Lead SALead SA

DWDE brings business and disability together

Written by: Sithandwa Ngwetsheni

With hundreds of candidates involved in their projects at any given time, the Disability Workshop Development Enterprise (DWDE) is helping to improve the lives of South African citizens with disabilities.

Based in Cape Town, DWDE offers disability employment support, to help integrate people with disabilities into the general workforce for the past 10 years. They work with businesses and assess their needs to help find suitable candidates. The candidates are in turn offered training and education opportunities. DWDE also encourages entrepreneurship with projects aimed at teaching candidates the skills required to start their own businesses.

2017 has been a particularly busy year for the organisation that’ve already completed three training programs for 80 candidates in partnership with the City of Cape Town.

16 people with disabilities from Phillipi East, Manenberg, Blue Downs, Hout Bay, Tokai, Khayelitsha, M/Plain, Philippi, Uitsig, Kraaifontein and West Bank were equipped with the skills to start their own sewing business in January. April saw another 16 candidates from Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Western District, Southern District, Northern District, Tygerberg, Eastern District and Klipfontein District receive training to start their own craft and beading businesses.

From January to March this year, 48 candidates from across the peninsula were given the chance to experience on the job mentorship while learning administrative skills for a number of different institutions.

Apart from these projects DWDE also employs people with disabilities to work at the Cape Town International Airport (ACSA) while 100 people will be employed through the Independent Development Trust’s Expanded Public Works Program over the next two years.

One of DWDE’s most successful initiatives is their Jobs Fund project which ran in three provinces from April 2013 until March 2016 with the aim of increasing the employability of people with disabilities and giving employers a better understanding of disability.

By the end of the project 1168 people had been permanently employed.DWDE beneficiary, Samuel Malusi from Khayelitsha, says he read about the organisation in his local newspaper. The 52-year-old, right arm amputee now works in Epping as a driver and delivers in- house manufactured school furniture. Malusi says the help he’s received from DWDE has made a huge difference to his standard of living.

“DWDE changed my life. I’m a working person now.”

Samuel Malusi

He says they also taught him not to undermine himself because of his disability.

24-year-old Tanya Galada from Hanover Park is equally thrilled to be working. Although she has psychiatric challenges, Tanya has been working at the Oasis bakery for four years. She got position through the Expanded Public Works program implemented by DWDE through the Independent Development Trust. “I’m part of the mainstream workforce and financially independent,” she says proudly.

“I’m part of the mainstream workforce and financially independent,”

Tanya Galada

Delft’s Siphokazi Qongqo, a 29-year-old with albinism, is based at the DWDE Claremont office as an intern. She mentions that she has gained confidence and got the chance to follow her dream of going back to school to improve her matric results.

“They make me feel important and like I’m also a human being.”

Siphokazi Qongqo

This is a sentiment shared by DWDE beneficiary, Felicity Valentyne, who’s been working at the Lady Michaelis Day Hospital in Plumstead. Valentyne says her dealings with the organisation have been “most fulfilling” and that their staff are some of the kindest, most understanding people she’s ever known. Valentyne is 65 and suffers from mental illness. “They see what I do as valuable and have unwavering confidence in my abilities to make a contribution. This has enriched me more than I can describe.”

“They see what I do as valuable and have unwavering confidence in my abilities to make a contribution. This has enriched me more than I can describe.”

Felicity Valentyne

57-year-old Deliwe Mashaba from Gugulethu recycles hangers for a living and has been involved with DWDE’s self-help groups for quite some time. The leg amputee says the organisation has taught her a marketable skill as long as the business savvy to become part of a business cooperative.



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