PR KARACHI - The Network of Organisations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan hosted the finale of Project Khud Mukhtar - a business idea competition for differently abled persons - at Institute of Business Administration, Saddar Campus on Monday.

This project of NOWPDP - a disability inclusion initiative - was initiated to economically empower persons with disabilities and is being executed in partnership with Planet N Group and IBA AMAN-CED (Center for Entrepreneurial Development).

More than 30 persons with disabilities were shortlisted from an initial pool of 100+. Men and women with physical, visual and hearing impairment, from across the port city, presented their business ideas to the jury in group and individual form.

These individuals underwent various stages to refine their business plans and prepare for the finale, especially in the mentorship phase where experienced entrepreneurs from Karachi were assigned to them for guidance and knowledge-sharing. NOWPDP president Amin Hashwani remarked, “Independence relies on opportunities created, availed and the subsequent drive to capitalise on these.”

He added: “With high rates of unemployment and low levels of literacy preventing the disenfranchised from truly becoming contributing members of society, there is a need to encourage grass root innovation through entrepreneurship.

“We hope that Khud Mukhtar is the first of many steps to create an eco-system that encourages persons with disabilities to think outside the realm of conventional job opportunities and to instill a sense of self-belief that they too can thrive.” "10xC and PlanetN Group are very excited to support entrepreneurship with NOWPDP at the grassroots level,” said Saif Akhtar, CEO 10xC.

By partnering with NOWPDP, 10xC is able to identify those entrepreneurs early and help them reach heights otherwise more difficult to achieve, he added.

Razi Abbas - a shortlisted potential entrepreneur with physical impairment summed it up accurately, “Persons with disabilities can do anything - you must possess this thinking.

“It is not just about progressing in our careers but also doing something for our families and choosing a different employment path (self-employment). Everyone must try.”

NOWPDP was established in 2008 as a disability inclusion initiative, operating in the areas of education and economic empowerment for persons with disabilities through its dedicated programs, Dastoor and Yaqeeen, and other interventions.

Its mandate focuses on capacity building at an individual, institutional and societal level; raising awareness about challenges faced by persons with disabilities; advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities; and facilitating opportunities for economic empowerment of persons with disabilities.