Costa Rican co-operative wins UN award for supporting workers with disabilities

The award was presented during a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York on 3 December

A co-operative in San José, Costa Rica, has received a Global Recognition Award from the United Nations for integrating people with disabilities in the labour market.

Coopesuperación took home the award in the Recruitment and Selection category. The business runs two customer service centres with 71 employees and plans to open a third site in the near future.

Its story started in 2008 when a group of people with disabilities decided to set up a co-op to provide employment opportunities for themselves and others in similar situations. Founding members Leonardo Rodríguez, Emiliano Solano, Luis Núñez, Enrique Contreras believed that a co-operative business model was best suited to empower people with disabilities, by enabling them to own and manage the business.

The co-op initially tried to run two projects, a factory and a customer support centre. The financial crisis prevented the manufacturing venture from being successful so the co-op focused all its efforts on the call centre.

Now a contractor for the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the co-op deals with enquiries around landline, mobile and broadband services.

Coopesuperación already has a number of national awards under its belt for providing equal opportunities and leading a policy of inclusiveness.

“It is a real privilege to receive this award, we are extremely proud of the work we have done and we are pleased to be able to empower people with disabilities,” managing director Julio Rojas told ICE.

The award was presented during a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York on 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Leaving no one behind is a key goal of the UN’s sustainable Development Goals. To mark the day, the UN published the Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities. The report shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most SDGs. It also gives examples of good practices that can create a more inclusive society, in which people with disabilities can live independently.

More than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimination,” UN secretary general António Guterres said on the day.

“On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realised.”

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