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close this bookSelf-Employment for Disabled People - Experiences from Africa and Asia (ILO, 1989, 100 p.)
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”

Institutions should be local and flexible

Many of the rehabilitation institutions in our sample appear to be small and to operate on a local level. Those that are larger usually have numbers of relatively independent branches, whether they be run by government or by voluntary agencies, and this means that they are close to the people they are trying to help.

The general experience of small enterprise assistance agencies, particularly those working with the poorer members of society, is that you have to be small and poor to help poor people to start small enterprises. Voluntary agencies are generally poorer and always smaller than governments, and the few very critical reports from the interviewers related mainly to government institutions which were unable to adapt flexibly to the needs of their clients. Voluntary organisations seem in general to be more effective at this type of work than governments.

There are many advantages in a diversity of funding sources, including earnings from the sale of goods or services produced by trainees in the course of their rehabilitation. Scarcity of resources, together with concern for tangible results rather than mere institutional survival, means that the most effective rehabilitation training is as brief as possible and is related to the needs of the market and the wishes of the trainees rather than to the facilities and skills of the institution.

We have already referred to the tremendous diversity of types of enterprise; the types of training should reflect this diversity rather than attempting to force trainees into an inappropriate but institutionally convenient mould, and this probably means that the institution itself will have the facilities and the staff to train only a small proportion of its trainees. The remainder will have to be trained in an ad hoc manner; none of the institutions in our survey mentioned the use of existing enterprises as places for training, but experience shows that established business people are usually very happy to allow others to train with them, as in traditional apprenticeship schemes, through which many of the disabled entrepreneurs in our case studies received their training.

Some business people may accept trainees for nothing, out of good will and as a source of free labour; others may demand a small fee, while still others may be willing to pay a nominal wage. In any case, if the training businesses are properly selected and supervised, the training is likely to be more relevant and less expensive than can be provided within an institution. Large numbers of co-operating training businesses may not be as impressive as neat and well-equipped workshops, but they are probably far more effective.