Of the 624,000 people living with disabilities in Azerbaijan, according to Chairman of the State Social Protection Fund Salim Muslumov, over 290,000 are women, and a majority of them are unemployed. Sara Rajabli recognized this issue and sought to address this lack of inclusion in employment for this population.
She founded BUTA Art & Sweets with the mission and vision to:
Reduce unemployment problem of women with special needs by allowing them to work and earn money from home, and change the way people think about women with special needs
Through Sara’s determination, BUTA Art & Sweets has done tremendously well in their first year, successfully empowering 15 women with special needs with the skills necessary to generate their own income and make a living. Her organization was recognized as the first social entrepreneurship business from Azerbaijan that tackles unemployment among women with special needs and partners with over 30 companies and organizations.
Sara’s other initiative, the Social Business Youth Center, targets youth in Azerbaijan with the goal of building their capacity for starting their own social businesses . In seven months, the Center has organized 15 free events on the topics of social entrepreneurship for more than 450 young people in the country, accepting more than 1600 applications, participating in international projects with Latvia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and also partnering with ten organizations.
BUTA Art & Sweets has received national and international acclaim, and has been featured on numerous media platforms:
Now that both of her initiatives are a year old, Sara is ready for the new year and what’s to come. With the success of BUTA Art & Sweets, she is planning to launch a website, expand to regions outside of Baku, and employ more women and single-handedly take on providing more people with special needs opportunities for employment. With the Social Business Youth Center, she aims to launch some long-term projects (such as online mentorship and acceleration programs, social start-up competitions, social entrepreneurship bootcamps, master classes for youth and people with special needs), pursue partnerships with international organizations, and create a membership platform for youth who participate in the Center.