Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has announced plans to accelerate the inclusion of persons with disabilities into formal employment and across its entire value chain in the company. The brewer has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Inclusive Futures partner, Sightsavers that’s geared towards mainstreaming the inclusion of persons with disabilities into the business.
Unemployment and poverty have been identified as the major challenges facing persons with disabilities in Kenya. Labour Market Assessment commissioned by Sightsavers shows that persons with disabilities constitute less than 2% of the workforce in Kenya.
Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Labour, Simon Chelugui, noted that empowering persons with disabilities economically is a human right. He rooted for a more inclusive society to ensure a more productive society. The Persons with Disability Bill (2013) seeks that 5% of contractual and casual jobs in the country be reserved for persons with disabilities.
“Empowered persons with disabilities can compete equitably in the job market and contribute to the country’s economic growth. It is crucial that companies adopt practices and policies designed to identify and remove barriers that hamper persons with disabilities’ full participation in economic activities, both in the formal and informal sectors. We commend KBL and Sightsavers for the great work they are doing to ensure the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the workforce”, said Chelugui.
KBL Managing Director, John Musunga affirmed the company’s commitment to helping the government reach and surpass this target. “We are committed to creating an inclusive, collaborative culture that benefits both society and our business. We recognize the underrepresentation of people living with disabilities in employment and supply chains across businesses. As a result, we are keen on mapping opportunities for inclusion along our value chain and shaping market-leading policies and practices in a bid to empower them and improve their livelihoods. Through this partnership, we will sustainably absorb persons with disabilities into the core business opportunities in the value chain,” he said.
Representing Inclusive Futures, the Sightsavers Country Director Moses Chege said, “Partnerships are vital for driving forward the inclusion of all people – both within Kenya and globally. We are particularly excited about the working relationship we have built with KBL over the years in their quest to empower persons with disabilities and create an inclusive society. What we achieve will be used to demonstrate to other industries and governments how to improve employment of persons with disabilities and demonstrate the need to strengthen labour rights for everyone.”
Two years ago, KBL and Sightsavers launched a pilot programme in Homa Bay county aimed at onboarding farmers with disabilities into the sorghum value chain. This was through mobilization of persons with disabilities, inclusive recruitment, and ensuring compliance with applicable laws.
The pilot programme equipped 71 farmers with disabilities with the skills and resources to grow and supply sorghum, with a total of 76.5 acres put under cultivation for use in the production of Senator Keg beer. The programme is now in its second phase under the Global Labour Program – Inclusive Futures.
Formally launched in March 2022, the programme is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and brings together eight Kenyan and global organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade unions, and organizations of people with disabilities (OPDs) to work with KBL.
This is a five-year programme that will impact more than 705 farmers with disabilities across eight sub-counties in western Kenya and later one county in eastern Kenya. It aims to not only improve inclusion and labour rights for people who are often marginalized but for everyone working across the supply and distribution chains.
“As a person with disabilities in Kenya, I am excited for the opportunity to earn a decent living and prove that we can contribute to Kenya’s economy. Courtesy of this programme, I have been able to pay for my children’s school fees and carry out some development projects in my home. Things that were initially difficult and stressful are now possible. I’m a living testimony that I did it and I succeeded.” Paul Omullo, a sorghum farmer from Rangwe in Homabay County.