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Opinion: Empower entrepreneurs with disabilities to boost economy, foster inclusivity

Image of Lylian Adhiambo, a baker and entrepreneur with a disability.
Lylian Adhiambo managed to make her bakery business a success after taking part in the InBusiness programme. © Kevin Gitonga- Plateau Media / Light for the World
  • Economic Empowerment

Lucy Murage, Head of Programmes at Light for the World Kenya, has written an article for The Star newspaper about the economic and societal benefits of inclusion in entrepreneurship.

Lylian Adhiambo’s doughnut business was struggling.

She kept no records but knew the few doughnuts she sold each day were not enough to make a profit.

“Persons with disability most of the time are not recognised within the community,” Lylian said.

“They see you as a burden because you cannot do anything.”

The discrimination Lylian describes is a key reason why the Kenyan economy is missing out on a rich — but largely untapped — source of talent.  

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics puts the employment rate among people with disabilities at 40 per cent compared to 73 per cent for people without disabilities.

The situation pervades both the public and private sectors – with government data revealing only one per cent of people with disabilities are employed in the public sector.

This is despite Kenya having ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2008, legally committing to protect and promote the right to dignified work and employment for people with disabilities. 

Article 54 of the Constitution of Kenya also mandates that people with disabilities must make up a minimum of five per cent of the public workforce. 

This together with the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003 provides safeguards on the rights to education, employment and participation in all facets of society, including the labour market.

However, many obstacles to economic inclusion persist.

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