|Self-Employment for Disabled People - Experiences from Africa and Asia (ILO, 1989, 100 p.)|
|5. What is being done for disabled entrepreneurs?|
Once a person has acquired the necessary skills and has been assisted to obtain whatever equipment and material are needed, it may be possible for him or her to become self-employed and for the enterprise to survive. It might be argued, in fact, that those who have been fortunate enough to receive institutional assistance of this kind have no right to expect any further support; whatever resources are available should be used to give other people the same opportunity.
In fact, however, it is very difficult for most people to move from the shelter and support of an institution to total independence. Employed people can to an extent depend upon their colleagues and the employer for some support, but the self-employed have nobody with whom to share their difficulties; they must be economically and emotionally independent. People like Bob Sabio, the figurine maker, and Lamin Sambou, the tailor, never had the benefit of assistance from an institution and therefore never had the problem of re-entry into the harsh reality of the world outside after a period of relative shelter.
Those who have been institutionalised, however, often need a bridge between the institution and the real world, particularly when it is the lonely world of self-employment. Some form of post-training support is therefore usually desirable. Twenty of the 32 institutions provided some follow-up of this kind, usually by regular visits from an adviser or counsellor. Such visits may be necessary to carry out medical checks, to collect loan repayments, to pay out pensions or other subventions or for some other administrative purposes, but they often have the far more important effect of maintaining a friendly link and providing a sympathetic ear.
It is also important for the staff of any institution to maintain contact with its ex-trainees. We saw earlier that around one-third of the institutions covered in our survey were unable to state how many or what proportion of their trainees finally became self-employed; it is obviously difficult to keep in touch with every trainee who leaves an institution and it would have been quite impossible for any institution to keep in touch with Luwo Jambo in his many travels from his birthplace in Mozambique, or with Lamin Sambou in his moves from Senegal to the Gambia and back.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to evaluate and adapt rehabilitation and training programmes without regular and frequent contact with people who have been trained and the world in which they have to make their way. Follow-up visits to ex-trainees serve the dual purpose of bridging the gap for both groups of people, the trainees and the trainers.
It is also important not to continue support indefinitely, both to avoid perpetuating dependence and to ensure that resources are not unfairly wasted on a small number of people. Twenty-four of the institutions in our survey claimed that they had a definite policy of terminating post-training support after a certain period which might vary according to the nature and the problems of the client. It may be significant that none of the entrepreneurs described in the case studies mentioned post-training support of this kind, except for Momodou Njie, who relied on the adviser from the IBAS to help him with his accounts. It may be that regular contact is necessary not so much for particular services or advice but just for the caring and contact which allow the new entrepreneur gradually to become accustomed to the solitary world of self-employment.