Government must ensure 1-2% MSME procurement from Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

·3-min read

Business directory on network of entrepreneurs with disabilities (NEDAR) launched India hosts first National Conference on 'Business Beyond Barriers' Persons with disabilities are creating over 2 lac jobs in India, Yet, they seem to largely be left out of the entrepreneurship conversation because of several reasons.

New Delhi, 10th February, 2021: The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Alliance To Promote Abilities & Rehabilitation (ATPAR), Network of Entrepreneurs with Disabilities for Assistance and Rehabilitation (NEDAR) and the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) jointly organized the first ‘National Conference on ‘Business Beyond Barriers – Empowering Entrepreneurs with Disabilities’ on a virtual platform.

Over 2500 people- including People with Disabilities, representatives from Government, public, private and disability sector across India, attended the same. The discussions focused on how various stakeholders can play a positive role in facilitating Persons with Disabilities to be part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP raised a key question as to why entrepreneurs with disabilities are seen merely as persons with disabilities rather than job creators in the country. “Statistics suggests that 63 million MSMEs in India are employing 110 million people, contributing 29 % of our GDP, a progress where people with disabilities are still kept out. Even though there is no comprehensive statistics, just by looking at the number of loans granted by NHFDC so far, we can definitely say that persons with disabilities are creating over 2 lac jobs, still there seems to be no recognition of this in the ecosystem,” he said. “Disability can no longer be a barrier for people to be a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and do business.” Thilakam Rajendran, Founder ATPAR which works on entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities across India said, “While the dream and contributions remain the same as every entrepreneur to be self-reliant and Aatmanirbhar, why are entrepreneurs with disabilities invisible? It’s time we move beyond perception blocks. All stakeholders should come together to enable and empower through convergence and inclusion to recognise their contributions and make them visible.” Udaykumar, Director (P&M), National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) said that NSIC was considering strengthening its Entrepreneurship Development Program to extend training, marketing and incubator services across locations for People with Disabilities. “Government procures from MSMEs and may consider to allot 1-2 percent of procurement from entrepreneurs with disabilities,” he added.

Rajan Sehgal, IFS, CMD, National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), mentioned that the organisation is considering working together with NSIC to create appropriate funding arrangements for NSIC trained entrepreneurs with disabilities. He highlighted various initiatives like NSK Centers, micro-credit through NHFDC Foundation, training collaboration with VRC etc for promoting and supporting entrepreneurship among persons with disabilities.

Dilip Chenoy, Secy. General FICCI, said, “In pandemic era, a number of new entrepreneurial opportunities have arisen utilizing the digital platforms and Persons with Disabilities should consider entrepreneurship after effective skilling and mentoring.” Ravindra Singh, CEO of Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD) added, ' the SCPwD is working to increase training partners and also number of trades for skilling.' To complete the enablement conversation, Samuel Raja Ratna, IDBI and Dev Kumar, SIDBI shared processes for financial inclusion of Entrepreneurs with Disabilities. The event saw the convergence of various Ministries, Industry, Industry Associations, Financial & Market sector and all the organizations seeking answers to the way forward to empower entrepreneurs with disabilities, SHG’s, supported employment, and many models of livelihood generation in the entrepreneurial space. This start of series ’Business Beyond Barriers’ in collaboration with NSIC, NHFDC, NCPEDP, ATPAR would soon begin to engage with more stakeholders for effective implementation of schemes for empowerment of PwDs to create maximum visibility & empowerment to this ‘Invisible Contributors’.

On this occasion, ATPAR also produced & launched the first Business Directory of members of NEDAR (a Network of Entrepreneurs with Disabilities, launched by ATPAR in 2019) by Ms. Stuti Kacker, (IAS) former Secretary, DEPwD, Gol.