Fellow Visits MN UCEDD from Kenya to Learn American Inclusive Employment Practices

June 10, 2019

Working in competitive employment is a long-term "and often difficult" goal for many people with disabilities. Those difficulties are even greater in developing countries like Kenya, but Daniel Mbugua Chege knows they can be overcome. "I believe in persistence," says Chege, an Inclusive Employment Fellow who established six community-based organizations in his native Kenya to reduce the stigmatization of people with disabilities while promoting their self-advocacy and economic self-reliance. He is spending a month at MN UCEDD, observing how these issues are addressed in the U.S. and searching for ideas that he can bring home.

The Fellowship is funded by AUCD and the U.S. Department of State. Chege lives in Kiambu County in Kenya where he works as Vice Chairperson of Murera Persons with Disability Welfare Association, a community-based organization committed to enabling its members, who have disabilities, to become self-reliant in the local economy. All of his organization's members have registered with the National Council for People with Disabilities in Kenya to advise disability policy in the country and help coordinate services. He previously worked with Kenya's National Council for Persons with Disabilities, the Self-Reliance Development Corporation, and Leeds Solutions. Chege believes information can liberate a community. Along with persistence, he sees information as the key difference between stagnant and mobile futures for Kenyans with disabilities. He also sees business opportunities as a means of community integration and a way to improve livelihoods and socially-valued roles.

Chege's Fellowship goal is to create a business hub in Kiambu County for low-skilled people with disabilities. The business hub will integrate people with disabilities with other skilled entrepreneurs who will help them earn skills. This strip mall model will include small businesses such as tailor shops, barber shops, salons, welding services, and small markets, with all employees supported by project staff. Kenya has devolved government authority to the local level and Chege considers this an opportunity to replicate this business model throughout the country.