Cover Image
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

Discouragement from self-employment

Success in self-employment, as in any other endeavour, is more a function of psychological factors and motivation than it is of physical resources. Everyone can think of numerous examples of people who have enjoyed massive support and every possible advantage and have failed, while there are others who have had to overcome overwhelming disadvantages and have enjoyed no external support but have nevertheless succeeded. We should therefore examine the possible effects of disability on the motivation of the disabled in order to identify those characteristics which may or may not be conducive to self-employment.

In many, if not most, societies, people who are disabled are regarded as just that. Even if their disability relates only to one faculty, such as sight, hearing or use of the arms or legs, there is a tendency for others to believe that they cannot do anything at all, or at least as well as those who are not disadvantaged in the same way.

Most human accomplishments require a subtle combination of faculties. A pianist must read the music, hear what he or she plays, use both hands on the keyboard and both feet on the pedals, and must also be able to sit upright in order to play. People are amazed when a blind person becomes a talented or even a virtuoso pianist, as many have. Sighted people cannot understand how the pianist has developed his or her other faculties in order to overcome the lack of sight since they do not have to do it themselves, and there is a tendency to admire what we cannot understand.

This admiration is a function of our expectation that disabled people will not be able to perform as well as others. It is well known that people who are not trusted tend over time actually to become untrustworthy, and that children whom their teachers expect to perform well do in fact perform well because of the teachers' expectations. In the same way, if a person is expected by those around him, including his family, fellow students and most people with whom he is in daily contact, to be less capable than others, he will in due course actually behave as expected.

The decision to become self-employed is as much as anything else a function of self-confidence, and the same may be said of success in self-employment. If a person's confidence has been continually eroded by the expectations of those around him or her, the effect on actual performance will be more serious than for a potential entrepreneur who has a support network of colleagues and superiors.

Reference has already been made to the ways in which leprosy patients are ostracised in that people are unwilling to have any physical contact with them or even to touch anything they have touched. This is clearly an extreme case - although such behaviour is not based on medical evidence - but disability is often regarded as a curse so that contact with disabled people is avoided at all costs. People who have been disabled since childhood are often hidden away by their families as objects of shame or because they may damage the marriage prospects of other family members; they may therefore come to perceive themselves as a burden to their families and of no value to society.

Ostracism, or even a milder version of deprivation of social contact, is even more disadvantageous to someone who is self-employed than to someone who is employed by others. An employee can work in isolation as a carpenter, a computer programmer or on an assembly line, more or less independently of contact with others, but someone who is self-employed must have regular and sustained contact with suppliers and, most importantly, with customers.

New small enterprises usually operate in highly competitive markets. If there are ten or more vegetable vendors selling similar produce at similar prices, many customers may avoid buying from the one whom they have been conditioned to avoid since childhood. This is particularly likely to be the case when the disabled business person actually comes from the community where he or she is working. We have already seen that the relative immobility of the disabled makes self-employment at home particularly attractive, but doing business in your own community may mean having to sell to people who have hitherto avoided you and tended to deny that you existed. This “social disability” also extends to finance, purchasing, licences, permission to operate and all the other resources which a self-employed person needs and which require personal contact and perseverance.