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CONFERENCE: Alleviating Poverty – Solutions and Resolutions Conference

 





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Encouraging and developing entrepreneurship is one of the keys to alleviating poverty amongst people with disabilities. This unique strategy is just one of many other proposed solutions to the crisis which will come under the spotlight during the ACSA Disability Conference. The event takes place on 16 and 17 September at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand and forms part of the ACSA Disability Trade and Lifestyle Expo which ends on 18 September. The Conference theme is “Alleviating Poverty – Solutions and Resolutions”.

"There is power in being disabled,” says Allon Raiz, Chief Executive Officer of Raizcorp, the only private, self-funded, profitable business incubator on the African continent. “People with disabilities must not think of themselves as disabled and disadvantaged - they are advantaged.
Because they don't get the breaks, they know what it's like to fight hard."

Raiz will discuss various strategies for the development of entrepreneurship at the Disability Conference. He poses a logical observation as an example: “People who don't get things easily in life are more likely to become successful entrepreneurs than people who do."

“It is a well known fact that people with disabilities are more poverty stricken than anybody else in South Africa,” says Ari Seirlis, spokesperson for the South African Disability Alliance (SADA), which comprises 13 leading disability organisations in the country. “Solutions do not necessarily lie in increasing grants, but rather by developing the skills of people with disabilities and ensuring there is decent work available for them through mainstream employment channels.”

Commenting on SADA’s decision to support the Disability Conference, Seirlis adds: “There is a common slogan in the disability sector that says, ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’. By endorsing this conference, and being a part of the planning of its aims and objectives, the disability sector will have a forum to engage.”

Based on data culled from South Africa’s 1990 national census, people with disabilities tend to have a higher rate of self-employment and small business experience than people without disabilities. The actual statistics indicated 12.2 percent of people with disabilities ran their own businesses compared to 7.8 percent of people without disabilities.

More than 10 percent of the world's population has a disability of some kind, with 15 percent more living expenses than able-bodied people. With
95 percent of South African people with disabilities unemployed, disability places huge pressure on society and government. It is an unfortunate fact that poverty makes people more vulnerable to disability, and disability exacerbates poverty.

A recent research study on poverty and disability in Johannesburg found that, despite government commitments to uphold the basic human rights of people with disabilities, most remain poor, have less education and are not able to earn a meaningful living. The /Johannesburg// Poverty and Disability study/ conducted by the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) in collaboration with the UK’s Department for International Development revealed that in eight of the poorest wards of Johannesburg, 82% of people with a disability or chronic illness were unemployed.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” says Bette McNaughton, a Director at Fair Consultants, organisers of the conference. “Viable solutions need to be identified and implemented. This Conference aims to bring together all stakeholders - business and the public sector, disability organisations, policy makers and decision-makers – to debate the issues and map a way forward”.

Local social fund manager Tshikululu Social Investments will be highlighting the role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Social Enterprise at the conference. The company has been entrusted an allocation of developmentally informed investments in excess of R2-billion in the last decade, supporting more than 15 000 projects and hundreds of South Africa’s champions of change.

A conference session on development programmes and funding will give delegates the opportunity to learn more about the opportunities available for people with disabilities to access funding.

One source is the Thabo Mbeki Development Trust for Disabled People
(TMDT) which focuses on three areas: facilitation of skills development and employment for people with disabilities, a poverty alleviation programme; and the provision of assistive devices to support the employment equity of people with disabilities.

The Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) will update delegates on its projects and programmes aimed at developing and improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Nokwazi Mazibuko, Provincial Manager for the National Development Agency of Gauteng will address the topic: ‘Funding in South Africa: What, Who and Why’. The NDA is a statutory organisation whose mission is to contribute to the eradication of poverty and its causes.

Other conference highlights include:

* Keynote address by the Hon. Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya of the
Ministry for Children, Women and People with Disabilities, South
Africa
* UN Convention – First Country Report and Processes by Benny
Palime, Programme for Persons with Disabilities* ***
* Funding and resources for entrepreneurial development by Nicola
Jowell, Foundation Manager at SA Breweries.**
* Municipalities and Persons with Disabilities – presentation by the
South African Local Government Association
* Special Education and Inclusive Education in South Africa by Marie
Schoeman - Deputy-Director, Inclusive Education: Department of
Basic Education, South Africa
* Rural Development by Maanda Lukoto, Acting Director,
Organisational Transformation Office, Department of Rural
Development and Land Reform, South Africa
* Projects and Programmes aimed at developing and improving the
lives of people with disabilities
* Keynote Address: Accessibility and Infrastructure Development by
the Hon. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister Department of

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