For these women entrepreneurs, disabilities were never a barrier

Navigating life as a differently abled person in a country like India, which isn’t exactly known for its accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), is difficult. However, not only are some people doing it with great dignity and elan, they also have the purpose and zeal to bring about change
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While the entrepreneurial ecosystem is buzzing with innovative concepts for the common folks, there are entrepreneurs with disabilities creating awareness and transforming lives for particularly disadvantaged sectors. 

As part of HerStory’s Women Entrepreneurship Day coverage, we introduce you to some remarkable women entrepreneurs with disabilities. These women are running incredible ventures raising awareness on various issues disabled people face daily.

Nidhi Goyal, founder and executive director - Rising Flame 

Nidhi Goyal, founder and executive director - Rising Flame 

Nidhi was only 15 when she started to lose her eyesight due to an incurable, irreversible progressive degenerative eye condition that rendered her blind. However, after beginning a career in mass media and later turning to activism and advocacy work around sexuality and sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls with disabilities for decades, she recently founded Rising Flame in 2017. The organisation works towards enabling people with disabilities, particularly women and youth with disabilities, to find a voice, space and build leadership and advocacy.

The non-profit organisation strives to build an inclusive world in which diverse bodies, minds, and voices thrive with dignity; live free of discrimination, abuse, and violence; and enjoy equal opportunities and access. 

Nidhi is also India’s first female disabled stand-up comedian and uses humour to challenge prevailing notions about disability and gender. Her work on disability, gender, diversity, and inclusion has made its way into many corporate offices and policy spaces.

Vidhya Y, founder – Vision Empower 

Vidhya Y, founder – Vision Empower 

Vidhya has been blind since birth but that didn’t deter her from excelling academically. From being discouraged for opting for science in 11th grade to topping her class in MSc Digital Society from the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru (IIIT-B), Vidhya amazed everyone in 2017. 

A year later, she co-founded Vision Empower to help other blind people live better life. According to media reports, through her organisation, Vidhya aims to develop as many software as possible for the blind community to help them participate in the society and get equal opportunities. And towards this, Vision Empower has been providing learning resources to blind schools across Karnataka since 2018. Vidhya created these tutorials based on her own extensive research to bring much-needed knowledge to blind people in need.

Remya Raj, founder - DAAD 

Remya Raj, founder - DAAD 

Founder and CEO at Digital Arts Academy for the Deaf (DAAD) LLP, Remya Raj started her venture in 2018 using a seed fund of Rs 1 lakh granted by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM). DAAD is an edtech product company that focuses on delivering accessible technical education to the deaf across India. Many of these people are under the age of 30 years.

“Our vision is to make every deaf person a contributor to the world around him and offer access to technical education,” Remya Raj, CEO and Founder of DAAD, tells HerStory.

Hailing from Thiruvanathapuram, Remya was born deaf. With a lot of support and care from her parents, she completed her early education from a school for the deaf at a small village called Valakom. She went on to do a bachelor’s in economics from St Thomas College, Kozhencherry, and later worked at an IT firm as a business analyst before turning to entrepreneurship.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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