Visually Impaired Women Showcase Entrepreneurial Success at Maiden Exhibition

Funmi Ogundare

Visually impaired women of Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Lagos State Chapter, recently held an exhibition to showcase their array of products and unwavering determination in the face of societal challenges.
Themed, ‘ Empowering Women, Celebrating Diversity , Entrepreneurship and Creativity’, the programme featured the display of products such as bags, adire material, flower vase, body creams, perfumes and other household material made by the women.

Speaking at the maiden exhibition held at the Multipurpose Hall, Odi Olowo Local Council Development Area, Ilupeju, Bukola Ogunsanya, Women Leader of the Lagos chapter of NAB, described the exhibition as “the next sensible step to enable our women to gain access to markets that have, for too long, appeared impenetrable for visually impaired entrepreneurs.”

The exhibition, she stated comes on the heels of the successful NAB kitchen programme, where select visually impaired women were trained in the art of baking, adding that the essence, aside showcasing their products and services, it was to change the narrative that people have about those who are visually impaired.
“We believe that this exhibition should follow suit, so the public is aware that we can be productive despite our blindness.”
Ogunsanya expressed concern that her association has not been receiving the needed support from Nigerians in terms of patronage saying that they need to be encouraged to be more productive .

She advised members to shun discouragement and discrimination; and forge ahead by advertising their products so that it can compete favorably with other products on the shelf.
The women leader appealed to government authorities to facilitate the growth and sustainability of visually impaired-owned businesses through the provision of waivers for business registration fees and exemptions from levies such as local government taxes, NAFDAC and SON registrations, among others.

Abolarinwa Salami , a lawyer and Chairman NAB, Lagos chapter , explained that the association has the objective of creating advocacy towards ability in disability and ensuring that they are empowered in all ramifications so that people can patronise the products they make.
“More often than not, people believe that those with visual impairment cannot be useful to themselves or the society and when they see them selling , they don’t patronise them .

He urged Nigerians to see people with disabilities as part of the society and lift them out of poverty by patronising them rather than giving them alms .
According to him,” there’s a need to create a ready-made market for people with disabilities and ensure a structure is put in place that will give members of the association the opportunity to be patronised.”

Speaking with journalists, the General Manager, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs (LASODA), Mrs. Adenike Oyetunde- Lawal , expressed excitement about what they have been able to produce saying that it shows that they can add to the Internally Generated Revenue ( IGR) of the state .
” They are together and they are supporting one another. That is so profound for me . I sense that they are open to development and evolving together as a community .
“I believe that as a society and government, the best thing to do is to help in their development through patronage which will enhance their service delivery.”

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