In developing countries every five seconds one person goes blind, every minute one child.
7.5.2014 16:25

Alemayehu’s Street Stall

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Livelihood programmes are a driving force for economic inclusion

“I want to be an example for other persons with disabilities, to show everyone what we can achieve on our own”, says Alemayehu, a young Ethiopian who proudly started up his own business by participating in a livelihood programme supported by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD. Today he runs his own street stall, selling electronic goods in the town of Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia. Alemayehu is also an active member of a local Disabled People's Organisation. He made his first steps towards success supported by our partner local organization, Cheshire Services.

Cheshire Services Hawassa is a key partner of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in the field of community based rehabilitation including livelihood programmes. The organization has been active in tackling the problems of children and youth with disabilities through continued institutional care, outreach services, and community based rehabilitation.

Through self-organized saving and credit associations, our local Ethiopian partner provides persons with disabilities with business start-up capital. Cheshire Services also approach mainstream micro-finance institutions to accept persons with disabilities, their saving and credit associations as clients. Like in Alemayehu’s case, Cheshire Services facilitates the establishment of small businesses by persons with disabilities.

785 million cases of neglected potential

“1 billion persons around the globe have some form of disability – 785 million of whom are of working age. They represent a large, diverse pool of talent”, says Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization.  Less than 10 % of the adult populations in many African countries have bank accounts and an estimated 82 % of the people with disabilities live below the poverty line. That is why “Access for all” is a much used slogan in microfinance. Ryder calls for action: ‘Yet too many are denied to dignity of work. To have a fair chance they need access to skills, and entrepreneurship development programmes, as well as business development services and credit.’

However, very few disabled persons have access to microfinance services. This has led disabled persons, their advocates and donors to demand better access to mainstream microfinance products like credit, savings and insurance.

Microcredit is only one of several ways of empowering persons with disabilities and providing them with a working income - which represents a powerful instrument for inclusion.

First steps into economic independence are achievable easily enough through private initiatives, yet for the long-term success of livelihood programmes, the support of local political authorities is crucial as well.

“Of course I am proud of what I have achieved so far”, Alemayehu says, and after a moment’s thought adds, “But now I am ready for the next step. I need the municipality’s consent for opening a walled shop.” Then he invites his visitors to a nearby café: “After all I am a successful businessman.”

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