When he tried to hire a voice-over artist and a model with disabilities for a leading corporate entity, Vineet Saraiwala struggled to find anybody. Disappointed, Vineet envisioned a platform where persons with disabilities could showcase their talent and find employment with ease. The vision gave birth to Atypical Advantage. Today, partnering with Flipkart Samarth, Atypical Advantage sells artworks and products made by people with disabilities to customers across the country. We spoke to Vineet as Atypical Advantage gears up for their first-ever The Big Billion Days sale. Here’s their story.
My name is Vineet Saraiwala. Our organization is Atypical Advantage and we are India’s largest inclusive platform to generate livelihoods for persons with disabilities. Our work is driven by the sole desire of empowering persons with disabilities and getting them the opportunities they truly deserve by showcasing their talent and not their disability. Using our platform, anyone can hire individuals, book performing artists, and even buy artwork. I became a Flipkart Samarth seller to bridge the gap between the job market scenario for people with disabilities and enable them to have better livelihoods. We list artworks and other products on Flipkart.
We joined hands with Flipkart Samarth in July, 2021. We are very grateful to Flipkart for hosting our products online. When a person with a disability looks at their painting displayed on Flipkart, it gives them confidence and allows their passion to become their purpose. Just seeing their artwork on Flipkart is in itself a joy. When a buyer looks at these products on Flipkart, they are sensitized to the work of the people with disabilities. This is what we need in society, to see and characterize an individual with their abilities, and not sympathy simply because of disability. With Flipkart, these artists also have access to a pan-India market, helping them make better livelihoods. We sell artworks made by hundreds of artists with disabilities. The artworks are categorized into 15 different categories such as still life, wildlife, portraits, and more.
My personal experience with Atypical Advantage has been amazing. Being disabled myself, I understood the problems of other people with disabilities at a deeper level, and I think ultimately the real awareness comes through economic livelihood. There is no process in our country to understand what type of jobs are available for people with disabilities. It is a social venture with a sustainable future. I myself have 10% of my vision remaining, hence I understand what other people with disabilities are going through. After working in a corporation for 6 months, I wanted to do something for a cause and give back to society. I consider myself privileged enough to have safety nets in place so I take such steps for society.
During COVID-19, artists have really struggled. An experience that doesn’t fail to amaze me even today is during those difficult times, there were artists with disabilities who were willing to donate their artwork for social causes, and they were artists who paint exceptionally well! India has a pool of talented artists with disabilities. Our goal is to give them a platform and give them the chance to display their products online and get them sold.
We have talent scouts who help us connect with people with disabilities and we also run an Atypical Advantage accelerator program, where we collaborate with different NGOs who are involved in skill development. We look at artworks created by persons with disabilities and then make an informed decision. We also have various experts to help us with this.
Flipkart has already helped us broaden our horizons and access customers across the nation. So we are very excited to see how much more we can do with The Big Billion Days sale. This would be our first time being part of a sale this big. We are going to list our catalogs with various festive lineups in a few days. We have more than 100 artisans showing human diversity through their artwork on Flipkart.
The artists have focused on their strengths and put their heart and soul into these artworks, and you can see their struggle reflected in their work.
As told to Jishnu Murali with additional inputs from Rahul Gupta Roy