Growing a future

Growing a future

Taking an entrepreneurial approach to gainful employment for those with special needs.

What do you do in a world where finding a job as a young person is tough, especially when you have high functioning autism? Instead of looking to Work & Income to find him a job, Faisal Al-Harran, 22, with the help of his father Saad (who left his home country of Iraq in 1974, and moved to New Zealand in 1996), has flipped the traditional model on its head by taking the entrepreneurial approach and creating his own job and business opportunity, growing hydroponic vegetables in the back yard.

The Al-Harran’s plan for it to be a case study of social business success, one they hope will inspire and empower others. 

Seven years ago Saad created the model ‘Global Sharing and Caring Social Business Enterprise Centre (GSCSBEC) for youth with special needs in Brunei Darussalam, as a charity project to empower them. The project, which is unfinished, began when Saad was lecturing in Micro-Finance Enterprise at University Brunei Darussalam (Faculty of Business, Economics and Policy Studies), and in particular Musharakah Financing – a form of partnership where two or more persons combine either their capital or labour to share the profits and losses, and enjoy similar rights and liabilities.

Taking this approach, Saad and Faisal have joined forces with Manawatu greenhouse business expert Wally Richards, who has installed Wallys Hydro Flow Growing system in the Al-Harran’s greenhouse. 

Their hope, once they succeed with the greenhouse business venture, is to share the experience with others and welcome more youth with special needs to join them (email [email protected] for information on how to get involved).

“These youth with special needs are great assets in the community as well as in building our nation but sadly most of them are in unproductive work,” says Saad. “We, as human beings, need to accept each other and celebrate our differences in thoughts and opinions, in cultures and ethnicity and this is what the beauty of life is all about.”


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