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AIFO Recommends Inclusion Of PWD In Business Sector

MONROVIA, Sept. 25(LINA) amidst efforts to provide better living condition for members of people living with Disabilities (PWD), an Italian non-governmental organization, Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereauâ (AIFO), has recommended through a Baseline Survey Report the inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWD) in the business sector of Liberia.

Speaking in an interview with the Liberia News Agency (LINA) recently, the Country Director of the organization, Madam Silvia Poggioli, said the Baseline Survey was conducted by the Department of Economics and Management of the University of Florence and a Liberian researcher, Jacob Jallah.

Poggioli said the survey report covers the framework on Disability and Start-Up (DASU) project which was funded by the Italian Agency for Development, noting that the research was done in Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties to capture the composition of Liberia’s social-economic ecosystem in these counties.

DASU is a 3-year project formulated by AIFO and aims at strengthening the institutional role of DPOs and improve their members’ role at the national level for program related to the development of social enterprises and the employment of PWDs

The project also seeks to improve the capacity of small and medium enterprises through training courses in order to provide them with know-how, tools and skills so that they will be able to develop business plans to create sustainable start-ups.

The DASU project partners with the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled (NUOD), the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD), RIDS ONLUS (Italian Network on Disability and Development), and the Department of Economics and Management (DISEI) of the University of Florence.

The AIFO Country Director explained that in order to develop a successful social enterprise for people with disabilities a lot of emphasis must be placed on PwDs, noting that despite their challenges they are willing and able to expand businesses, guarantee formal employment and diversify production.

She said, government ministries, training centers, business and marketing associations and NGOs need to work as engines of growth and stabilization of social economy organization which in most cases lack of structure and formality, while DPOs can be an engine for the inclusion of PwDs in the business world.

Poggioli further noted that a national engagement is required as past and current governments have worked towards developing and strengthening the decentralization process by continuously proposing them in the political agenda.

The decentralization program is fundamental for the amelioration of the economic structure of Liberia, because experiences from around the world demonstrate that it is only through systems of local self-governance that local communities can better utilize their full potential in advancing their well-being, “she added.

She believes that most of the reform programs have been financed through foreign aid, citing that in most cases government has proven incapable of assuming financial responsibilities when donors withdraw.

Most often people with disabilities start their businesses with an external source of funding and when this source is dropped these activities often collapse, so government needs to promote means of financing in order to reduce dependence on donors/NGOs funding, Poggioli noted.

She further stated that promoting policy reform through the Ministry of Commerce in its Small Business Division would provide financial opportunities to social economic organizations in the rural part of Liberia.

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