Closing the Disability Employment Gap

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Closing the Disability Employment Gap

People with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s total population, making this group of 1 billion people, the world’s largest minority group¹. Data from the United Nations suggests that people with disabilities in industrialized countries are 50-70% more likely to be unemployed than those living without a disability. The gap significantly widens in developing countries where up to 80-90% of people with disabilities are unemployed ². With news sources around the world reporting an emerging global labour shortage, we have an incredible opportunity to address these issues holistically and identify new solutions that ensure a better and more equitable future for all.

As the world’s largest specialist ophthalmology company, Santen’s goal is to reduce the loss of social and economic opportunities for people with vision impairment globally. Aligned to our goal, Santen is proud to support the Lead2030 Challenge for SDG 8. We are committed to reducing inequity and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for people with disabilities. We want to dedicate our challenge to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and we need action, advocacy and new ideas that will ensure that everyone is given an equitable opportunity to succeed.

Our challenge aims to identify solutions that contribute towards reducing the disability employment gap, focused on solutions that address awareness campaigns, education, recruitment and retention programs, improved policies and practices, technological or policy inequalities and/or inaccessibility. We are seeking young innovators who are leading sustainable, market-ready and scalable solutions which have demonstrated meaningful impact for the employability of people with disabilities.

Our challenge welcomes innovative and inclusive solutions that are:

  • Focused on technologies, products which enable greater accessibility to persons with disabilities to achieve improved educational outcomes and full and productive employment and decent work.
  • Promoting reforms, and/or advocacy that will drive the changes necessary to unlock employment opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve equal pay for work of equal value.
  • Services, solutions and/or initiatives that value add at any stage of the employment lifecycle for example education, recruitment, on-boarding, physical and virtual working environment, training, career development
  • As the world’s largest specialist ophthalmology company, we would love to support solutions that in some way address employment inclusion for people with vision impairment, as well as other critical disability categories.

1) United Nations - Factsheet on Persons with Disabilities

2) United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Disability

Challenge crtieria


Aligned: Evidently aligned with the Lead2030 Challenge for SDG 8 supported by Santen. See ‘About’.

Youth-led: Founded by a person aged 18 – 30.

Focused: Well-structured time horizon, identified key stakeholders and beneficiaries, and proposed outcomes that are reasonable and well thought out.

Market ready: Product/service already in market or ready to go to market.

Impactful: Solutions must have a positive social impact, for example generating employment, or developing skills.

Measurable: Impacts of solutions must have been adequately measured and/or be measurable.

Financially viable: Must be able to achieve efficiency and to survive independently through the resources they generate and/or the investments and donations they attract.

Scalable: Potential to perform as well or better after expanding in scope or size and/or being transported to other regions.



The winning solution will receive:

  • Sponsorship to participate in the One Young World Summit 2022 in Manchester from 5 to 8 September
  • A US$50,000 grant from Santen
  • 12 months of mentorship from a team of Santen professionals. The mentorship team will work to accelerate your solution based on the needs of your initiative or organisation, such as:
    • Business strategy
    • Best practices for data collection
    • Monitoring and evaluation
    • Product design



  • 24 November 2021: Applications open.
  • 10 January 2022: Applications close.
  • 17 January 2022: Shortlisted candidates confirmed.
  • 7 March 2022: Lead2030 Challenge Winner confirmed. 
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Welcome to the application form for this Lead2030 Challenge.

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Your Solution and Lead2030

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