By Olasunkanmi Akoni
An NGO, Project Enable Africa, PEA, has unveiled a new programme targeted at enhancing business enterprises being run by Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, in the country.
PEA is renowned for the digital empowerment and human rights advocacy for PWDs in Nigeria.
The programme, which is supported by the Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation, Access Bank, commenced the designed to provide business support to at least 50 PWDs-led businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event organised to also commemorate the 2020 International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities, Thursday, Executive Director of the organisation, Mr. Olusola Owonikoko, added that seven other PWDs would be pitching to get business funding, while 500 will undergo business and digital literacy trainings.
According to Owonikoko, “The goal of the business support programme is to promote the access of entrepreneurs with disabilities to training content, tools, resources and mentorship necessary to scale their businesses, especially in the post-COVID era.
“The business support training is the first of its kind, in Nigeria, targeted at providing inclusive business support content and resources for the community of persons with disabilities.
“The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of daily lives, leading to increased unemployment.
“Data from the Global Disability Inclusion Survey have shown that 51% of Persons Living with Disabilities have either lost their jobs, been laid off, or believe they will lose their job in the next 90 days, compared to 28 percent of those without a disability.
“At Project Enable Africa, we realised that from our interactions with the disability community, most especially through the food drive project during the lockdown, that one of the most sustainable supports that can be given to Persons With Disabilities is to provide specific knowledge-driven assistance required to scale businesses and ensure sustainable growth and profitability.
“The pitching competition has showcased fantastic business models that meet real human needs. 50 business owners joined the class and about 30 of them entered for the pitching competition.
“Only eight made it to the final pitching competition and we congratulate Mr Olawale Dada—who is living with Cerebral Palsy— for winning the competition. His business will receive the seed funding of $1000 for possible expansion.
“The Business Support Programme provided adequate knowledge in areas such as business mentorship, access to market, funding linkage, legal counsel, digital strategy, and financial management.
“We are indeed grateful to ACT Foundation and Access Bank for supporting this project. With their support, participants will have ample opportunity to re-invent their businesses and help remain profitable despite the global pandemic.
“In commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disability which is celebrated across the globe to advance the rights of PWDs, we have designed this year’s edition of our annual Disability Inclusion and Disability Awards to unveil 30 most Inspiring Persons with Disability in Nigeria.
“These are people, who in spite of their different disabilities, are leading change and inspiring others.”