‘Ctalents is a good fit with our Social Entrepreneurship program. Entrepreneurs like Sandra show that people with a visual or auditory impairment can still participate in the job market, for example by introducing supporting tools or by assisting employers who hire the target group. And eventually, it’ll become the ‘new normal’.”

Nynke Struik, Program Manager for Social Entrepeneurship at Rabo Foundation

Ctalents helps the
sensory impaired find jobs

Unemployment is sky-high among people with a visual or auditory impairment. The social enterprise Ctalents is determined to change that. ‘My dream is that we won’t be needed 10 years from now.’

Ctalents. “You’re talking about almost 400,000 people, who are just as intelligent as the average Dutch person. Plus, new technology offers plenty of options to mitigate their disabilities.”

Dining in the dark
Sandra opened the restaurant Ctaste in 2008. The guests dine in the dark, and are served by people with a visual impairment. “That’s when I saw what blind or visually impaired people were able to do, but also the scale of the unemployment problem. One employer hiring a few extra people is just a drop in the bucket. A lot more companies are needed to make a real difference.” So in 2017, Sandra founded Ctalents, an organization that focuses on recruitment, selection, and temporary staffing of people with a sensory impairment. “We look at what people can do, rather than what they can’t. And then we link what they can offer to the demand in the market.”

Deaf baristas
Ctalents’ approach is multi-faceted. “At our academy, people first complete an assessment to identify their possibilities. Then they attend specific training courses and workshops. After that, we find a suitable paid position for them in a commercial company. For example, deaf people who don’t have higher education or vocational training can be trained as a barista, then go to work in the special Sign Language Coffee Bars.”

Ctalents also supports employers that would like to hire people with a sensory impairment. “We help the organizations make the necessary adjustments, like the introduction of speech recognition software or the use of interpreters. We also assist them in applying for the compensation that they’re entitled to.”

Raising awareness
Ctalents’ ambition is to reduce unemployment among the target group to 20 percent. To that end, the organization aims to reach 5,000 people over the next two years, and help 200 find a job. In 2018, 90 percent of the people who had been matched with a job were still employed after a year, and 85 percent were still employed after two years.

Ctalents has received financing from Rabo Foundation since 2017. Sandra: “Thanks in part to that loan, our talent matchers were able to attend a training course where they learned about the various aids and tools available in the market. Rabo Foundation also raises awareness about us among other companies. That helps a lot! Plus, Rabo Foundation provided an introduction to the bank’s HR department, and in 2018 we were able to find jobs at Rabobank for 10 to 15 people.”

Advanced Entrepeneurship
“My dream is that we won’t be needed 10 years from now”, says Sandra about her efforts as a social entrepreneur. “Because by then it’ll be completely normal to offer jobs with market salaries to people with a disability. I think that it’s a real possibility. We as a society started with the introduction of women’s toilets and maternity leave, so we should be able to do this as well.”

But she adds that people shouldn’t underestimate social entrepreneurship. “It’s actually a crash-course in Advanced Entrepreneurship. You have to work really hard, and often for a lot less money. I’d recommend that you only start once you have three paying clients. Because many potential clients like the idea of social entrepreneurs in general, but when you ask them if they’re actually willing to pay for your service or product, and to sign a contract to that effect, then that’s when they actually stop and think about the concept. Sometimes they’ll tell you why they don’t want to do business with you, and that’s always a learning experience.”


First, some uncomfortable statistics: around 65 percent of Dutch people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired are not in paid employment. “That’s an absurd situation”, says Sandra Balij, founder of

The Netherlands / social entrepeneurship

Opportunities in the labour market

for people with 
sensory impairment



Number of people started in
job guidance traject
2017

3

Number of people started in job guidance traject
2018

50

growth organization

60%

The Netherlands / social entrepeneurship

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First, some uncomfortable statistics: around 65 percent of Dutch people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired are not in paid employment. “That’s an absurd situation”, says Sandra Balij, founder of

Ctalents. “You’re talking about almost 400,000 people, who are just as intelligent as the average Dutch person. Plus, new technology offers plenty of options to mitigate their disabilities.”

Dining in the dark
Sandra opened the restaurant Ctaste in 2008. The guests dine in the dark, and are served by people with a visual impairment. “That’s when I saw what blind or visually impaired people were able to do, but also the scale of the unemployment problem. One employer hiring a few extra people is just a drop in the bucket. A lot more companies are needed to make a real difference.” So in 2017, Sandra founded Ctalents, an organization that focuses on recruitment, selection, and temporary staffing of people with a sensory impairment. “We look at what people can do, rather than what they can’t. And then we link what they can offer to the demand in the market.”

Deaf baristas
Ctalents’ approach is multi-faceted. “At our academy, people first complete an assessment to identify their possibilities. Then they attend specific training courses and workshops. After that, we find a suitable paid position for them in a commercial company. For example, deaf people who don’t have higher education or vocational training can be trained as a barista, then go to work in the special Sign Language Coffee Bars.”

Ctalents also supports employers that would like to hire people with a sensory impairment. “We help the organizations make the necessary adjustments, like the introduction of speech recognition software or the use of interpreters. We also assist them in applying for the compensation that they’re entitled to.”

Opportunities in the labour market

for people with 
sensory impairment



Raising awareness
Ctalents’ ambition is to reduce unemployment among the target group to 20 percent. To that end, the organization aims to reach 5,000 people over the next two years, and help 200 find a job. In 2018, 90 percent of the people who had been matched with a job were still employed after a year, and 85 percent were still employed after two years.

Ctalents has received financing from Rabo Foundation since 2017. Sandra: “Thanks in part to that loan, our talent matchers were able to attend a training course where they learned about the various aids and tools available in the market. Rabo Foundation also raises awareness about us among other companies. That helps a lot! Plus, Rabo Foundation provided an introduction to the bank’s HR department, and in 2018 we were able to find jobs at Rabobank for 10 to 15 people.”

Advanced Entrepeneurship
“My dream is that we won’t be needed 10 years from now”, says Sandra about her efforts as a social entrepreneur. “Because by then it’ll be completely normal to offer jobs with market salaries to people with a disability. I think that it’s a real possibility. We as a society started with the introduction of women’s toilets and maternity leave, so we should be able to do this as well.”

But she adds that people shouldn’t underestimate social entrepreneurship. “It’s actually a crash-course in Advanced Entrepreneurship. You have to work really hard, and often for a lot less money. I’d recommend that you only start once you have three paying clients. Because many potential clients like the idea of social entrepreneurs in general, but when you ask them if they’re actually willing to pay for your service or product, and to sign a contract to that effect, then that’s when they actually stop and think about the concept. Sometimes they’ll tell you why they don’t want to do business with you, and that’s always a learning experience.”


‘Ctalents is a good fit with our Social Entrepreneurship program. Entrepreneurs like Sandra show that people with a visual or auditory impairment can still participate in the job market, for example by introducing supporting tools or by assisting employers who hire the target group. And eventually, it’ll become the ‘new normal’.”

Nynke Struik, Program Manager for Social Entrepeneurship at Rabo Foundation