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Wheelchairs for Nigeria – Giving the Disabled a New Livelihood

News + Events : Wheelchairs for Nigeria – Giving the Disabled a New Livelihood


On April 25, 2012, Ayuba Gufwan, head of the nonprofit Wheelchairs for Nigeria, gave a talk to Professor Denise Kleinrichert’s Sustainability and Business Opportunity class at the SF State Downtown Campus.

Wheelchairs for Nigeria runs a small shop of 25 employees in Jos, Nigeria, building hand-powered tricycles for polio survivors that have lost the use of their legs. Ayuba spoke of Nigeria having the highest rate of polio affliction in the world, and the plight of children and young adults that are left crawling on the ground with no means of mobility. Unable to go to school or work, these children are largely considered throw-aways and a burden to their families and society. Normally, they would go on to make a living by begging in the streets.

Wheelchairs for Nigeria is trying to change this problem by providing the disabled with a hand tricycle that not only gives them their mobility back, but also a means to run a business and be self-sustaining. Ayuba described various enterprises that tricycle riders have been successful with, from peddling food and phone cards to offering cell phone charging, watch repair, and transportation services. However, Wheelchairs for Nigeria doesn’t just hand out tricycles to the disabled. The conditions for receiving a trike include finishing school for children, and getting vocational training for adults. By doing so, the nonprofit hopes to impart the disabled with the skills necessary to lead a successful and productive life.

Ayuba is himself a polio survivor who was forced to drop out of the 4th grade due to mobility issues. Thanks to a wheelchair his uncle built him at age 19, Ayuba reenrolled in school, and after overcoming tremendous obstacles managed to complete his education, eventually going on to earn a law degree. When he isn’t running his tricycle-building shop in Jos, he is traveling to the US, Europe, and Canada to raise awareness and funding for his nonprofit.

Students in the Sustainability and Business Opportunity class have been studying how businesses can alleviate global poverty by providing the developing world with products and services they need, which in turn raises the standard of living and productivity of its residents. Ayuba’s talk provided some real world context for the triumphs and struggles of global poverty alleviation.

To learn more, see Wheelchairs for Nigeria.

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