Disability is not Inability – Employable Africa
Using Technology to link disabled youth with gainful employment and accessibility technology
4.2 million people live with a disability in Tanzania, and 13.2% of Tanzanian households have at least one member with a disability.1 In a survey conducted by CCBRT, TUICO and Radar Development in 2012, only 0.4% of the 20,568 employees surveyed in the private sector were disabled, despite the Tanzanian government mandating a quota of 3% for companies with more than 20 employees. For those with disabilities, economic prospects are often limited, leading to greater levels of poverty.
Due to stigma, people with disabilities are commonly viewed as worthy of pity, dependent, and as such not an integral part of the community. Only 3.1% of people with disabilities receive income from paid employment, and young adults with disabilities often are not afforded the same educational and employment opportunities as their peers. Children with disabilities are frequently not sent to school and when they enter the workforce, potential employers often do not accommodate their disabilities. The lack of accommodations and accessible information for those with disabilities creates a gap that must be bridged. The need to connect qualified youth with disabilities to potential employers is rising due to the rising number of universities and recruitment agencies who lack the capacity and ability for disability inclusion.
Inspired by the challenges she faced after losing her hearing to infection, Ms. Mashaka started Employable Africa to enhance access to decent jobs for people with disability in Africa, starting with Tanzania. Employable Africa seeks to act as an intermediary between employees with disabilities and employers through providing activities to coordinate both the supply side (students with disabilities) and the demand side (businesses) of employing Tanzanians with disabilities and by linking disabled job seekers with accessibility technology.
Employable Africa focuses on capacity building and training for employers on their responsibilities in inclusive employment as well as career development, guidance, and information on rights for disabled youth. (www.employableafrica.org). It also offers software access for disabled individuals including transcription services (www.rafikiconnect.com).
As a data and technology expert, I want to use technology and data to increase access to decent jobs for people with disabilities by solving challenges they face while searching for or starting jobs
Employable Africa meets and conducts workshops with educators, administrators, and students with disabilities. It also works with employers to help them partner with schools to develop opportunities within their companies for students with disabilities. Finally, it meets with policymakers, CSOs, organizations, and businesses to discuss the need for technology use in schools to help youth obtain the skills needed to gain decent jobs and to empower youth with disabilities.
Outcomes and Impact
Employable Africa’s mission is to champion inclusivity of employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Tanzania and eventually the whole of Africa. They hope to accomplish this by providing equitable access to job postings, teaching capacity building, and eliminating exclusion in the workplace. They also seek to connect applicants, employers, and NGOs to create a channel for data on employment and accessibility services.
Since being awarded a DLI Window 3 grant in June 2018, founder of Employable Africa, Ms. Mashaka has launched an online platform that has reached 1209 people to date, conducted workshops for more 800 youth with disabilities on employable skills, and held capacity building and service introduction to 12 corporations and businesses on destigmatizing and accommodating disabilities. They have also created a database for people with disabilities who are looking for employment (more than 500 from universities such as UDSM, UDOM and Social Welfare).
Additionally, Ms Mashaka was selected by the USA State Department as a professional fellow in Inclusive Employment in East Africa under Association of University Centres in Disability, and recognized as outstanding professional fellow among 300 professionals from 48 countries. She has also partnered with EnvisionIT an educational program for youth with disabilities.
Employable Africa is now working with Power Africa to increase access for people with disability in the energy sector.
Ms. Gwaliwa Mashaka and her team has received a $25,000 grant and mentoring from the Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC) to drive their project. Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) is sustaining the good work performed by DLI project to further engage, support, and connect Tanzanian innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other and to opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. To learn more, visit https://dlab.or.tz/.