Maui Aquaponics Workers Cooperative

The unemployment rate for working-age people with disabilities in 2012 was 15%, compared with a rate of 8% for working age individuals without disabilities. This substantial disparity have persisted despite years of technological advances that have made it possible for many people with disabilities to apply for and successfully perform a broad array of jobs.

Unfortunately, significant disability comes stigma and hampers capable working-age people from a broad array of jobs. The attitudinal barriers and other societal hindrance to competitive employment were a significant driver in the start-up of the Maui Aquaponics Workers Cooperative as a for-profit, 100% disability-owned registered cooperative.

The co-op founders began their initial business preparation in 2011 as professional trainees in the University of Hawaii aquaponics technician certification program offered by the Center on Disability Studies, Hawaii Aquaponics Workforce Development intensive. The forward-thinking investment for the training came from the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Adult Mental Health Division of Department of Health.

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