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FemPreneurship Academy – Entrepreneurship as a pathway for women with disabilities and chronic illnesses

That entrepreneurship can be an important driver of job creation, innovation, and social change, and that there is great interest in it was shown by the second FemPreneurship Academy organized by Jamba – Career for All. On the premises of the Expat Center of the Vienna Business Agency on November 20, 2023, the participants, women with disabilities and chronic illnesses, presented their business ideas as the program’s final phase aimed at encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship.


With the support of the partners – the U.S. Embassy Vienna and Vienna Bussines Agency through 8 weeks of the intensive, inclusive, and accessible program, Jamba offered a multidisciplinary perspective covering all areas participants needed to start their own business – from Business Modeling, Marketing, Finance to Public Appearance. The impact on the environment has become a key issue in the business world, which we also addressed through this year’s Academy program.


Trainers and speakers conveyed new knowledge, experiences, and trends at each session of the Academy in addition to theoretical knowledge, the participants practiced applying what they had learned to their own business ideas through work in small groups. One of the goals of the Academy is the further transfer of knowledge and support, as shown by the fact that the project manager of this year’s program, Julia Wallisch, herself was part of the first generation of participants. Today she is successfully developing her entrepreneurial venture.



“Our disability should not determine what we can or cannot do”


Some of the project ideas were already concretized by the participants during the program, and they started the next phase of launching their entrepreneurial venture.


Nathalie‘s story is related to communications and aims to promote people with disabilities. Her lectures and individual sessions would show which communication strategies are available and how one can articulate the topic of disability and one’s accompanying needs. Her project aims to provide learning tools that will help people to argue persuasively in conversation and to present themselves authentically and confidently. “For some time now, I have wanted to develop my career and do something in the context of self-employment. However, I had difficulty concretizing my ideas and making important decisions. Through this program, it was not only a great help to me through new knowledge and information about employment and building a business, but I also met interesting people,” she says.


In the beginning, while presenting her idea, she did not have a clear picture of it. However, the feedback from the trainers and colleagues helped her to develop her ideas and finally make them concrete. “Other women are in a similar situation, they also have disabilities and similar initial situations. It was also exciting to hear what ideas others have,” she shares.


Raising awareness is also vital to Rina, who, guided by the motto “not about us, but with us”, wants to establish the first contact point for queer people with disabilities in Austria, mostly by providing valid information. “There is an incredible amount of misinformation, especially in the field of autism, which is mainly spread by institutions for autistic people. I urgently want to update the state of knowledge, because even diagnostic tools are completely outdated.”


Combining innovative art, books, coffee, and delicious and healthy cakes (natural, gluten-free, unrefined, and anti-inflammatory) through starting a business is also seen by Ariadne, who mainly wanted to learn about the legal and financial aspects of the same, but also how to form a team and offer them good conditions and inclusiveness. “Participation at the Academy offered me to get to know a wide range of important topics in a short time.”


As a translator in the field of culture and art, Nora also wants to bring her business ideas to the highest level. Fully aware of the capabilities of AI and what this brings for translators in terms of challenges and opportunities, she thinks of exploring the best ways to navigate the potential of human and machine collaboration. She finds that automated language translation works immensely but only with loopholes, making authentic translation still critical, especially in specific languages.


Tania, as the Academy progressed, already had two ideas in her mind – on the one hand, she saw herself as a self-employed visual communicator, and on the other hand, as a person who started an inclusive NGO focusing on general support for expats and people from abroad with chronic illnesses. “I learned a lot of new things, and one of them is that an idea must mature in order to develop into a business idea. However, what I loved most about Fempreneurship Academy was the diverse and inclusive group we had. All the stories and women inspired me a lot. I am very enthusiastic about the idea of supporting women with chronic illnesses and disabilities! Our disability should not dictate what we can or cannot do. The feeling that we can also be independent leaders is priceless and needs more space in our society.”


The ethnic and cultural diversity of the trainers and speakers particularly impressed Tania, and seeing and hearing them working on their own business ideas and supporting others was refreshing, inspiring, and completely motivating for her.


The lack of social awareness and misinformation available when communicating about people with disabilities was recognized through their entrepreneurial ideas by all the participants of the Academy. Precisely guided by personal experiences and attempts to find their place in the world of business and work, they led to their need for self-employment, to change the narrative, but also to realize their own capacities. “I was impressed by the words of one of the trainers, who says: ‘There is a special place in heaven for women who help other women to progress and succeed’, Tania concludes. “I will keep them for life.”


The community is the key to entrepreneurship and self-employment, and without question, central to the human experience. For this reason, we at Jamba believe in the potential of our community because – every idea is as important as the perpetual growth of ourselves and our environment. Jamba team is committed to supporting women with disabilities and chronic illnesses as well as their business ideas through this program. 



We look forward to you joining us in the next edition of the Academy!