A non-government organisation, Star Child Development Initiative, SCDI, in collaboration with the Association of Alberta Agriculture Fieldmen (AAAF), sensitized people living with disabilities on the various entrepreneurship activities they could engage themselves in rather than depending on government and relatives for survival.
The organisation, in its efforts, has been encouraging and supporting many disabled youths in their entrepreneurship careers, while trying to help them diversify into agriculture and agribusiness, exploring agricultural value chains to their advantage.
To achieve this, the organisation stated that it has launched StarAgrability in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan, where the physically challenged youths were trained various skills along Agric value chains.
And as a result of the training, many of them have been producing cassava chips, cassava chinchin, garri and powdered fufu.
Speaking at the International Day for Persons with Disability/trade Fair (basically showcasing goods produced by persons with disabilities) with the theme “promoting Equitable Development for Disabled Youths: A Must for Economic Growth” organised by Star Child Development Initiative, SCDI, in collaboration with Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation, AAAF, and Accion Micro Finance Bank over the weekend, the Chairman of the occasion, Professor Sabitu Olagoke, lamented the non-sensitivity of government to the empowerment of the people living with disabilities.
According to him, for the country to be economically strong, it must operate with minimum of 7 per cent growth rate, $900billion GDP and 6,000MW, unfortunately the country has not met any of the conditions hence, the need for economic diversification to enhance economic growth.
He maintained that the United nations 17 Points Agenda on sustainable development goal must be fully implemented especially the items on promotion on inclusive society whereby the welfare scheme would reach effectively with impact on both the able bodied and people living with disabilities.
Olagoke said agriculture remained the most feasible option that could easily address the lingering economic recession to create of jobs and employment.
He analysed various entrepreneur opportunities along Agric value chains that could be taken up by the people with disabilities, while urging the government to create enabling environment for them to thrive. He particularly charged the government to re-structure the Graduate Employment Scheme, GES, in a way to make the design friendly for ease of adaptability for the people living with disabilities.
He also appealed to the financial institutions and individual philanthropists to be more supportive to the disabled persons.
“He said, “diversification of the economy is sacrosanct to poverty alleviation. Promotion of Inclusive Society of the United Nations of the 17 Points Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals must be implemented to favour People Living With Disabilities, PLWDs.
“The PLWDs will need to be rehabilitated and formed into sizeable Cooperative Society Groups using the Awolowo Farm Settlement model to be able to have easy access to loan scheme.
“For the scheme to work effectively and to be sustainable, efforts would have to be made by government and relevant financial institutions to provide necessary support for the graduates and PLWDs.”
The Founder of SCDI, Mrs. Grace Alexander Abimbola also lamented that the level of discrimination against people with disabilities especially in Nigeria in terms of employment and access to loan was too high.
She said the purpose of the initiative by her foundation was to bring out the inherent ability out of the disabilities through empowering the disabled people in various entrepreneurial skills.
She also promised to help the disabled entrepreneurs in exporting their products as well as creating online platform through which they could advertise and offer their products for sale.
Speaking on the International Day for Persons with Disability celebration/Trade Fair, Abimbola said apart from showcasing the ability and inherent talents in the disabled person for the society to see how greatly they could contribute to economic growth, it was also aimed at promoting Made-in-Nigeria products as about 100 disabled exhibitors displayed their products.
However, the Managing Director, Accion Micro Finance Bank, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, said the discrimination against disable people by financial institutions has been reverted.
She said for instance, her bank has created a special product to cater for the funding of the businesses of the people with disabilities, disclosing that the bank has disbursed about N6.5million in that regard since last year.
Meanwhile, Lawson lamented that the banks faced challenges in giving loans to the PLWDs as some of them would see the loan as charity.
She therefore urged their associations and the NGOs to be more proactive in enlightening the disabled entrepreneurs on the loans.
She also encouraged partnership among them to reduce overhead cost of production.
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