Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeNEWSUS Funding Empowers Entrepreneurs With Disabilities in Nigeria

US Funding Empowers Entrepreneurs With Disabilities in Nigeria

In a groundbreaking initiative to foster inclusivity and economic empowerment, advocacy groups for disabled persons’ rights in Nigeria have joined hands with the US government. The aim is to equip people with disabilities (PWDs) with the skills and resources needed to thrive in the job market.

Launching on World Labour Day, the project has received a significant boost with $30,000 in funding from the US Consul General in Nigeria. Set to commence in Abia and Edo states, the endeavor aims to train 70 entrepreneurs with disabilities in essential business skills. These individuals will also receive crucial seed capital to kickstart their ventures, promising a new era of economic independence and dignity.

Olushola Awonikoko, executive director of Project Enable, emphasized the transformative power of employment for PWDs: “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.”

But the initiative goes beyond individual empowerment. It seeks to catalyze broader societal change by engaging with civil society and government stakeholders. The goal is to bolster the implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, signed into law in 2019. Despite its enactment, the act still faces challenges in full implementation across Nigeria.

Awonikoko highlighted the urgent need for capacity-building among key stakeholders: “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.”

Kola Olugbodi, director at Project Enable, echoed these sentiments, underscoring the pervasive issue of discrimination faced by PWDs: “Some establishments have zero people with disabilities working for them, so let them even attempt to do 5 percent. The biggest challenge persons with disabilities face is discrimination.”

The presence of Will Stevens, the US Consul General in Nigeria, at the project launch underscored the commitment of the US government to fostering inclusivity globally. Stevens emphasized the ripple effects of inclusivity: “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.”

Olugbodi, a staunch advocate for the abilities of PWDs, emphasized the untapped potential within the community: “Persons with disabilities. Our legs may not work the way it should…But I tell you sincerely, our brain is still very intact. It’s not warped. We can still deliver.”

Through partnerships with organizations like Project Enable, the US Consulate has been instrumental in driving positive change for PWDs in Nigeria. Olugbodi highlights the impact of this collaboration: “We’ve enjoyed this partnership with the US Consulate so much because they’ve financed a lot of the projects we have handled.”

Indeed, the US government’s engagement in Nigeria extends beyond this initiative. From deaf teacher development programs to humanitarian assistance for flood victims, the US continues to demonstrate its commitment to fostering positive change and inclusivity in Nigeria and beyond.

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