An award-winning chocolate brand that creates opportunity and employment for people with autism.
A route to employment
Mona and Shaz Shah’s son Ash, has autism. After finding out his diagnosis, Mona and Shaz did what any parents would do – they researched how it would affect his life. They discovered that only 15 percent of the 350,000 people with autism of working age in the UK are in full-time employment. Shocked, they set out to create a business that would support not only their son but hundreds of other adults living with autism.
Since 2012, Harry Specters has been award-winning chocolates and creating work experience and employment opportunities for young people with autism at their Cambridge HQ.
Chocolate with a conscience
Mona came up with the idea of combining her love for chocolate and desire to improve the lives of people with autism in the summer of 2011. At the time, Shaz was studying for an executive MBA which helped to structure the business and Ash came up with the name – it was a real family affair.
With over 15 years of chocolate making experience, Mona and team’s chocolates have been awarded a three star rating at the Great Taste awards, the Oscars of the food industry. They use the finest Belgian chocolate, fresh cream and locally sourced ingredients where possible, with flavours like peanut crunch, hazelnut praline and our personal favourite – sea-salt caramel.
People with autism are involved in every aspect of the business. They make, test and package the chocolates, they help design brochures, take photos and make sure the business is running smoothly. It’s a safe and supportive environment that reinvests 60 percent of profits into furthering their social aims and offering activities to their employees.
Harry Specters have worked with more than 30 young people with autism, but they want to reach further. They are currently raising £250,000 to expand their Cambridge HQ and replicate their business models across the UK to help even more people with autism into employment.