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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”

Finance may be granted but loans must be repaid

It would be inappropriate to generalise on the basis of so little evidence, and every institution and indeed every prospective self-employed disabled man or woman is different and requires a different “package” of assistance. There does appear, however, to be a good case for making grants rather than loans, at least for people who are starting an enterprise for the first time. These grants should be modest and should preferably be in kind rather than in cash.

Loans are more appropriate for those who need money for expansion or to enter a new business in addition to an already established one, as so many of the people in our case studies wish to do. It is vital that a loan programme should be a serious and rigourously managed enterprise in its own right with commercial rates of interest. Prospective borrowers should be helped if necessary to appraise their proposals carefully, but they should be made to realise that they will have to repay, whatever may happen, and that the lending institution will have to take steps to recover its money if repayments are not made in time.

Social pressure may be a more effective incentive to repay than threats from the lender, particularly if it comes from fellow members of a revolving loan scheme who demand repayments so that they can in their turn benefit from a loan. No mention was made of this type of scheme, perhaps because many if not most disabled people are relatively isolated from one another, but it might be appropriate to try to implement such a scheme as a source of working capital and expansion finance for a trial group of disabled self-employed people, perhaps building on any informal associations of ex-trainees of a rehabilitation institution that are working in the same area.

The prospective able-bodied self-employed are usually selected partly at least on the basis of their emotional suitability, which includes self-confidence. Disabled people often suffer from a lack of self-confidence that may be even more debilitating than the disability itself. This may be the most critical difference between the assistance needs of the disabled and of other people, and it calls for close personal contact and sensitive encouragement without denying clients the opportunity to choose for themselves.

This may also call for greater use of behavioural training techniques such as achievement motivation and entrepreneurship development training, but these can never be a substitute for the individual contact and support which clearly played a major part in the success of many of the business people described in the case studies.