On December 21, 2021, Indigenous Innovation (I2) Advocacy Initiative – a selected seed-funding recipient from the CIPE Civic Engagement Hub’s Pitch Competition – held a half-day policy roundtable to promote a constructive environment for People with Disabilities (PWD) in the innovation arena in Ethiopia. The event was attended by a total of 52 participants from the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, the Technology Innovation Institute, incubation centers, the Federation of People with Disabilities, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and other invited guests. At the event, I2 presented their findings and corresponding policy recommendations from an assessment of the availability of innovation infrastructure for people with disabilities in Ethiopia.
During the roundtable, I2 organized a panel discussion titled “Access and Inclusiveness for PWD in the Innovative Arena of Ethiopia” that featured two panelists: Alemtsehay Dersolegne, Director of the New Job Creation and Projects Directorate at the Ministry of Labour and Skills, and Dr. Yirgashewa Bekele, Director of the Special Needs Center at Addis Ababa University. The panelists shared the strategies and actions required to promote the constructive inclusion of People with Disabilities (PWD) in the innovation arena in Ethiopia. At the end of the panel, participants of the event posed questions to the panelists and shared their own recommendations. Event participants shared that they felt greatly encouraged by the initiative taken by I2 and their inclusion in the advocacy event. Specific recommendations were outlined for government, business incubators, and NGOs as a way forward. On the sideline of the advocacy event, I2 also conducted an Inclusive Solutions Bazaar that allowed ten PWD to showcase their products at the event.