By Adedapo Adesanya
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has announced that it would hold a special opportunity fair for People With Disabilities (PWDs) as part of its efforts to encourage socio-economic inclusion for PWDs entrepreneurs in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The Director General of SMEDAN, Mr Olawale Fasanya, during a capacity-building programme titled Grant and Growth Support for Business Membership Organisations and Trade Associations that was targeted at PWDs said the programme will pilot in Lagos.
Mr Fasanya said: “We are going to organise Special Opportunity Fairs for the PWDs and we are going to start it in Lagos. This will bring government personalities and agencies like National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to the fair that will be special for the PWDs.
“We will brainstorm to see how we can provide market linkages for you so that your products can be off taken. We will also try at the federal level to play an advocacy role for people that are physically challenged because, as far as we are concerned, you are people with special abilities and not disabilities. We will not just train you and leave you but will provide some support to you.”
He noted that “today, people with special abilities are making in-roads and redefining entrepreneurship as a route to socio-economic development,” adding that “they have accepted the challenge and are making a tremendous impact towards employment generation and wealth creation. They have demonstrated that there is ability in disability and process the tremendous potential for entrepreneurship.”
In her remark during the workshop, the Chairlady, Lagos State Chapter of Nigeria Association of the Blind, Mrs Christiana Akinrimade, requested that government should assist the PWDs in business to secure access to markets for their products through the provision of shops in notable markets in the country.
She said: “We want SMEDAN to assist us and empower us to be on our feet so that we can be able to convince others to join us.”
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer of The Eastern Star Care Foundation, Mrs Upright M. Wonders, who is also a physically challenged entrepreneur, called on governments in the country to patronise their products, saying, “I want to see our products in Aso Rock.”
Mrs Wonders told the SMEDAN DG that the PWDs are faced with the challenge of where to display their products. “Please encourage the federal government to be buying our products.
“Personally I have one of the best liquid soap products in this nation. But the state and federal governments are not patronising us enough. I want to see the products of PWDs in Sheraton and NICON Hotel,” she said.