Visually impaired entrepreneur wants society expose children to opportunities
Augustine Ubaka, an award-winning visually impaired entrepreneur has urged parents and the society to always give support to the physically challenged children by seeing ability in their disability.
The Delta State-born entrepreneur said they should help the children to embrace opportunities that would better their lives rather than ‘locking them in’ because of their condition.
Ubaka said he would have been living as a ‘poor blind beggar’ if he was not given opportunity to develop himself.
“Today, I am a blessing to my family. I am a blessing to today’s youth and to my state because I am not just an entrepreneur but also a trainer and facilitator,” Ubaka told BusinessDay in Asaba.
The craftsman and father of three, is presently among the 125 verified capable exporters in Delta State, following the profiling exercise conducted by the state government as directed by the National Action Committee NAC on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Shimite Bello, executive assistant to Delta Governor on Export Initiatives and coordinator, Delta-UNIDO Centre (DUCEI), told BusinessDay that the state government through her office made it open for entrepreneurs to collect forms and fill for the eight-day profiling exercise aimed at assessing capable exporters that would export products to the international market.
A total of 1,483 forms were collected, 1,028 were filled and returned. Among the forms returned, 789 were qualified while 293 were disqualified. A total of 125 however, made it to the penultimate stage of profiling.
By next month, it would be clear how many among the 125 that would make the final successful profiled exporters in the state, she said. Those who were qualified but couldn’t reach the penultimate stage would have to make necessary corrections as regards their products and present themselves for next year’s exercise.
For reaching the penultimate stage, 47 year-old Ubaka who uses small coloured ropes to produce beautiful crafts-bags, purse, belts, foot wears, attributed his success to God’s grace.
The father of three said that he wouldn’t have succeeded without the wife’s (Biola) support, “My wife helps me carry my products; during production, I tell her the colour of rope that I need and she selects them for me; thereby, making the work a lot easier,” he said.
“Today, we are rated as the best because of the uniqueness of the products; no other person came to the exhibition/assessment with our kind of products,” he said.
“You are not here because you are visually impaired but because of the uniqueness of your products,” Bello had told him.
Babafemi Lawal, lead-programme coordination, sub-national, monitoring and evaluation for NAC on AfCFTA and Peter Onokpasa, the state head/trade promotion officer, representing the Nigerian Export Promotion Commission (NEPC), also saw the products and approved same.
Ubaka told BusinessDay that he was committed to producing quality products to make his state proud for believing in him.
He recalled that the moment he became blind at his teenage age, it was as if all hope was gone but his uncle took his matter to the Delta State Women Affairs and Community Development, who through the rehabilitation department, sent him to a school in Lagos to learn crafts.
“Since the training, I have played some games in sports and won awards. As a designer, I have also been to products’ exhibitions organised at regional, national and international levels and won awards,” he said.
“God gives me design when I’m sleeping. When I wake up, I put it into practice and it comes out fine and beautiful. That’s God-given gift to me; it’s not just about going to the school. There were people that went to training with us, they weren’t successful. But I said to myself that in this condition, I will never beg. So, God has been supporting me up till this time,” he further said.
He said he has been doing crafts for over 10 years. I am a trainer and facilitator. So, I have been training people and I’m happy that I have imparted so many youths in this country positively, revealed.
He believes that since he’s able to realize his dreams, any physically challenged child could do same, thus he advised, “Don’t hide your children. Don’t lock them in. That child may be the one God will use to turn things around in your family.”