Insightful Regional Community of Practices

6 May 2024 - kathmandu

By Rashi Maharjan

For those of you who are wondering, what is the status of the Gender and Disability Inclusive (GDI) project, I have some wonderful news for you. 

Firstly, we have finished our Regional Community of Practice (RCOP). Now, what is RCOP one might wonder. A Community of Practice (CoP) is a platform that brings together diverse stakeholders to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices. By creating a platform for collaboration and learning, a CoP can facilitate the exchange of ideas and the development of innovative solutions to common challenges. This can be particularly valuable in the context of supporting underserved entrepreneurs, such as women with disabilities, by providing a forum for discussing and addressing the specific barriers they face. In addition, a CoP facilitates collective knowledge and feedback collection to ensure the research captures a diverse range of perspectives at both the local and regional levels.

Three sessions in a regional CoP under this project brought together individuals from the three partnering Impact Hubs, UNESCAP, ESOs, disability support organizations, and funders/investors with experience supporting disability-focused entrepreneurs and businesses to discuss best practices over the span of three months, virtually meeting thrice in total. Through regular meetings and ongoing engagement, the RCoP helped build a strong and supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs with disabilities. It also proved to be a space for innovative ideas, and spotlight some of the creative methods that organizations had been practicing in the region. 

Here are some glimpses of the RCOPS:

The discussions centered around the challenges faced by persons with disabilities (PWDs) in accessing financial opportunities, particularly focusing on capacity-building in financial literacy and securing business development opportunities and funding. The exploration extended to understanding inclusive financial support, encompassing loans, grants, and investments, and how these mechanisms can be tailored to be more inclusive of gender and disability considerations. Key inquiries included identifying the critical factors facilitating access to finance for Women Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (WEDs), addressing common biases they encounter, especially within financial institutions, and devising strategies to debias financing to ensure gender and disability inclusivity across the financial landscape.

Secondly, following the RCOPs, and local research, a global report summarizing all these elements was drafted. To validate the findings of the research a validation workshop was conducted based on reviews and a virtual validation workshop. The validation workshop provided critical insights and validation of our inclusive approach. The highlights included critical elements of inclusion, selection sample for the research and voting towards which of the recommendations were important. 

And Finally, the core research team is going to meet in Thailand for the Feminist Finance Forum (FFF). The team will be facilitating sessions based on, but not limited to the GDI project. The themes of the workshop will be:

  • Actions towards Countering Bias: Perception, Mindset, Ableism – destigmatize/right-based approach (individuals / advocates CSOs) – Practical self / organizational reflection, tangible assessment can share with the team
  • Assess your current inclusion policy: Assessment of your infrastructure & service / products (governments & central banks)
  • How to update your organization for Inclusion: Accessibility strategy for digital communication and physical events and programs
  • Financial Innovations for Inclusion: Aligning tailored solutions (de-risking, vehicles, specific funds) with broad access to all financial services products (policy makers, banks, & CSOs)
  • Financial Innovations for Inclusion: Aligning tailored solutions (de-risking, vehicles, specific funds) with broad access to all financial services products (policy makers, banks, & CSOs)