The Deaf Empowerment Society of Kenya (DESK) has partnered with the Coca-Cola Foundation to equip over 15, 000 members mainly women and youth in five counties with entrepreneurial skills for them to be self-reliant.
Through the program dubbed “Boosting Economic Self-Reliance of the Deaf Women and Youth in Kenya Project (BESDY),” the target group from the counties of Embu, Meru, Migori, Vihiga and Nyamira will receive training on finance management, business development, capacity building, self-esteem as well as skills and knowledge on job hunting.
DESK Director of Communications and Public Relations, Ms Mercy Jeremy, said the training will enable the beneficiaries to establish and operate sustainable small-scale businesses for self-reliance.
She said the five counties were picked due to the high prevalence of people with various forms of disability.
Speaking on behalf of DESK Chief Executive Officer Jacob Ireri, at a training session for beneficiaries in Embu, Ms Jeremy said harnessing their entrepreneurial skills will have a snowball effect of reducing poverty rates of the target group.
“We are seeking to counter marginalization, dependency culture and social isolation related to people living with hearing impairment,” said the Director.
She continued that the beneficiaries will also be empowered to explore business opportunities available at all levels of government and the private sector.
One of the beneficiaries and an official of the deaf community in Embu, Purity Kagendo, said they suffer myriad challenges in life including fewer education and job opportunities due to difficulties in communicating with others.
Another barrier to their progression in life according to Ms Kagendo, was lack of mentorship programs to nurture their entrepreneurial ideas as they are often dismissed as people unable to do any gainful work.
Anglican Church of Kenya, Embu Diocese, Cleric Rev. Jack Ngari, who partners with the deaf community in the area, called on parents not to hide children with disabilities but rather seek avenues that can help them advance in life academically and economically.
The President of Coca Cola Foundation, Said Saadia Madsbjerg in a speech read by Ms Jeremy, was upbeat that the program will not only benefit the target population, but also their families.
By Samuel Waititu