On August 10, 2023, a delegation from TAF Africa, Sightsavers, and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) led by Ambassador Jake Epelle, the CEO/Founder of TAF Africa, visited the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) in Lagos. The purpose of the visit was to discuss its ongoing Economic Empowerment Project for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), which is funded by Sightsavers through its Economic Empowerment Project, a strategic initiative aimed at promoting the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the workforce. The primary objective of the visit was to get the buy-in of NECA and explore potential partnership opportunities between TAF Africa and NECA to enhance the project's impact and promote disability inclusion within corporate organizations.   The meeting had in attendance the Director General - Adewale Smatt-Oyerinde, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Head of HR and Admin – Bankole Adebola, Snr Executive, Learning and Development - Usen Isabella, Head of Finance – Babalola Thomas, Director, Social Labour Affairs (SLA) – Adenike Adebayo-Ajala, Head of Legal Regulatory and Taxation – Thompson Akpabio. TAF Africa’s delegates alongside representatives of Organization of Persons with Disabilities and Sightsavers were led by the CEO/Founder of TAF Africa. The CEO/Founder of TAF Africa, Amb. Jake Epelle presented an insightful overview of the ongoing Economic Empowerment Project for Persons With Disabilities, emphasizing its objectives and strategies. The presentation highlighted the importance of fostering disability inclusion within the workforce and the positive impact it can have on both individuals and businesses.   George Anwayi, the Assistant Programme Manager of TAF Africa, who doubles as the focal person on the Economic Empowerment Project, explained that the primary objective of the project is to increase the labour force participation rate of women and men with disabilities in Nigeria. Anwayi emphasized that TAF Africa views NECA as a strategic partner, facilitating TAF's access to employers in the private sector. He further highlighted that there are highly skilled individuals with disabilities who possess the desire and capability to make meaningful contributions to the advancement of any organization, given the opportunity. He added that the "Access to Work Scheme" will ensure that organizations interested in hiring individuals with disabilities are not burdened with additional expenses for providing necessary assistive devices or technology.   Furthermore, Gambo Yohanna, a representative from Sightsavers reassured the Director-General that Sightsavers has a pool of well-qualified and extensively trained individuals with disabilities who are ready for employment. Some of these individuals hold master's degrees and have received specialized training in information and communication technology (ICT).   The Chief Executive Officer of TAF Africa, Ambassador Jake Epelle, expressed interest in collaborating with NECA to extend the reach and impact of the project. He stressed the significance of corporate buy-in from member organizations of NECA to create a sustainable and inclusive employment environment for PWDs. The discussion revolved around ways in which NECA could support and promote the project among its corporate affiliates. In response to the presentation and proposal, the Director General of NECA made several commitments to further advance the partnership and promote disability inclusion which include:
  • The appointment of a dedicated focal person to oversee the collaboration between NECA and TAF Africa.
  • Establishment of a committee to thoroughly evaluate the project and explore avenues for joint contribution.
  • Development of a comprehensive sustainability plan to ensure the project's continuity and lasting impact.
  • Engagement of Sign Language Interpreters for NECA programs accommodating up to 35 participants, ensuring accessibility for PWDs.
  • Introduction of a new award category for the "Most Disability Inclusive Employer" at the upcoming Employers Award ceremony in December.
  • Keeping TAF Africa informed about all NECA programs to ensure disability inclusion in their planning.

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