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Social Entrepreneurship: Self-Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Angella Chizimba

The past four months have been incredible. I met Nyamsuku (not her real name); founder of Takondwa Club, a local club for people living with disabilities. Nyamsuku suffered from polio at a young age and has used walking aids ever since. Growing up, Nyamsuku did not think of herself as disabled, she taught herself to reframe challenges and not see them as obstacles. Despite her disability, Nyamsuku is a self-motivated person and passionate about inclusivity.  For over ten years she has been teaching people in adult literacy despite being paid so little. She did several small income-generating activities which sustained her and her family. She noticed how most people living with disabilities (PWD) were being left behind in most activities and the PWD never felt motivated to work for themselves.

In 2018, Nyamsuku was made the chairperson and a representative of PWD under the Area Development Committee. She aimed at finding scholarships for children living with disabilities especially the deaf and by 2019, she saw about five children in Bandawe school of the deaf in Malawi through sponsorships. She talks about these achievements with pride. This motivated her to start a group called Takondwa club. The club is comprised of people living with disabilities and/or have children with disabilities. This group was formed to motivate its members to see good in everything and to be limitless in their thoughts. As a group they were able to work towards food security by making organic fertilizers that boosted their harvest.

In realizing that PWD need skills to engage in livelihood activities, with help from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the group received funds to go through a tailoring training as one way to ensure self-employment to the members. As we believe in small investment and bigger impacts, this group aims to find a reliable source of income for their families through tailoring and other income-generating activities to come. As it is an enterprise; oneness, willingness and hard work will bear more fruit.

“There is dignity in work. It contributes to an individual’s self-worth and self-respect and offers a sense of purpose and accomplishment“, one group member commented during a tailoring training session. This opportunity is a big step for them and a step towards achieving sustainable development for persons with disabilities. Nyamsuku is happy to see people with disabilities work for themselves, “We will set an example to other people living with disabilities,” she commented.

PWD need skills to engage in livelihood activities. Their families and communities may assume that they are unable to engage in such activities. They often lack access to basic education, making them unqualified to join skills training courses. These disadvantages frequently result in a lack of skills, as well as low confidence, expectations and achievement. As the trainings continue, I personally look forward to seeing the team grow in confidence and boost their skills, which will help them to improve their livelihoods.

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