group, founded by Jim Sorenson, is a multidisciplinary organization focused on catalyzing intentional, scalable and equitable investing to help solve complex, global social and environmental challenges. We strive to foster an investment ecosystem that aligns mission and values with market-rate, risk-adjusted returns. Sorenson Impact Group stands unique as a multidisciplinary impact organization that can offer a full spectrum of solutions that the impact marketplace needs to grow and flourish. Our organization includes the Sorenson Impact Center, which is housed at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business; the Sorenson Impact Foundation, which is one hundred percent mission aligned; Sorenson Impact Advisory; and Sorenson Impact Asset Management, which focuses on delivering market-rate risk-adjusted returns and intentional impact from investments in impact sectors that have been overlooked or underfunded. To learn more about the Sorenson Impact Group, please visit us at www.sorensonimpact.com.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Founded by President Bill Clinton in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative is a community of doers representing a broad cross section of society and dedicated to the idea that we can accomplish more together than we can apart. Through CGI’s unique model, more than 9,000 organizations have launched more than 3,900 Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable projects and programs.
Learn more about the Clinton Global Initiative and how you can get involved at www.ClintonGlobal.org
About Village Capital
Village Capital is reinventing the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Known for its groundbreaking approaches to supporting founders who are building solutions to emergent social, economic, and environmental challenges, VilCap unlocks critical social and financial capital for early-stage companies to maximize business and impact growth. Since 2009, Village Capital has supported over 1,400 startups that have raised over $5 billion in investment capital. It has made more than 150 investments through its various affiliated funds, including Vilcap Investments, which has invested in 110 peer-selected companies. Over 20,000 entrepreneurs have improved their investment readiness through its network of entrepreneur support organizations and its platform, Abaca. Learn more at www.vilcap.com and follow @villagecapital.