Founded in 2010, Puki Design is one of the affiliated company of Shanghai Puki Deaf Coordination Agency (小籠包聾人協力事務所). This is a design studio in form of a Social Enterprise providing career opportunities to be trained to become a real designer for the deaf that have already had proper skill of training in government training centre. This is the first and the only one in China.
When a deaf design trainee might not have an equal and same opportunity with healthy one, Puki Design would employ affordable number of these trainees for a certain length of training period. They can work with regular design projects from large corporations to gain on-the-job training under supervision of superior design director. After that, they would “graduate” and are ready to work in regular designing junior position in collaborating corporations. These collaborating corporations include TaoMee Interactive platform (www.61.com), Ctrip Traveling Network (www.ctrip.com), The 9 Gaming Community Network (www.the9.com), etc.
A 1+1 Internship Plan is another main stream of Puki Design. They would sign agreements with corporations to provide internship for every one regular design student, they must provide another internship opening for a deaf design trainee. The third main stream is to promote sign language by publishing illustration albums collaborated with different renowned artistes. They want to educate regular citizens to know more about the deaf and their lives.
There is a global trend that corporations are more emphasizing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), either employing the under-privileged or subcontracting projects to Social Enterprises. So there should be great chances for these social enterprises to sustain in long-term operation. Their ultimate aim is to operate without the monetary help from the Government and any types of donation.
The problem is that there are a few categories of the under-privileged belonging to more under-privileging groups than the others, such as the deaf who looks healthy in usual conditions. Another example is young unmarried mothers. Drezier Communications had been working for a Social Enterprise for these group of young unmarried mothers. They are perfectly healthy, but have usually low education level due to quitting from school in pregnancy period. After their babies born, their times are occupied by their babies. Worst of all, the society might think that they are not inborn under-privileged and lower their priority of wishes to help.
Despite of the feeling of the society, do deaf designers have any edges? According to corporations’ feedback to Puki Design, these trainees may not have an equivalent ability of design and communication. But they have much better concentration endurance and thus faster learning curve. If they can keep on improving themselves, they definitely are capable to accomplish junior design positions. However, their rate of permanent employment after “graduation” is merely more than 9%. From 2010 to 2013, there is a total of 300+ “graduates”. Only 30 were permanently employed.
Frankly, Drezier is thinking of entrepreneurship of a Social Enterprise for the Deaf. There are a lots of problems to tackle:
- Is there enough fundamental training of design currently in the society?
- If not, how do we engaged to improve the training?
- How do we select suitable trainees without much hard feeling projected to uninvited candidates?
- How long should the training we provide be?
- How do we prolong our help after “graduation”?
In order to help more deaf trainees, Puki Design cooperated with Shanghai Xuhui District Avocational University and Taobao University in 2013. They organized a “soundless” curriculum to further expand recognition in design industry and among corporations. They projected to help more deaf design trainees that can be engaged in eCommerce.
Undoubtedly, Social Enterprises’ activity is a solution and global trend in helping the under-privileged by non-government organizations in every part of the World, including China.