In its bid to improve the entrepreneurial viability of PWDs, especially the women category, The Network for Disabled Women (NDW), In partnership with Sightsavers and support from Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) recently organized an Innovation Challenge to bolster the entrepreneurial potentials of select Women with Disabilities who are into entrepreneurship. The challenge is designed to fast track development for sustainable entrepreneurial growth.

The innovation challenge program which had some 59 candidates actively jostling for recognition is essentially geared towards creating employment opportunities for Women with Disabilities (all clusters) to minimize the ever-increasing challenge of unemployment faced by PWDs.

In a statement exclusively made available to INN, an NDW team noted that the main objective of the project was to help new and existing entrepreneurs build their disability confidence, increase employment opportunities, identify their strengths and secure a platform for growing their businesses.


Winners of the Innovation Challenge Competition

The project began with a googlelinks document bearing basic information of applicants like name, location, disability type, etc, shared on Tuesday, February 8th on various social media platforms for registration for the innovation challenge. Registration lasted a week after which compilation and screening of entries was done by a team of professional judges consulted to facilitate the selection process for transparency, fairness and effectiveness. At the end of the exercise, 15 persons were selected from the entries.

Safiya Musa of Edushine foundation, Mr Kingsley Godwin, Program officer at World Impact Development Foundation (WIDEF), Emokiniovo Otarigho, executive director, Impact Driven Young Leaders Initiative (IDYL initiative) and Lydia Atoba Hambaddon of Lydia Consulting Initiative were among the judges who facilitated the entries selection process.

INN can authoritatively report that the Innovation Challenge event was categorized in two, namely: “Online capacity building training” and “Dragon Pitch event”. At least 15 participants were originally used as prep ground for the final selection of five participants. From these, the ultimate winner and first and second runners emerged in the competition’s phase one.

Further more, the Dragons Pitch event which is essentially made of several activities designed to commemorate the International Women’s Day availed the top five finalists the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in the course of determining the first three winners of the Innovation challenge competition.

The program had in attendance Mrs Esther Bature, representing the Country Director, Sightsavers Nigeria. Also in attendance were representatives from the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, UN Women, ACCI, Disability Rights Fund and Accountability Lab – all of who delivered speeches in commemorial of the International Women’s Day.

Each finalist was allotted three minutes to showcase her business ideas and was quizzed by the judges to get insights into their innovative ideas, its viability, business opportunities and potential positive effect on the immediate environment.

Pelomo Nyajo, winner of the challenge

There’s no doubt that the knowledge-driven cum entertaining contest was won by the best brains among the five finalists – each of whom demonstrated amazing power point presentation to emerge victorious.

A physically challenged lady, Pelomo Nyajo, an artist, singer and poet based in the FCT, Abuja emerged the overall winner of the contest. Nyajo carted home the top winner’s cash-prize of Two hundred thousand naira (N200,000). First runner-up, Zainab Yusuf, a person with albinism and bag producer got the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira (N150,000). Roseline Raji, a physically challenged cobbler came in third place with a cash reward of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000). Remarkably, all three winners are based in the nation’s capital.

Zainab Yusuf, first runner-up

Safiya Musa, one of the judges of the exciting contest magnanimously gifted the sum of fifty thousand naira to a Deaf lady, Shaapera Mercy. Mercy came fourth in the rankings. Mrs Safiya believes the Deaf contestant had shown an unprecedented level of commitment during the event. She further stressed that “the contest is a means of raising women to strengthen the chain”

Roseline Raji, second runner-up

Excited with the performance of the grand winner of the innovation challenge, Accountability Lab granted her free access to their media lab for recording and other activities as needed.

NDW in the statement thanked Sightsavers and FCDO for their supports in ensuring the event ended successfully.

INN learnt that the event provided opportunities for extensive discussions between the facilitators and participants on topical business-oriented issues – encompassing easiest ways of becoming an entrepreneur, protecting businesses, creating a business plan, profit and cost, business financial planning, ways of marketing business, running businesses, marketing channels and pricing mechanism.

Beneficiaries of the event were drawn from the different disability clusters: the Deaf, persons with albinism, the physically challenged and the blind.


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