ABAK Foundation, a disability rights advocacy and Economic empowerment organisation, with funding from Sightsavers Ghana, has held an economic development clinic for some 62 entrepreneurs with disabilities.
On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, in Accra, the entrepreneurs of small and medium enterprises were offered the platform to meet with regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drugs Authority and the Registrar General’s Department; as well as credit agencies, the Ghana Enterprises Agency and other service providers within the business sector.
The participants who were drawn from the Greater Accra, Eastern and Central Regions, were coached on business registration, certification of products, and how to access loans and grants, among others.
They were earlier given entrepreneurial skills training like setting up business, bookkeeping, branding and marketing.
The initiative is a two-year project meant to grow the businesses of 120 persons with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions in the country.
According to the Executive Director of ABAK Foundation, Mr. Philip Duah, they are expecting the living conditions of persons with disabilities to improve tremendously by the time the project ends.
In an interview with DisabilityNewsGH, Mr. Duah tells persons with disabilities not to belittle their potential.
He challenges them to take up apprenticeships or venture into entrepreneurship to shake themselves off poverty, while calling on the general public to do away with stigmatisation and discrimination and patronise products and services of persons with disabilities.
Mr. Philip Duah also calls on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to change their approach to disbursing the Disability Common Fund.
He says the current situation where the Assemblies decide on their own what items to buy for persons with disabilities, is not helping the beneficiaries of the fund.
He suggests that the Assemblies should undertake comprehensive needs assessments of the various persons with disabilities to identify how the fund could address their specific needs.
Mr. Duah also touches on the allegation that the Assemblies mostly target the fund at persons with disabilities who are affiliated with the ruling party, saying the fund should be disbursed fairly to benefit all who qualify for it.
He further requests that interventions and programmes aimed at persons with disabilities should be made accessible to enable them to serve their purpose.
The Programme Manager at Sightsavers Ghana, Mr. David Agyemang, who spoke about the role of their organisation in the SME Clinic, urged the participants to make the best out of the opportunuty they got.
Sightsavers helps people with disabilities to gain economic independence by providing them vocational training and skills. This opens up new opportunities for work and self-empowerment. They also work with private-sector employers to provide employment opportunities and training, and to change attitudes around disability.
Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, Inclusion Ghana and Challenges Ghana are also partners on the Disability Economic Empowerment Project.