Strong Ties Empowerment Foundation (STEP), a non-governmental organisation, has put in place measures to help finance businesses for women living with disabilities.
The group says it addresses social, vocational and mental health issues that constrain women from leading successful lives and contributing as key actors in their communities.
During a programme tagged “No Limit,” the founder of STEP, Mrs. Glory Odejimi, said the foundation has been empowering women by helping them unlock their hidden potential. She stated that the foundation would assist the women to get loans for their businesses from banks, adding that they would then pay back just 20 per cent of the money borrowed.
According to Mrs. Odejimi, the foundation also has several courses and training programmes for the women.
“But for this Mother’s Day, we decided to spend it with these special categories of women, empower them, whether educated or not, as long as they are women living with disabilities. We are trying to see how we can empower them in any way we can.
“We are also mentoring them and that was why we partnered with Accion Microfinance Bank to help us micromanage them because we know that we are not experts in that field, to help manage them in terms of accountability.”
Chief executive officer of Ennovy Integrated Services Limited, who also partnered with STEP, Yvonne Olasogbo, said she identified with the No Limit programme because women faced several challenges.
“We said, no limit, because we are women and face several challenges. And we know that there is always a glass ceiling. Women don’t move as fast as men do. Whether we like it or not, that happens. Then you can imagine when you are a woman and you have disabilities. So, for ‘No Limit,’ we are focusing on women with disabilities. We want to empower them, a number of them are creative and they have handworks. Some make beads and some trade and they need support.
“We know how difficult it is to get loans, even for regular people. Banks are not quick to assist you, even when they want to. There are a lot of requirements. So, a lot of these PWDs (people with disabilities) may not be able to meet up with that and they need help. We are looking at how we can help them get loans to start up.
“What we need from them is just 20 per cent payback. For instance, assuming we give you N100,000 for your business, what we need back from you is just N20,000 and that is 20 per cent of it, so that we can also use it to help other women.
“This is the first batch of the beneficiaries and they have been accessed to know the level of help they need. We hope they will go out there with what we have empowered them with and be able to improve their businesses. We have mentorship programme in place in order to be able to interact with them and see the level of their growth.”
Rita Ofili, wheelchair model, councillor and spokesperson for people with disabilities in Lagos, commended the foundation for the aid it renders the persons living with disabilities, promising that the beneficiaries would utilise the opportunity.
“I commend STEP for their work. They are doing a good job intentionally. It’s a good way to go.
“I urge government to emulate and key into programmes like this. In government, we have to create awareness in every local government because we need to be included in governance. We are humans.
“Government should stop the discrimination in terms of employment. Employ people that are capable. There are PWDs that merit certain jobs and are qualified for such jobs, employ them. And for those not educated, they have skills. Let’s not leave anyone untouched,” she said.