|Self-Employment for Disabled People - Experiences from Africa and Asia (ILO, 1989, 100 p.)|
|6. Lessons to be learned|
Disabled people lack self-confidence and most of them lack mobility; able-bodied people, particularly those who are in positions of responsibility, often feel an obligation to help the disabled and welcome opportunities to do so which are effective but involve a minimum of trouble and expense.
This means that one of the most effective ways in which an assistance agency can help is by bridging the gap between the disabled person and the large number of institutions that have the necessary resources. It is far better for a rehabilitation institution to use its good offices to help its trainees obtain bank loans than for it to try to become a banker itself, and it makes more sense to persuade the authorities responsible for allocating industrial sheds to give space to disabled business people than for the rehabilitation institution to set up its own industrial estate.
Similar help can be and is being provided with licences, raw materials and many other services, including introductions to customers, but marketing, as is so often the case, appears to be the most neglected area. Much is being done, particularly through contacts and introductions, but more can be done by mobilising the institution's own purchasing power and by persuading governments and other large buyers to purchase from the disabled. If a business has a market, it can usually raise finance, find a location, acquire skills and obtain raw materials and equipment, but without any sales all these things are in vain. Those wanting to help the self-employed must ensure that their clients recognise the fundamental importance of marketing.
They must also adopt a marketing orientation themselves, in relation to their clients, who are the customers of a rehabilitation institution even if they do not pay.
Marketing often means reaching out to customers rather than waiting for them to beat a pathway to your door. A rehabilitation institution must reach out to its customers by following up trainees, visiting them in their places of work and trying to provide relevant and practical assistance whenever possible. Staff with a marketing outlook on their job will not only help their clients to market their goods and services to their customers, but will also market the institution's services more effectively to its clients, to government and to donors. Thus a greater volume of more efficient assistance will be made available to help more disabled people become profitably self-employed, and thus to achieve both economic and personal independence.