1. Briefly tell us about yourself and your organization.
Veronica Lomfa Amartey is the Executive Director of The Challenged Foundation. She is physically disabled and has faced all the stereotype, untruths, misconceptions and perceptions about disabilities growing up in an African setting such as Ghana. The Challenged Foundation is a Non-Governmental organization that empowers the disabled by providing skills and personal development trainings. We do informal education through our social media handles to empower the disabled as well as advocate and lobby government for policy change to favour this group of people. We sensitize African communities on disabilities and also form parent self-help groups, where parents of people living with disability are trained to be peer educators and self-advocates. In these groups, parents share their challenges and get needed advisory support from other members. Such parents are also given skills training in order to give them sustainable livelihood.
2. What motivated you to start your social enterprise?
A lot led to the founding of this Social Enterprise. We all know that the disabled are part of minority groups in Ghana and they are mainly impoverished. Growing up, I have had to push through very hard circumstances because of the untruths about disabilities. My personal experiences growing up with disability and other experiences gathered from other disabled persons motivated the setting up of this social enterprise. This is to simply say that we want to challenge and change some old mindsets and beliefs about people living with disability in Ghana.
3. So far, what has been the impact of your social enterprise?
Great impacts have been made. About 200 disabled persons have benefited from our digital marketing training and cyber security training. Disabled persons are also social media users and we need to make them aware of its dangers. Thirteen (13) beneficiaries have had their businesses registered with the Registrar General’s Department in Ghana for free. Participation in Green Business workshop has also been made possible. Some members have their own businesses now. Beneficiaries have all benefitted from from our online educative videos.
4. What are the major challenges you are currently facing in your social enterprise?
Challenges range from financial to social. Ghana has transitioned into a middle-income country and there is limited donor funding for NGOs. Our area of work is one that people aren’t really interested in because it doesn’t fetch money immediately. Thanks to the African Social Enterprise Workshop (ASEW) for their regular events, we are now strategizing to develop into a self-sustaining organization. Our second challenge is the attitude of beneficiaries who are only interested in being lavished with physical cash when they are not even qualified to use those finances effectively to run a business. There seems to be a limited interest from beneficiaries in our trainings.
5. Mention one big change you will like to see in your line of work e.g., policy change, behaviour change, institutional support, more collaboration etc.
An important change will be behavioural/attitudinal change or mindset change. Also, their (i.e., people living with disability) perspectives of self and life in general need to improve. There is a saying that there won’t be any significant change in the world until there is a mindset change. These are the most important changes I will like to see achieved through our work.
6. Do you have a final message for a budding social entrepreneur who is interested in your field of work?
We need local and international organizations or social enterprises on board to partner with us to change the lives of persons living with disabilities.
7. How can people connect with your social enterprise online?
They can contact The Challenged Foundation via:
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thechallengedfoundation