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close this bookSelf-Employment for Disabled People - Experiences from Africa and Asia (ILO, 1989, 100 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction: What is this book about?
close this folder1. The purpose of this book
View the documentChallenging myths and attitudes
View the documentProviding encouragement
View the documentChanging rehabilitation approaches
View the documentWhom is the book for?
close this folder2. Self-employment - An option for disabled people
View the documentDefining the terms
View the documentSelf-employment is not for everyone
View the documentWhy self-employment?
View the documentThe position of the disabled
View the documentDiscouragement from self-employment
View the documentMotivation for self-employment
View the documentWorking together
close this folder3. Disabled entrepreneurs: Case studies
close this folderThe sample
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderGroup I: Enterprises still receiving assistance
View the documentMary Gwande: The Jerusalem Tailors' Co-operative
View the documentThe Oyugis Sheltered Workshop
View the documentJambo's Shoe Repair business
View the documentMomodou Njie: The miller
View the documentCommentary: Group I
close this folderGroup II: Enterprises which received assistance
View the documentBabu Suryawanshi's dairy farm
View the documentThe Rainbow Kiosk
View the documentBinti Manoa's dressmaking school
View the documentFely Lucas: pavement vendor
View the documentBob Sabio and Sons: Figurines
View the documentCommentary: Group II
close this folderGroup III: Independent entrepreneurs
View the documentJosť Ocasla: Watch repairing
View the documentLamin Sambou: The tailor
View the documentAgripa Mutetsa's watch repairs
View the documentNazir Hakim's auto-rickshaw
View the documentManuel Tan: Waysonics Radio/TV Tutorship
View the documentGeorge Karasa: The Museka Butchery and General Store
View the documentMang Tibong: Miniature musical instruments
View the documentCommentary: Group III
View the documentNote
close this folder4. What do disabled entrepreneurs need?
View the documentProblems of the disabled self-employed
View the documentProblems before starting
View the documentShortage of capital
View the documentMarketing
View the documentOther problems
close this folder5. What is being done for disabled entrepreneurs?
View the documentOrganisations and their funding
View the documentClients and the objectives of rehabilitation
View the documentThe training offered
View the documentDuration of training
View the documentCapital
View the documentMarketing
View the documentFollow-up
close this folder6. Lessons to be learned
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSelf-employment is not for everyone
View the documentThe disabled are not very different from other people
View the documentInstitutions should be local and flexible
View the documentFinance may be granted but loans must be repaid
View the documentAssistance must “bridge the gap”
close this folder7. Some thoughts for planners
View the documentThe global scene
View the documentSelf-reliance versus dependence
View the documentRethinking planning priorities
View the documentAnnex I. Guide-lines for assistance to self-employment
View the documentAnnex II. Institutions surveyed
View the documentAnnex III. Further reading
View the documentOther ILO publications
View the documentBack cover

Why self-employment?

There are a number of different ways in which people can attain economic independence. Self-employment is only one of them and must be compared with alternatives by disabled people themselves and by anyone who is trying to assist them to support themselves fully or in part. It would be altogether wrong if this book were to encourage institutions and policy-makers to promote self-employment as a universal solution, or even as a limited one, if the disabled people or the environment are not appropriate.

The unemployed person seeking employment in private business or government is fundamentally dependent on somebody else deciding to employ him or her. Self-employment is basically different; the unemployed person decides to start an enterprise, however small, and although its success depends on other people being willing to buy from and sell to it, for whatever motives, the decision to start it depends on the individual concerned.

Jobs on the open labour market become more and more scarce. Self-employment may therefore be the only practicable option for many people; however, there are many other reasons why this option, and the myriad of small enterprises that result from people choosing it, are a good thing for national development. This applies whether the entrepreneur is disabled or not; there are certain reasons, which we shall shortly examine, why this option is particularly suitable for disabled people, and others why it is particularly difficult.

In economic terms, self-employment represents possibly the most cost-effective way of creating jobs. The capital requirements are usually very small; perhaps the commonest form of new enterprise is the market vendor whose “fixed capital” may amount to no more than a basket or a sheet of plastic on which to display whatever is sold and whose “working capital” probably consists of sales worth no more than a day, half a day or even an hour. Such enterprises often “squat” on the verandas of existing businesses, or on roadsides or open ground without using any costly infrastructure.

New manufacturing, trading or service enterprises use a minimum of capital and a maximum amount of labour because the objective of the entrepreneur is often to buy a job; necessarily, he or she will keep the cost of the job in terms of capital requirements as low as possible. Since one of the common features of developing countries is their shortage of capital and surplus of labour, any form of employment creation which makes minimum use of the former and maximum use of the latter is clearly to be preferred.

There are other arguments in favour of new small enterprises as a form of economic growth and employment creation. Transport facilities for people and for merchandise in most developing countries are often overloaded and unreliable, and they use scarce foreign resources in terms of vehicles and fuel. A person wanting to start a business will be likely to do it near to or actually in his or her own home. Working for other people, unless it is within a family enterprise, almost inevitably involves travelling, often for long distances from peripheral squatter locations to central industrial areas or business districts.

These enterprises also tend to use readily available materials and to sell to local people; this means that they make still lower demands on transport facilities than enterprises which draw their employees and materials from long distances and which sell to customers in other parts of the country or even abroad.

Small businesses usually start where people live and continue to be local. They also provide goods and services which are economical, in terms both of cost and of the places and times where they are available. They are therefore appropriate in that they produce goods that poor people need at prices they can afford and when and where they need them. Planners, and the wealthy minority whose cars are delayed in streets crowded with vendors and small repair shops and manufacturers, may be irritated by these small enterprises, but the majority benefit by selling to them, buying from them and working in them.

Such enterprises do not usually earn foreign exchange by exporting, although handicrafts are often bought by foreign tourists; they do, however, save foreign exchange by making the maximum use of local equipment and materials. More importantly perhaps, they rarely, if ever, make any demands on foreign expertise and finance. Even when the entrepreneur is able to take advantage of special assistance schemes, the amount of capital used for each job created is almost always less than for larger enterprises. Such businesses are also necessarily appropriate in terms of the skills they demand of their owners. Vendors and roadside mechanics may not manage their enterprises with business school skills or employ the latest high technology methods, but they do make the optimum use of local labour as well as physical resources.

Finally, enterprises which are started by local people, particularly in rural areas, tend to be enterprises involving the whole family. The mutual support and security that this system provides makes it particularly suitable for disadvantaged groups.