Auckland social enterprise, Will&Able, may have the ultimate silver lining Covid-19 story. Its mission is to create jobs for people with disabilities and help the environment at the same time.
Its parent organisation, Altus Enterprises, was hit hard by the loss of their work sanitising and repackaging passenger headsets for Air New Zealand’s international flights and had to put off 130 of their workers.
When television programme, Seven Sharp, featured the plight of the remaining workers, Kiwis responded with online orders totalling $140,000 for Will&Able’s environmentally-friendly cleaning products in just 24 hours.
Orders from everywhere
Suddenly their management had a new worry – how to fulfil 13,000 orders coming in at the rate of thousands per day when they were used to just 20 per day. This has now settled down to having up to 150 per day.
Orders arrived with messages of support from people whose hearts were moved by the organisation’s plight and who wanted to support locally-made products and jobs.
Marketing co-ordinator, Maya Jaros, describes the heartfelt response from New Zealanders wanting to support the initiative set up to employ people with various disabilities as amazing.
This was a huge challenge but, sadly, they weren’t able to re-employ all the 130 Altus workers made redundant.
This was because of the higher level of physical work required to hand-fill and pack the cleaning products; however, they were able to contract some of them to help them with jobs, such as packing, boxing and filling.
New full-time job created
Nonetheless, the influx of work has meant the creation of one new full-time position at Will&Able. All workers there are paid the minimum adult wage and do not rely on government benefits or support.
The measure of success is how many jobs are created on the minimum adult wage,” Maya says.
She says the organisation is now in such a hugely different position than before Covid-19 and much closer to being able to employ more people.
“It is now at an interesting crossroads and the start of a lot more,” she says.
South Island centre planned
The country’s response has also prompted plans for setting up a second distribution centre in Christchurch.
Maya says most new customers ordered the popular starter pack of a general cleaner, handwash, dishwash liquid, laundry liquid and toilet cleaner. With the most popular individual products being the handwash and dishwash liquid.
“New customers would be now working through their products and it would be a while before they were reordering,” she says.
Every 250 ongoing subscribers can help sustain one full time job for another person.
“Spread the word and help create more jobs for people with disabilities.”
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Our previous story on Will&Able click here