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South Africa: Creating Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Source: SA - the Good News
Source Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Focus: ICT for MDGs
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 14, 2013

Following these changes, the name DreamHouse was adopted with a recognised brand name and logo. The vision was for a brand name to be synonymous with high quality products made by people with disabilities so that the inclusion of “Workshop for the Blind” in the name would cease to be necessary.
“People with disabilities are often looked down on as if they are not capable of achieving much. For this reason, we always challenge and encourage our employees to try the impossible,” explains Emmie Boshoff, Managing Director.
Today the social enterprise comprises of four companies, three of which are registered as (Pty) Ltd enterprises. The purpose of the (Pty) Ltd Companies is to generate income for the Non-profit Section 21 supporting its drive to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including unskilled and previously disadvantaged members of the community. Shares in the companies are held by Pretoria Workshop for the Blind Trust, and all profits are used to further the mission of the Workshop.
The quality products and services that are in demand include:
• A wide range of cane products, repair of cane furniture and riempies, upholstery and curtains
• A selection of blinds, including Venetian and wooden Venetian blinds, bamboo and vertical blinds.
• Fertilizer sticks that feed pot plants for up to 100 days and a lot more.
Despite the great success and the positive impact the workshop is having, challenges still exist when finding on-going contracts to keep the workforce busy during slow seasons.
Emmie explains: “The main income of the organization is derived from the export of fertilizer sticks, but it is a seasonal product; resulting in a very quiet season from April to September every year.
During the peak season, up to 150 extra people are employed on a contract basis, to cope with the orders. During the quiet season, however, our own people are sent home with just a small allowance, with devastating financial implications for them.”
She continues “There are not enough opportunities in general for persons with disabilities in this country, especially for the middle age and older groups. There should be training facilities and career guidance for people with disabilities.”
Despite these obstacles, Emmie remains positive and always looking at ways of improving the success of DreamHouse. She adds that business support programmes such as Fetola’s Legends programme have been very helpful in terms of assisting the organisation to deal with these obstacles through access to mentorship, marketing advice, skills training workshops and a lot more.
“Legends has provided me the opportunity to go back and refresh the basics, review all systems, learn new approaches and at the same time train my staff with the knowledge gained.
This has filled me with fresh enthusiasm to look at the organization through a different lens,” concludes Emmie.
The Workshop prides itself on good quality products and service. Workers and staff strive hard to get rid of the myth that people with a disability should be viewed as “second class” by the public and the business sector. In line with this, the Workshop creates products and runs a showroom that will wow anyone who walks in.
To learn more about DreamHouse Workshop and their products visit www.dream-house.co.za or contact Emmie at emmie@dream-house.co.za
Written by Abram Molelemane
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