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By Luis Pereira

Celebrating 95 years of unwavering commitment to its mission, Blindes Arbejde has been at the forefront of inclusivity and empowerment for almost a century. As the organization commemorates this milestone, it’s also a moment of reflection on the remarkable journey they’ve traversed, marked by resilience, innovation, and a steadfast dedication to creating opportunities for individuals with visual impairments.

Among the highlights of this celebratory year is the 25th anniversary of the Aarhus branch, a testament to the enduring impact of Blindes Arbejde in communities across Denmark. Scheduled for June, a jubilant event is in the works, with the highly regarded presence of Anders Winnerskjold, the Aarhus Kommune’ Councilor for Social Affairs and Employment, adding significance to the occasion.

Photographed by Tia Borgsmidt Styled by Mona Hald Bjerrehuus Shoe cleaning kit

As Blindes Arbejde continues to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape, notable developments in their infrastructure and operations have come to the fore. In a strategic move to enhance accessibility and visibility, the Aarhus store underwent a significant transformation, relocating to a more central area on Frederiksgade. This move, enhanced by a retail designer, breathes new life into the store after 24 years in its previous location. Similarly, the Copenhagen branch underwent a makeover in October, revitalizing its appeal and ensuring a cohesive brand experience across all locations. The relocation of the Aarhus store to a more prominent location has yielded tangible benefits, with an influx of new customers bolstering demand for products and services. Furthermore, leveraging the power of social media, Blindes Arbejde has amplified its outreach efforts, garnering attention from a diverse audience and expanding its customer base.

A noteworthy endorsement from visitAarhus, a branch of the Kommune, further solidifies Blindes Arbejde’s reputation as a destination for quality goods and social impact. With descriptions featured in multiple languages, the organization’s visibility receives a significant boost, potentially translating into increased sales and foot traffic. Kristin, the CEO, attributes the uptick in customer engagement to a multifaceted approach that emphasizes trust, social responsibility, as well as environmental stewardship.

Resilience through the decades
Despite these changes, the organization’s economic foundation remains steadfast, anchored in the sale of products and services. While the annual turnover holds steady at 10 million kroner, recent investments in store renovations have temporarily impacted profitability, resulting in a slight downturn. However, these investments are poised to yield long-term dividends, positioning Blindes Arbejde for sustained growth and success in the years to come. However, these investments are poised to yield long-term dividends, positioning Blindes Arbejde for sustained growth and success.

Continuous Growth
The growth trajectory of Blindes Arbejde is evident in their expanded workforce, with 67 individuals currently employed — a notable increase from the previous year. Among them, 10 are regular employees, reflecting a steady rise in sustainable employment opportunities. Additionally, 18 individuals hold flexible positions, 2 benefit from wage subsidies, and 36 are engaged under the Service Act, reaffirming the organization’s role as a champion of inclusivity and accessibility in the labor market. Most impressively, 81% of these employees are either blind or visually impaired, underscoring Blindes Arbejde’s unwavering commitment to serving its target demographic.

Styled by Elsebeth Spangsberg Bike brush mixed fibres

In the pursuit of their core objective to empower individuals with visual disabilities, Blindes Arbejde has embarked on new endeavors aimed at providing comprehensive support beyond employment opportunities. While recognizing that they can’t employ everyone, the organization has expanded its efforts to offer vocational courses, equipping individuals with valuable skills in craftsmanship, storage management, retail operations, and sales. This holistic approach ensures that every individual who walks through their doors finds avenues for personal and professional growth.

Central to the success of Blindes Arbejde is its unique approach to skills development, epitomized by the master-apprentice model. Drawing upon the wealth of experience within its workforce, the organization fosters a culture of mentorship and knowledge transfer, with seasoned craftsmen—who are themselves visually impaired—serving as mentors. This symbiotic relationship not only imparts technical skills but also fosters a sense of community and solidarity among employees, nurturing a supportive ecosystem where everyone can contribute and thrive.

Talent development
One notable stride forward is the initiative to craft small furniture, marking a departure from their traditional focus on repairs. This initiative underscores the organization’s commitment to innovation and diversification, propelling them into new horizons while staying true to their founding principles.

Internship programs continue to be a cornerstone of Blindes Arbejde’s approach to talent development, providing invaluable hands-on experience to aspiring individuals. What sets these internships apart is the organization’s steadfast commitment to converting successful placements into permanent employment opportunities, ensuring that talent is nurtured and empowered to thrive.

Values that persist through time
As Blindes Arbejde charts a course into the future, their unwavering commitment to social and environmental sustainability remains steadfast. Embracing the principles of ‘people, planet, and profit,’ the organization continues to integrate sustainability into every aspect of its operations, ensuring that its impact resonates far beyond the confines of its workshops and stores.

Likewise, central to Blindes Arbejde’s success is its unwavering commitment to branding and storytelling, effectively communicating its values and mission to a wider audience. Through a diverse array of channels, including events, fairs, and local publications, the organization fosters meaningful connections with customers and stakeholders alike. Kristin, the Director,underscores the importance of authenticity and purpose-driven engagement, urging fellow social entrepreneurs to align themselves with organizations, partnerships, and teams that share their vision and values.
As they celebrate 95 years of transformative impact, Blindes Arbejde looks towards the future with optimism and determination, poised to continue shaping a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their abilities.

As Blindes Arbejde charts a course forward, the organization remains steadfast in its dedication to creating opportunities and fostering inclusion. With a clear focus on innovation, sustainability, and community engagement, Blindes Arbejde stands poised to build upon its rich legacy and continue making a meaningful impact for generations to come.

Blindes Arbejde’s Facts
Year of foundation –  1929
Location –  Aarhus, Horsens, Odense, Copenhagen
Area – Retail, technical training
Mission – To create jobs for the blind or severely visually impaired people
Products – Household handmade crafts, Gifts and souvenirs, Customized services, paper cord chairs repair, special products for companies.
Number of employees – 67
Yearly turnover – 11 million DKK
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