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The week long Exhibition-cum-Fair “EKAM Fest” organized by National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) under M/o Social Justice< Empowermentbegan today at State Emporia Complex, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi-1.Union Minister for Social Justice < Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for RT<Hand MEME Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari and Union Minister for Women and Child Development and Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Iranigraced theoccasion. Ministers of State for SJ<amp; providing a major marketing opportunity to PwDs entrepreneurs. NHFDC is making efforts for development of a brand and platform for marketing of products of these determined entrepreneurs. Accordingly, name of the brand has been arrived at Ekam (Entrepreneurship, Knowledge, Awareness, Marketing).The word Ekam also represents the inclusiveness, oneness and unity which appropriately describe the efforts being put in by NHFDC to develop the marketing platform and aggregation of the products through promotion of entrepreneurship, knowledge sharing, Awareness creation and marketing initiatives amongst the Divyangjan. It is an opportunity for all to encourage these products made with extra ordinary determination by the divyang crafts persons and entrepreneurs.

Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari in his address said that the high quality of products displayed in the Ekam Fest proves that the Divyangjan artisans and entrepreneurs have enormous potential and capability and they can play an important role in the overall development of our country. MSME sector has very vast potential of employment and self-employment and Divyangjan, especially women Divyangjan artisans can take advantage of various useful schemes of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprizes. He assured full cooperation of his ministry in this regard to Divyangjan.

Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani in her address said that Divyangjan artisans and entrepreneursare displaying their skills with products ranging from handicrafts, handloom and embroidery work. Indian traditional clothes have a very rich history and are in high demand in our country and abroad and offer vast potential of employment. Since women have contributed a lot in the embroidery work, NHFDC should encourage Divyangjan, especially women Divyangjan for entrepreneurship in this sector so that Divyangjan may get employment and self-employment. There should be coordination among all Ministries and department for the welfare of Divyangjan.

The new initiatives of NHFDC launched in Fest are as follows:-

NHFDC Swavalamban Kendra (NSK): NHFDC has taken an initiative to establish PWD owned micro skill training Centers throughout the country for skill training of PwDs. These NSKs will have a capacity to provide quality skill training to around 120 PwDs per year NSK. The PwD owner of the NSK is expected to earn around Rs 20,000 per month.

Safe Cabs in Delhi and Indore: NHFDC has made arrangement with Sakha Cabs where the PwD owned commercial vehicles will be driven by the Women drivers to provide safe taxi option for the women, children and senior citizen commuters. Such Safe cabs are already in operation at New Delhi and Indore Airport. The vehicles here are financed by NHFDC under its scheme.

Safe Drinking Water E Carts: NHFDC has recently agreed to finance E-carts fitted with RO water dispensing vending machines. These carts will sell water in paper glasses maintaining the hygiene. The carts will be supported in operation by Bharat Jal. The PwD owner is expected to earn Rs 10,000/- to Rs 15,000/- per month in the operation of these carts.

In the first Ekam Fest, Divyang Entrepreneur and Artisans from all over the country have been invited with representation from J<K to Puducherry and from Nagaland to Gujarat. TheFest presentsvibrant products of from J< Empowerment and is working since 1997. It is registered as a company not for profit and provides financial assistance to the Divyangjan/Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan/PwDs) for their economic rehabilitation and provides number of skill development programmes to empower them to grow < sustain their enterprises. To empower the Divyang and marginalized groups of the society more closely, NHFDC has taken a step forward and established NHFDC Foundation, this year. Recognizing the absence of a connect with the market which hinders fair prices and volumes in sale of the unorganized tiny Divyang entrepreneurs, NHFDC Foundation is making efforts for development of a brand and platform for marketing of products of these determined entrepreneurs.