Persons with disabilities are often the poorest of the poor. This is according to the 2011 World Disability Report. Their disability has often been linked to their inability to access formal employment.
This is especially the case for those whose disability has rendered them immobile.
However things are taking a turn for the better thanks to a new online platform. Mr Fredrick Ouko has created Riziki Source, a mobile application that helps the disabled to look for jobs.
The platform, www.rizikisource.org, allows a disabled person looking for a job or internship in Kenya to use SMS to send the word ‘kazi’ to 21499 at a cost of Sh1.
Mr Ouko says the user is required to answer a set of questions through SMS. The answers are then aggregated into a profile of the client. The profile captures the type of disability, level of qualification, the job being sought, etc. The information is kept in a database.
The user is also required to send their CV either in soft copy for those who have access to Internet, or a hard copy which is then digitised.
Mr Ouko says, through the website any employer, the public and the administrator is able to know how many people with disabilities from various counties are actively looking for jobs or internships.
“We are therefore solving the problem of lack of a database that clearly shows how many people with disabilities are looking for work and their demographic so that there can be a coordinated approach towards helping them,” he adds.
YOU JUST NEED A PHONE NUMBER
Any disable person, even those in remote corners of the country, can send a message to the platform and the sender’s information will be captured and aggregated into the database that is hosted online for continuous references.
“You just need to have a phone number which the system identifies you with,” he says.
This service is provided at a small fee to employers. Companies that have signed up are trained on how to accommodate the disabled at their work places.
“We then plan to work with employers through strategic partnerships, marketing the service for them to use in their bid to find qualified individuals with disabilities who are looking for jobs.
On the other hand, employers with vacancies and are considering taking in persons with disabilities will send in their job offers for us to circulate to those registered with us,” he adds.
Mr Ouko came up with the innovation in September this year, after going through challenges in the past while looking for jobs.
“Being disabled it took me more than six years to get a job. At first it was blatant discrimination, then there was a difficulty in accessing available job opportunities ,” he says. He was also motivated by the conversation he had with employers who confessed not knowing how to reach qualified persons with disabilities.
“We were linking people directly before this initiative and We helped a lot of people to secure employment. So this is just a coordinated continuation of our previous work, only that now we are deploying technology to expand our reach,” he says.
Within a month since its inception, having moved online in mid-October, the project has already secured 37 registrations. He says the platform is making steady progress.