I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the formation and planned launch of the Guyana Disabled Businesspersons Association Inc (GDBA) for the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s Republic Anniversary next year May 2016.
Taking inspiration from a similar and very successful organisation located in the US, the Disabled Businesspersons Association, which was founded by US army veteran Mr Urban Miyares, who overcame his disability challenges to become a very successful businessman and also in return positioned himself to help many other veterans and similarly disabled persons all across the world.
My personal life story of being made disabled for the past 7+ years from a construction fall, and that of many other disabled business owners in Guyana, is not as inspiring as Mr Miyares’ story, but many of us could safely say we have fought the good fight and overcome the odds to still be alive or in business. The challenges we face on a daily basis to survive and keep our businesses afloat could be daunting enough to force us to quit and pack up shop. Lately this seems like my only option, but I simply refuse to go down that road and will now do what is necessary to create a much better business environment for myself and fellow disabled businesspersons.
But this is not an option one would take knowing the hard work and long-term dedication that has to be put in to bring a business to fruition and viability over the years. In many instances it is a life and death situation – survival of the fittest. This new organisation (GDBA Inc) will now seek to put meaningful frameworks in place after wide consultations with all relevant stakeholders, especially all the government branches and ministries that will lay the foundation for present and future disabled businesspersons to start up, operate and develop any size of enterprise to make a real and meaningful contribution to Guyana’s future development.
It’s a known fact that doing business in Guyana, in most instances, is a real challenge and sometimes a disheartening experience for the most abled bodied person, so you can imagine what it is like for persons with
disabilities (PWDs), especially if they are trying to start a business. The stigma and heartlessness that is experienced from the general public from time to time serves as a deterrent to many seeking financial independence through the formation of a micro, small or medium business enterprise.
Some of the areas that the GDBA Inc will be engaging the government in are as follows:
- a) Engage the Guyana Revenue Authority to put in place more enhanced tax breaks and concessions to make the disabled owned businesses more viable and profitable.
- b) Engage NIS to waive some of the requirements to make the disabled owned businesses more efficient and effective ‒ eg, no more monthly application for a compliance certificate.
- c) Engage the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the City Engineer’s department to ensure that all public buildings and public spaces are fully compliant with the UN charters on accessibility.
- d) Engage the Ministry of Social Security to enhance the benefits given to the disabled person and their family as a whole.
- e) Engage on other areas of mutual interest to all stakeholders, especially the private business community.
With these and other issues in mind, I have taken the initiative to start this new organisation and put together a committee of likeminded persons. This organisation will be tailored not just to meet the needs of the disabled businessperson, but to also engage and include the immediate family members in a real and constructive way to enhance the operation and growth of such businesses all across Guyana, in every region. We are presently in the process of collecting data on all disabled businesspersons and we encourage persons with any such information to contact any one of the persons listed below.
All of this will be done in keeping with the local disability legislation and all the UN Conventions on Disability, which contain the following provisions:
“(x) Convinced that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State, and that persons with disabilities and their family members should receive the necessary protection and assistance to enable families to contribute towards the full and equal enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities,
“(y) Convinced that a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities will make a significant contribution to redressing the profound social disadvantage of persons with disabilities and promote their participation in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres with equal opportunities, in both developing and developed countries”.
Marlon N Noel – Founder/President
Oviah Setra Oselmo