Published on 3 December 2013
The inaugural ceremony for the ESCAP-Sasakawa Award for Disability-Inclusive Business in Asia and the Pacific presented its first Winners today. Three companies were awarded for outstanding achievement in responding to the needs of persons with disabilities in their business operations.
Disability-Inclusive Business is a pioneering concept that views persons with disabilities as an untapped workforce and a market with significant purchasing power. Persons with disabilities account for 15 per cent of the world’s population. In Asia-Pacific, there are over 650 million persons with disabilities. It also makes economic sense for businesses to adapt their products and services to cater to this underserved market.
“By addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, we can lift people out of poverty and provide them with a dignified life, while developing new – and expanding present – market shares,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Winner of the Disability-inclusive multinational enterprise category, WIPRO, an India-based company operating globally, was awarded for its excellence in including employees with disabilities in its business operations, enabling mainstream careers for them and for supporting them through accessible software applications. “Our disability-inclusive business model was formalized in 2009,” said Mr. Isaac George, Vice-President, Human Resources. “It has proved to be very successful for our employees as well as our customers.”
The Winner of the Disability-inclusive national or subnational enterprise category, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, received their award in recognition of their productivity enhancing recruitment and training practices.“Thirteen per cent of our current workforce are persons with disabilities and we aim to increase this share to 20 per cent within the next three years,” said Mr. Jagdeep Thakral, General Manager of the Hotel. “Providing long-term sustainable livelihoods has proven to be a mutually beneficial business model for the Hotel.”
The Winner of the Disability-inclusive entrepreneurial business category, Trash to Cash is a company based in India that recycles waste material into marketable products. “Sixty five per cent of our workforce is comprised of persons with disabilities,” said Ms. Madhumita Puri, Chief Executive Officer. “In combination with our environmentally conscientious approach, this business model is not only profitable, it is sustainable.”
As part of the Award, Trash to Cash will receive a grant of between USD 50,000-100,000 to scale up its business model in 10 other cities in India.
The ESCAP-Sasakawa Award for Disability-Inclusive Business in Asia and the Pacific was established by ESCAP, The Nippon Foundation (TNF) and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD).