• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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US funding supports entrepreneurship training for disabled persons in Nigeria

people with disabilities

Project Enable Africa and Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, advocacy groups for disabled persons’ rights in Nigeria have partnered with the US government to train people with disabilities (PWDs) for employment and promote inclusivity in the job market.

The project, launching today to mark World Labour Day, has received $30,000 in funding from the US government through the US Consul General in Nigeria and is expected to kick off in Abia and Edo state.

70 entrepreneurs with disabilities will be trained with business skills and supported with seed capital to successfully run their businesses in the country.

“When persons with disabilities have jobs, and they can earn money, their dignity is restored and they can become active citizens and also aspire for leadership,” said Olushola Awonikoko, executive director of Project Enable.

The advocacy groups will also seek to engage with civil society government in the states to build their capacity for state implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) law.

A lot of work to be done

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, also known as the National Disability Act was signed into law in 2019 by former president Muhammadu Buhari to ensure equal treatment, opportunities, and inclusion for PWDs.

Since its enactment, the bill has provided some relief and meaningful support for PWDs in Nigeria. However, it has yet to achieve full implementation.

“Over half of the states in Nigeria have the law. But the goal is not having it but implementing it. There’s a lot to be done in terms of building the capacity of key stakeholders to implement those laws,” Awonikoko said.

“Some establishments have zero people with disabilities working for them, so let them even attempt to do 5 percent…The biggest challenge people living with disabilities face is discrimination,” said Kola Olugbodi, director at Project Enable.

Will Stevens, The US Consul General in Nigeria who was present during the launch of the project today shares the directors’ sentiments.

“There is a lot of work to be done in that space…It’s a long-going effort that we have to build more inclusive societies around the world…As you build a more inclusive society, you build a better society. It’s something that gives more opportunities for economic growth, more opportunities for entrepreneurship,” he said.

“Our brain is still very intact”

Olugbodi, who has chaired NGO Background Check International (BCI) for over 18 years, believes in ability in disability. Being a member of the PWD community himself, he says his physical impairment does not limit his intellectual abilities.

“People living with disabilities. Our legs may not work the way it should. one or two of our hands may not be there, our eyes may not see the way it should. [But] I tell you sincerely, our brain is still very intact. It’s not warped. We can still deliver,” he said.

With his work at Enable Africa, the organisation has secured employment for PWDs with employment partners including Sterling Bank, Access Bank, Unilever, Budget Foundation, and Sheraton.

“We’ve enjoyed this partnership with the US Consulate so much because they’ve financed a lot of the projects we have handled,” Olugbodi said.

The US through its mission agencies in Nigeria says it has designed and delivered deaf teachers development programs in the country and provided humanitarian assistance to 500,000 people displaced by floods.