Meet Aisha Dirisu, winner of Donors for Africa Social Innovators Bootcamp (SIBC) reforming the world for people of special needs

Donors for Africa Foundation, a grant management nonprofit organisation leading change, organised the first digital social innovators boot camp in Africa, targeted at equipping and building the capacity of nonprofit professionals, social enterprises and impact led businesses who are solving some of the world’s biggest challenges Africa.

The competition held on the  23rd & 24th of July with Aisha Dirisu, founder of Peniel Foundation; a non-profit that empowers and advocates for youths living with disabilities to attain their full potential emerging the SIBC 2019/2020 winner. We sat with her to find out what the experience was like for her as well as her big plans having been brought to a new level:

How excited are you emerging the winner of the SIBC Pitch?

I was very excited about winning the Social Innovators Bootcamp Pitch. The competition was a tough one and there were 8 qualified finalists who were in one way or the other making great impact in the society.

Narrate your journey to emerging the winner

My journey began with being a member of the Donors for Africa inner circle, When I came across the SIBC application, I Knew I had to seize the opportunity following all the value I had gained during the inner circle program.

The SIBC was a very intensive program with various experts in the development field, where I learnt the process of running:

  • Sustainable non-profit organisation and leadership skills
  • Building an effective team
  • Implementing Proper organisation system and structure.

I submitted a pitch deck on Peniel Foundation’s project and 8 finalists were selected. The Finalist pitched their organisation’s work to a team of judges and the winner was selected.

What you do is definitely changing lives and narratives. Tell us about your work with persons living with disabilities. Is your work focused on only physical disabilities?

Peniel Foundation inspires, empowers and advocates for youths living with disabilities to fulfil their full potential by training them to become job ready, connect them with employers and help businesses become disability confident employers.

In lieu of the Covid-19 that hit the world, the organization launched the Peniel Live Series on Instagram, this is to inspire the youths with disabilities to aspire for greatness by inviting successful persons with disabilities from around the globe to show what’s possible and how they obtained their success.

Peniel Live Series had motivational speakers and Mental health experts speak to the youths with disabilities on maintaining an excellent mental health this season. We were able to reach over 500 viewers.

In December, 2019, we rolled out applications for our E-mentoring program which seeks to connect Youths living with disabilities to experts in various professional fields across the globe thereby empowering them with skills to become self-sufficient and connecting them to the various opportunities that abound to them. Our E-mentorship program officially kicked off in January, 2020 and we are currently mentoring over 50 youths with disabilities with the help of about 55 assigned mentors. three of the mentees are currently on internship with different organisations. One is now the Head of East Africa region in an international organisation.

In October, 2019, Peniel Foundation facilitated the Chevening Workshop in collaboration with the British High Commission (BHC) and Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM). There were over 74 participants present for the training from several states in Nigeria. One of the participants has been selected as a Chevening Scholar

To celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 18 2019, we partnered with Include Me Africa and AIIVON to organize a stakeholders’ forum where issues on inclusion of women with disabilities were discussed in entrepreneurship, employment, community development, and governance were discussed with solutions raised and submitted to stakeholders with over 55 participants in attendance.

In 2018, we organized a 2-day training program in October 2018, where over 50 youth living with disabilities were empowered with entrepreneurial and digital marketing skills.

We envision an inclusive African continent where persons with disabilities have access to decent jobs and opportunities to contribute to nation building

Has COVID-19 affected your work to such an extent that you have to rethink plans and postpone programs? Yes? Tell us about this.

At first there were a few hiccups in regards to the mental health of the youths with disabilities. However, we were not greatly affected as we were a step ahead of the pandemic in regards to some of our programs like the Peniel E-mentorship Program which kicked off before the pandemic hit. We continued mentoring and tutoring our mentees virtually.

Having won the SIBC Pitch, what big plans do you think the world should know?

Peniel Foundation is developing an accessible career network platform that connects youths with disabilities looking for a job to employers by training, coaching and e-mentoring to get them job ready with E-rating badges for disability employers.

This will help to:

  • Build confidence & self-esteem with our intensive training programs, they become more self-aware and gain confidence in their abilities
  • Financial Independence: they meet their needs and that of their family
  • Career Development:  we help them gain clarity on their career path
  • Diverse & Inclusive Workforce: more businesses will become disability inclusive in recruitment and company policies

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