The SEIF Awards 2016 are coming…

…mitschaffe.ch, winner of the Award for Integration & Prevention 2015, tell us about their experience.

Finding a job can be a job in itself. The time and effort one ought to put into it can consume one’s day, and energy, especially when rejections come in pairs. But finding work is particularly difficult for people with disabilities, partly due to society’s misconceptions about what people with disabilities can and cannot do.

Aware of this, Thomas and Barbara Bräm decided to found in 2013 mitschaffe.ch, a job agency for people with physical or mental disabilities with a difference: besides taking care of the administration and supporting the job search of their clients, mitschaffe.ch also offers potential employers training and advice on how to facilitate the integration of this mainly but hugely important untapped section of the job market.

Focusing in canton Schaffhausen and only one year after they started their operation, mitschaffe.ch has already placed 40 people with disabilities in new jobs.

Five months after winning the SEIF Award for Integration & Prevention, we catch up with them to find out how they found the experience and what has changed since them.

Why did you decide to apply for the SEIF Awards?

Our business idea got very good feedback at the final pitch of SEIF’s Business Development seminar, and this persuaded us to apply for the SEIF Awards 2015.

How did you spend the money you won at the SEIF Awards?

We used the prize money to expand. Thanks to the money we were able to attract new companies on board and use mitschaffe.ch for their staff needs, which in turn help us finding the dream job for people with disabilities.

What would have happened if you didn’t have that money?

We could need to be more careful with the resources we had and it would certainly mean finding less job opportunities for people.

Would you say that winning the Award gave visibility to your company?

Yes, for sure. We received a lot of feedback at regional and national level, and we published the news in our website and include a banner there too for which we received many encouraging comments. Moreover, the Award helped us when communicating with employers and foundations because the Award acts as a seal of quality. It’s like a label and a vote of confidence on mitschaffe.ch

Did you get media coverage and/or important business contacts as a result of winning the Award?

Yes, the local newspaper and radio station reported on mitschaffe.ch having won the SEIF Award for Integration & Prevention 2015.

Did winning the Award help you getting funding?

We are currently in conversations with a number of investors to scale mitschaffe.ch, although nothing concrete has come out of it yet. Still, we believe that this “label” of having won the SEIF Award helps us during the negotiations with investors.

Do you have any other comment regarding the effect that winning the SEIF Award have in the company?

It has given us huge encouragement. We are happy that a group of experts saw not only the idea but also the business model of mitschaffe.ch worth of support.

Would you recommend social entrepreneurs to take part in the Awards?

Use every opportunity that presents itself to you! For us, the preparation for the pitch and focussing in the essential elements of the business idea and USP was very important and something that still help us today in our presentations and day-to-day business. The critical questions the Jury asked during the pitching session were challenging but helped us to look again mitschaffe.ch and change things. This has strengthened both us and our idea.