In January 2016, the ICRC’s Enable Makeathon brought to life a range of products conceived for improving accessibility for people with disabilities in rural areas. After a 60-day process that started with challenges, incubated ideas and generated marketable products developed with and for people with disabilities, the journey continues. The innovators behind these products are now facing a common obstacle shared by startups, promising businesses and social entrepreneurs all over the world: the financing “valley of death”.

Any business needs capital to get started, but most investors are unwilling to fund companies that do not yet have a proven sales record. Funding an idea, even one that is brilliant on paper, is perceived as too risky. Most startups never launch because they get caught up in the valley of death as they struggle to grow into viable businesses – and when it comes to scaling products or services that are not your latest tech gadget, things can be even harder.

The products developed during the Enable Makeathon can reach a significant number of people through the ICRC. However, the impact of these products can extend beyond the ICRC’s reach, with more than one billion people in the world living with some form of disability. In addition, it is an overlooked multimillion dollar market for investors to seriously consider: according to disability and corporate profitability expert Rich Donovan, people with disabilities and their families and friends account for more than 8 trillion US dollars in global disposable income per year.

We are supporting social entrepreneurs looking for answers to survive the valley of death. On April 21, the ICRC will host a panel discussion during the Sankalp Global Summit 2016 in Mumbai, India,  “Ventures in disability: perspectives, opportunities and challenges”. Discussants will explore how to help the Enable Makeathon innovators reach scale.

Engage with us and take part in the brainstorming. Follow us live from Mumbai on Twitter.