Hi, I'm Nicholas and my partner's name is Clara. We started Ayudar together a few months ago and we thought we should tell you why.
Before Ayudar - The Pandemic
Back in February 2020, Clara and I were happily living together in Northcote. Clara was working as a disability support worker for a mid-sized Melbourne disability provider. She was working with groups of participants at one of their Melbourne locations.
I was in the process of starting a business that helped enterprises with their web-development and content marketing.
Then the dreaded pandemic hit. In hindsight, I'm not sure I could have picked a worse time to start an enterprise IT business! It's hard trying to sell to enterprises when no one is at their offices anymore or even want to spend money with the uncertainty.
The first lockdown saw Clara's shifts at work slowly dry up. Clara is originally from Colombia and her student visa meant she couldn't qualify for any Jobkeeper or Jobseeker. Even worse, the disability provider she worked for gave most of their shifts to those employees who did qualify for Jobkeeper.
Clara was also in her final year of a Diploma in Community Services and was paying international student fees. We're grateful to the Victorian government for providing about 25% of her fees under the International Student Emergency Relief Fund.
I was personally very disappointed in how her TAFE acted though. Besides giving a small extension of time, they basically did nothing to help her. Worse still, when her fees became due, she received multiple threats from them and no more extensions. These threats included her visa being potentially canceled as a result of not paying. This would have resulted in her being forced to leave the country and me.
We were in a bit of a financial pickle. I tried to negotiate a temporarily lowered rate with our real estate agent but they made it extremely difficult. I don't blame the real estate agent. I'm sure they were dealing with a lot of other tenants in similar situations. We sadly had to move out of Northcote home.
Clara is someone who just wants to help people. She loved her job and she would have kept doing it with that provider if she could have. To her credit, she didn't sit around feeling sorry for herself and her situation. She started working every day to get out of the situation with me and Ayudar was born.
Originally, I was only going to help Clara with a website and digital marketing to get some clients. My enterprise IT business was non-existent, so I had the time. Two things however made me decide to be a co-founder with her.
Firstly, I enjoyed working with her and we had a good mix of skills. Clara is experienced at working with participants and she really cares about them. She doesn't just show up for a shift. She really wants to be there. My skills are in creating new businesses that are driven by technology, so I could handle the business side of things. I think we are a good combination for each other and spending more time with her is a plus.
Secondly, after doing research into the disability sector and discussing things with Clara, it became clear that there are problems that need solving. We think we can create some digital and non-digital solutions to these problems.
Here are some problems we think Ayudar can work on solving in the disability sector:
Making sure participants are actively working on and achieving their NDIS goals.
Improving the communication between carers, support workers and disability providers.
Providing pathways for participants to start their own businesses/micro-enterprises.
Improving conditions for support workers: safety, pay, training, mental health etc.
Our Vision for Ayudar
Ayudar means 'to help' in Spanish. The name draws on Clara's Colombian heritage and really says what we're about.
We've done a lot of brainstorming and we think the best way to help people is to help them to find more purpose in their lives. It can be anything like learning to cook, starting a micro-enterprise or joining a social group. That's how we arrived at our mission:
Our mission is to help people with disability in our community find their purpose in life.
We've also thought a lot about the values we see for Ayudar what we look for in our staff:
Be someone who really cares about people and is not selfish.
Be part of the community.
Be the change that you want to see.
Thanks for reading a little bit about our story! We want to hear from you. Have you had any problems in the disability sector that you want changed? You can contact us below.