Xizang works to make business more accessible for people with disabilities

(Xinhua) 15:26, December 04, 2023

LHASA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- At a factory in Lhasa, the capital of southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, wheelchair user Jole inspects finished goods while his employees, many of whom have disabilities, carry out their work around him.

Jole, 36, is the founder of a company that sells Tibetan calligraphy stationery. He began using a wheelchair after an accident paralyzed him from the waist down when he was in university 14 years ago.

He said the accident had almost destroyed him. After years of inner conflict, he began to seek positive change to embrace a new way of life. "I always felt like a burden to my family. It was time to lift myself up," he said.

In 2011, Jole attended a job fair organized by the local disabled persons' federation. He submitted over 20 resumes but received no responses. It was then that the young man had the idea to start his own business.

Amid economic challenges, Jole embarked on his entrepreneurial journey with starting capital of 70,000 yuan (about 9,800 U.S. dollars) from his family, and an additional 85,000 yuan in government support.

Fueled by a passion for Tibetan calligraphy, Jole established his own company Tuogang in 2016. The name is a transliteration of the Tibetan word for "plateau" and symbolizes the expansion of opportunities in Mandarin. He aspired to provide more opportunities for individuals with disabilities like himself, he said.

Today, his company employs 42 people, 27 of whom have disabilities. Among that number is 22-year-old Lhapa Dondrup, who has brittle bone disease and has defied doctors' predictions that he wouldn't live past the age of 20. He now manages online operations at Tuogang.

"Jole is my role model. I also used to see myself as a burden to my family and society, but now I feel confident in supporting myself with my own two hands," he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Jole emphasized the importance of support from both his family and the government. "My elder brother once told me that when they provided financial support for my business, my family did not expect big success, but wanted me to walk out of the shadows and have the strength and courage to face a new life," he recalled, noting that the government's support had helped him further.

In 2021, the government provided a grant of 420,000 yuan to support Jole's company in launching Tibetan calligraphy classes -- a significant expansion of his business.

Data shows that over the past five years, Xizang has invested 900 million yuan in subsidies for disabled people. In 2020, the region established its first employment and entrepreneurship park for people with disabilities, fostering the establishment of 25 companies employing over 300 people with disabilities, with 11 of these companies headed by disabled entrepreneurs.

"As long as you don't give up on yourself, life will always be filled with hope," Jole said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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