Even though there is a significant population of Indonesians that possess some form of disability, they are still often overlooked or passed over by companies and businesses despite the fact that Indonesia has a law that requires private companies to hire disabled persons to make up at least one percent of their workforce. It is also not because disabled people lack motivation or the required skills; given the opportunity they are just as hardworking and capable as their non-disabled counterparts. There is a lack of awareness and crucial support for people with disabilities to find jobs or thrive in the workplace, and Difalink, an Indonesian startup founded by Ni Komang Ayu Suriani in 2017, was established to address that problem by providing an online platform that assists disabled people in getting the jobs they want and affording them better mobility.
Difalink, formerly known as Diffago, was initially formed with the intention of providing a platform whereby disabled people are able to acquire financial assistance through a crowdfunding system. However, Suriani said that participation in an incubator program run by UnLtd Indonesia and Instellar called Rise Inc. had shown them the limitations of their system while simultaneously exposing the nascent startup to more untapped opportunities and possibilities that can be leveraged on to further support and aid the disabled. They understood that in order to fully help the disabled, the startup will have to go beyond just providing financial assistance; they will have to become a one-stop solutions platform that also links people with disabilities to mobility aids providers, offer them training and education opportunities and help businesses and employers with end to end service. For instance, the startup collaborates with local businesses that provide mobility aids such as Puspadi to match them with the right disabled people that require their equipment through their online platform.
Difalink aims to address 5 sustainable development goals through its platform. Firstly, they want to tackle the poverty cycle faced by people with disabilities by providing a one-stop solutions platform that affords them training and education to further their career prospects, connecting them to people that can offer the right mobility aids, and helping them to get jobs that offer equal pay. Secondly, they want to address social inequality and promote inclusiveness by offering their services to all regardless of age, gender, race, religion, economic standing or disability. Thirdly, the startup wants to promote sustainable economic growth by having disabled persons contribute positively to the workforce with full employment and equal pay. Fourthly, Difalink aims to build and improve educational facilities that serve the needs of the disabled as well as children so that they can be equipped with the knowledge and skills for building a better future for themselves. Lastly, the startup wishes to contribute to the sustainable development of communities and cities by focusing on serving the needs of those in vulnerable positions such as the disabled.
Suriani added that Difalink cooperates with local businesses and companies through their corporate social responsibility programs, which is a beneficial outcome for all parties involved. Still, most companies and businesses only address the surface issue and do not go deeper into the problem, and this is where the disability-focused startup steps in so as to raise awareness about disabilities and connect these organizations and companies to suitable disabled people with the proper skills.
Difalink is part of a new wave of enterprising startups in Southeast Asia that aims to foster inclusiveness and raise awareness of people with disabilities in their local communities and countries. True to its motto, the startup will continue to ignite abilities and light a path forward for people with disabilities to empower themselves.