by ADN

February 10, 2015

HarrySCambridge, UK — Just like any other parent of a child with autism, Shaz Shah and his wife, Mona, worried about what the future brings for their child. According to the National Autistic Society, out of 350,000 individuals with autism, only 15 per cent are employed.

Anxious about the future of their 16-year-old, Ash— who has been diagnosed with autism at an early age— Mr. And. Mrs. Shah were desperate to come up with something that would help secure their son’s future.

While vacationing in Scotland years back, the couple found a solution. A business involved in both the making and selling of chocolates showed the Shahs that individuals on the spectrum can get involved in every facet of a venture of this kind.

Autism Daily Newscast covered last reported on the Cambridge-based chocolate company in October. Harry Specters crowdfunding to create hundreds of jobs for people with autism.

Not long after that, the couple made a business plan for a social enterprise that would focus on creating the products and marketing them on line.

The Shahs found that individuals on the spectrum made great workers for the company.

“Throughout our journey, we have found [they] have great attention to detail and are very loyal, which makes them wonderful workers,”

said Mr. Shah. The company, which they named Harry Specters— a named coined by their son, Ash— involved a lot of advanced planning to make sure that the workers on the spectrum would have a working environment that would best suit them.

“It is well-known that people with autism like a structured work environment; they do not like surprises,”

said Mr. Shah. At the time they were planning the business, Mr. Shah was still taking up a course for an executive MBA at the Cranfield School of Management. This would later on prove to be of great help in planning and running Harry Specters. He said:

“The executive MBA helped tremendously as it gave me the tools I needed for business,”

The Shahs also made use of Cranfield’s “blue ocean” strategy which was aimed at making competitions for a business irrelevant.

For every £1 Harry Specter makes, 60 percent of this was set aside for the business’ charities.

The company aims to expand within the next two years, and is planning to hire more workers on the spectrum by the end of 2016.

Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta

Source: Jonathan Moules on the Financial Times website:  Chocolate entrepreneurs with a social aim

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