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Meet Boaz Santiago and Minerva Santiago of Picasso Einstein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Boaz Santiago and Minerva Santiago.

Boaz and Minerva, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We truly are like Picasso and Einstein, although that is not how the name of the company came about. Minerva, a special needs planning attorney (clearly Einstein) is very analytical; a planner. Whereas, Boaz, with a psychology background and love for technology, tends to be more “free-spirited” if you will; or Picasso-like. Minerva had been witness, by way of her profession, to way too many families that had adult children with developmental disabilities with no real employment plans for either the immediate or long-term future. Minerva perceived the future of our children, and knew that both boys, due to their autism, may also struggle with traditional employment; particularly our older son, who is, for the most part, non-verbal and experiences seizures. Boaz had already been teaching social entrepreneurship to at-risk youth for many years. It was then that we had an epiphany and realized that our children are ‘at-risk’ too.” Both of us are entrepreneurs so the solution for our boys was a no-brainer: self-employment. Even though we were unsure if they would actually grow up to be self-employed, we were convinced that we could use a small business venture to teach them all of the things they would need to know whether self-employed or traditionally employed, like workmanship, financial literacy, business basics, communication, community (the business kind) and so much more. And even better, we could get started NOW, even though they were only 10 and 12 years old. Fast forward to today and our oldest son will be launching his bike repair website (www.BikeDrDerek.com) next month, just before his 17th birthday.

Naturally, we wanted to share our journey and encourage other individuals and families with developmental disabilities to “think outside the box” and realize YOU too can create your own light at the end of the tunnel. Gradually, we began receiving inquiries from individuals around the world. It seems there are no other programs that offer families the tools they need to support someone with a developmental disability when pursuing self-employment. We are so happy to be able to fill that void. That’s why it was necessary to begin offering our educational programs and resources via an online platform; in order to share “The #JobCreators Movement” with families and individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the globe.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Initially, we began offering self-employment educational programs to teens and young adults with developmental disabilities. Like any business, through trial and error we’ve made some changes along the way. The students we worked with were absolutely AMAZING and with the right supports, were very capable of being successfully self-employed. We became incredibly frustrated when we realized these students were going home to families that were not fully supportive of self-employment. Some could not at that time, see the potential in their children, while others were simply not familiar with self-employment and could not think beyond traditional means of employment. So, we realized that in order for any self-employment program to be sustainable and successful, we needed the full buy-in from the parents and caregivers. Working with the students was a piece of cake; we knew they had the potential. Now working with the families; that’s a tough nut to crack.

For this reason, we decided to write a new curriculum, 100% focused on parents, caregivers and professionals interested in assisting someone with developmental disabilities in pursuing self-employment. This completely revolutionized our educational programs, because we were now, and continue to be, focused on educating parents, caregivers and professionals.

Please tell us about Picasso Einstein.
We understand that self-employment is not the right fit for all individuals with developmental disabilities. However, our focus is to provide awareness, information, and tools so that self-employment is at a minimum, offered as a viable option. Individuals with developmental disabilities should have the opportunity to pursue MEANINGFUL employment by way of self-employment. They simply deserve choices like all of us. It is not only their civic right, it is their basic human right. Picasso Einstein provides families and professionals with the resources and guidance they need to help these individuals pursue and reach the greatest level of independence they will ever know.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
We found this to be an interesting question as it is really not relevant to the Picasso Einstein story. If we had to answer, we would say “simplicity” is our favorite memory from our childhood. It is not one moment in time that stands out for us but rather, the pure joy of living without the complications of life.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Picasso Einstein LLC

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