Formal businesses urged to employ persons with disabilities (PWDs)


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Formal businesses have been urged to empower persons with disabilities (PWDs) by supporting their inclusion in formal waged employment as well as promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship (small-scale businesses) in Zimbabwe.

This came to the fore yesterday at a workshop in Harare where it emerged that the Federation of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (FODPZ) in partnership with the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH), Deaf Women Included (DWI) is implementing a project entitled ‘Enhancing Employment and Economic Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in Zimbabwe’, with Sightsavers being the technical and funding partner.

Addressing delegates, Mr. Nicholas Nicodimus, the Sightsavers Zimbabwe Project Officer – Economic Empowerment, said the project strategies include facilitating skills training, job placements, internships, entrepreneurial mentorships, supporting micro-businesses, establishing business and disability networks (BDN) as well as creating an enabling environment for employment of people with disabilities.

“In addition, the project will build the capacity of employers and employee associations/unions to have more inclusive workplace practice in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD) and local development strategies, legal and policy frameworks. It will also work with the government to create an enabling environment by advocating for the effective implementation of legislation and institutionalization of accountability mechanisms,” Mr. Nicodimus said.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) established the Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN), a unique platform for collaboration between National Business and Disability Networks (NBDNs) and multinational companies, employer organizations, civil society organizations, and academia (

By fostering collaboration between businesses, government agencies, and disability organizations, NBDNs create a supportive ecosystem for disability inclusion in the workplace. This ultimately leads to a more diverse, productive, and equitable workforce that benefits both businesses and individuals with disabilities.

Mr. Leonard Marange, the FODPZ National Director, said Zimbabwe has a vibrant and diverse business community, and creating a truly inclusive workforce is essential for its continued success.

He said disability only arises when a person with an impairment interacts with barriers in the environment and that at the backdrop of those barriers are negative attitudes.
“The barriers that we then find in society prevent persons with disabilities from accessing opportunities on an equal basis with their non-disabled counterparts. So we then talk about the physical environment, which is the built-up environment, we talk about information, how it’s packaged, and so on, as not being inclusive because someone somewhere does not appreciate that, or due to ignorance. These negative attitudes and barriers are our worst problems.
“So they then lead to limited access by persons with disabilities to inclusive education or skills development and ultimately meaningful employment. As a result, qualified persons with disabilities cannot access the open labour market. Due to that cognitive bias, once they are seen there, PWDs are seen as the costs, they are seen as non-productive before they even say anything. So these are issues that we must confront because these are the real issues that prevent persons with disabilities from accepting employment opportunities,” Mr. Marange said.
He added that further to such limitations, persons with disabilities face discrimination, stigma, misconceptions, and barriers which are not only obstacles to individuals but also a missed opportunity for businesses themselves to tap into a diverse and highly capable talented potential workforce that is living out there.
“Because of these negative attitudes, I must emphasize that the private and public sector companies in Zimbabwe therefore have a crucial role to play and can use their leverage to acknowledge the PWDs’ potential,” Mr. Marange added.

Mrs. Nester Mukwehwa, the EMCOZ Executive Director, said her organisation is advocating for employment inclusion with a particular focus on maintaining gender and disability in the workplace.

“EMCOZ has signed up as a member of the Global Business Disability Network.  We encourage the employers to establish the National Disability Network in Zimbabwe,” she said.