A Walk in Their Shoes
If anyone were to meet a youth with an eye-disability, they would be unsure whether they’d be able to repair a shoe or even make a shoe at that! Meet these three youth who have gone against the wind and societal norms, and operating a fully-fledged business as their disabilities don’t define them.
About a year and a half ago, Chrisitan and Pacifique found themselves embarking on a new journey as HDAK Youth. They joined trainings of WRN & BYOB with hopes of finding the right career for themselves and to improve their standards of living. During their training, they met Daniel as they made site visits to a potential employers ( This is a very important aspect of the WRN curriculum to ensure that youth can gain experience before beginning a career in their respective trades of interest). Daniel trained them on how to repair and make shoes, and from there, they interests in creating a shoe-making business peaked.
As mentioned above, these youth have disabilities. They are supported by the The Umbrella of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in fighting against HIV/AIDS and for Health Promotion (UPHLS). During their BYOB trainings, the youth learned about personal development plans (PDPs), and with the support of UPHLS began creating a plan in which they would start their own shoe-business (including a start-up kit with investment capital). They ended up partnering with their trainer Daniel, and now have a shop in the main isoko in COKO Sector.
The challenges that these youth face are unique to their identities as persons with disabilities and also as new entrepreneurs. Some of the challenges they face include living far from their shop and traveling to work with disabilities; traveling far distances with their disabilities affects their efficiency as a small business because they arrive to their shop later than they would desire, and thus, reducing the clock-time they need to operate at full capacity. Additionally, they struggle with economic environmental factors such as predicting when material prices for things such as rubber and wax will rise and also relaying that information to their customers. This is a classical example of asymmetric information in the marketplace.
But despite these challenges, the youth have been able to grow individually and contribute to the overall success of their business. Christian explained that the WRN training have taught the skills of quality product production, time-efficiency, upkeeping products; and Pacific believe that the trainings along with being in the business environment have helped him hone in on the sills of money management and marketing to customers.
Looking ahead, these youth have bright goals for their future. They are many shoe-makers in their community that they look to as role models, including Daniel, their master shoe-trainer; within the next five years, they aspire to continue to grow under the guide of these shoe-makers and open a shoe-factory with advanced technology.