|Sustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities: The Process of Self-Empowerment (ADF, 1995, 117 p.)|
|Section II: Building economic self-reliance|
Building Economic Self-Reliance
The burden of the argument so far has been against the welfarist/medical/charity model of rehabilitation, and in favour of empowering the disabled people to take control of their own destinies. Let us summarise the argument against this model:
1. The model reduces the disabled person into a mere receptacle of welfare or medical aid, not an actor in his or her own behalf. It encourages a patronising attitude towards PWDs, and this robs the latter of self-esteem and dignity.
2. It kills the initiative and creativity of the PWDs.
3. It creates a Donor Dependency Syndrome (DDS) among the PWDs.
4. The welfare model has created a sizable industry of "Professionals" and fund-raisers for whom it eventually becomes a "business" in whose continuation they acquire a vested interest.
5. The medical version of rehabilitation is one of the worst expressions of this model, because it isolates the clinical aspect from all other aspects of the life of the disabled people. It treats people with disabilities as "patients" and case numbers.
All this is not to say that there is no room for welfare, or even for medical care. There is. But all in their own place, and in their own concrete situation and circumstances. All generalised approaches to the disabled persons (and this applies as much to CBR as to the medical model) must be avoided, in favour of a pluralist approach based on the principle, first and foremost, of empowering the disabled persons to control their own circumstances of existence.
One of the cardinal components of empowerment is to be able to make a living for oneself. Not to have to depend on others for a living. Once you reduce yourself to the role of a mere "consumer" you have become a negative force to yourself and to others.
The adjoining passage takes poetic liberty to wax lyrical about the virtues of productive work. There is nothing wrong in a bit of lyric even in a "Guide" book! After all, a "guide" is not all about the body. It is also about the spirit. With the right spirit, some disabled people have moved mountains.
To be engaged in production, any kind of production (whether for a
living or for art), has a more enduring therapeutic value than all the clinical
treatment you can get from professionals. So, get down to production. The
wheel-chair is no bondage to the mind. Your blind eyes can probe deeper into the
recesses of the mind than those of the sighted, and think of something that only
you can do and be proud of. Show the world that your deafness is a protective
shield against the polluting sounds of the so-called "civilization," and play
music with your heart so only you can hear.
Let us, however, get down to the hard reality. And the reality is that, increasingly, under the circumstances in which our countries find themselves (especially in Africa under the regime of the Structural Adjustment Programmes), there are fewer and fewer jobs available. The employment market has shrunk dramatically. African formal economics are contracting. The so-called "informal" (better called "non-formal") sector now provides "employment" to anything from 50 percent to 75 percent of Africa's increasing population. That is the reality, and it does not look as if things are likely to improve for the better in the foreseeable future. Under these circumstances, what options do the PWDs have? Broadly speaking, they have three options.
In a contracting wage market, the only real option open to most people (and not just the PWDs) is self-employment (the third option in the above chart). But let us first talk about the other two.
Why the subsidy? is the first question that comes to the fore. The answer is that it is part of "affirmative action" which we talked about in Chapter 3. It is a component of policy that tries to equalise conditions which otherwise would be discriminatory against certain groups of people, in this case PWDs.
There are two kinds of subsidized or sheltered employment:
1. The first kind is one where a group of PWDs (usually with the same disability) are enabled to set up a business or a manufacturing or service enterprise, and their costs are partly met out of a grant. The grant could come from either the government or from a non-government organisation (NGO) or a donor.
2. The other kind of subsidy takes the form of the state "topping up" the wages (or salaries) of PWDs who are employed by mainstream enterprises. The usual argument is to compensate the employer for the presumed reduced productivity of a person with disability in comparison to his/her colleagues.
Workshop participants discussing the technique of sewing canvas products. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
Of course, the subsidy could become counterproductive if it becomes a disincentive to work. Also, there are, of course, practical difficulties about the amount of subsidy and its duration.
Furthermore, one might ask if the subsidy is not tantamount to charity, or welfare, against which we had earlier argued. Not necessarily. There may be cases where such ventures are set up purely as extensions of welfare programmes. But even here, insofar as people are actually engaged in some productive activity that adds value to the economy, as well as value to the people's sense of self-esteem, it changes its character from being "passively welfarist" to being "productively welfarist." It is not the best option, but under certain circumstances, and provided it is not done with a patronising and dehumanising spirit, it is a legitimate way of creating employment for the PWDs.
Also, let it be understood that there is no economy in the world that does not use some or other forms of subsidy to support certain groups of people (the best known examples being the farmers in France and the United States).
Various Models of CBR
Waged or Salaried Employment
Self-employment Without Subsidy
In isolated ventures
In the mainstream
As cooperatives or groups
A member of the Young Deaf Handcrafted furniture makers sculpting a tabletop. (Photo by Christine Fowles)
Whatever the merits of subsized employment, its real limitation is that this method of generating employment cannot go very far. It cannot create mass employment. There are financial limits to what the government or NGOs can do.
Wage or salaried employment
This is an option which seeks neither a subsidy nor special treatment. The disabled person offers himself or herself for a job, or a profession, entirely on merit. What he/she is up against, however, is the attitude of society that discounts the merit on account of the disability without even putting to test his or her competence.
At the Entebbe Workshop, the participants made a "role play" to test out what barriers and obstacles existed in the employment of persons with disabilities. It came out that, generally, employers and placement officers felt uncomfortable even whilst interviewing people with disabilities. Often the disability became more of an issue than the applicant's qualifications. And some of the worst stereotype attitudes surfaced during the interviews.
However, it was also found that once a placement officer is educated about disability, and his/her prejudices removed, s(he) could even get enthusiastic about offering a job to somebody with disability. The challenge, therefore, is how to educate those in responsible positions to hire PWDs. Like everything else, this requires massive investment in information gathering, dissemination, awareness raising workshops, and radio and television programmes.
We come now to the third option, one that is no less challenging, but that is about the only one left in a world where paid employment is fast shrinking.
Self-employment in Income Generating Projects (IGPs)
These are economic activities of PWDs either in groups and cooperatives or as individuals. The distinction between a "group" and a "cooperative" is only in its formation and status. A cooperative is normally registered, has a constitution that regulates its function, and is usually supervised, or monitored, by some organ of the state. A "group" Is a more informal structure. Cooperatives can exist in both capitalist and socialist-oriented economies.
Before we go any further, there is one issue we must clear. We are here definitely talking about genuine self-reliant efforts, not those that are for ever and ever dependent on donor funding.
Whilst vast numbers of informal activities (usually by the poor, marginalised sections of society) tend to find their own means of raising money for their "enterprises," there is a tendency, generally, for those who describe themselves as involved in "Income Generating Projects" to go on soliciting funds from some donor or another. How, one might ask, are they then different from "subsidized enterprises"? To be sure, they are then no different. They must then fall in the first option analyzed earlier.
To a point, however, if such IGPs solicit only "initial" funds, or start-up capital, since this is one of the most serious constraints on IGPs, then an approach to a donor is justified. The more so, if the money is taken as a loan rather than as a grant. In the long run, however, they have to become fully self-reliant to earn the title of a legitimate mainstream business.
The Entebbe Workshop spent a lot of time on issues related to these kinds of activities - i.e. how PWDs might become economically self-supporting. For this reason we shall devote the next four chapters looking in some detail into some of the problem areas, and the practical ways in which these issues might be addressed. The rest of this chapter will look at some preliminary issues relating to IGPs.
Disabled people sometimes feel that they are discriminated against by the donor community. A participant at the Entebbe Workshop asked this question:
Why is it always emphasised that the development of
PWDs should be undertaken in groups, yet the able-bodied develop as
Implied here is indeed a subtle form of discrimination against the disabled. They are assumed not to be capable of handling matters "on their own." They must either have somebody to hold their hands (the charity model), or they must hold each others' hands (the group model). Of course, there is nothing wrong in working in groups. On the contrary, group work has certain definite advantages. The workshop itself identified some of these:
· Groups are important particularly for certain kinds of projects which would otherwise be difficult to be undertaken by individuals, such as fence-making.
· Furthermore, group projects enable people with different disabilities to complement one another's strong points and to compensate for their drawbacks.
· Group work promotes social integration and recognition in the community. Thus, they are most suitable for CBR projects.
· Team work allows for the emergence of new ideas.
· It enables people to acquire leadership qualities, people who need to be constantly accountable to their peer group.
· Group efforts are generally more sustainable, and, if well run, have a higher level of continuity and possibilities of expansion.
· Finally, but not least, group work embodies the spirit of solidarity. A united force can lobby better for changes in the policies and practices of the government, the community, the NGOs, and other stakeholders.
All these advantages of group work are well known and appreciated. What the Entebbe participants were op posed to was the idea that PWDs can only work in groups. They were challenging the general tendency on the part of donors to insist on PWDs to form themselves into groups before they could be supported. One of the donor representatives at the workshop explained it thus:
Donors generally prefer to fund groups because limited resources would this way benefit more people. Furthermore, group projects cater a wider community, and a wide range of skills and abilities are tapped and utilised. Issues like equity, capacity building and management are taken care of In funding an individual, there is no assurance that capacity building would be achieved. There are, of course, some advantages of individual projects, such as, quick decision making and individual recognition. But the disadvantages are that these individual projects tend to have limited life span, and could be exploitative of the workers.
The workshop participants themselves identified the following as specific advantages of individual projects:
The Advantages of Individual Projects
· They are directly related to the needs of the individual.
· They are less risky.
· There is high level of commitment and motivation in individual projects.
· There are less legal implications and difficulties.
And they relayed the following negative experiences many of them had in working through group projects:
Disadvantages of Group Projects
· Divergent needs by different members; some needs are left out when people have to work in groups.
· More risks due to divergence among members.
· Some members lack commitment. Selfishness of some members who want to get more from the project compared to what they put in it. Group projects are burdened by more "observers" and fewer participators. This can result in meagre output because actual contribution is only from a few people.
· Lack of legal contract among group members can create problems.
· Newly formed groups do not understand what it means to work as a group and to take collective decisions.
· Some groups start projects which are not related to their physical and mental abilities. As a result, they are frustrated during implementation and finally the project is abandoned.
· Financial mismanagement and accountability is a constant headache.
· Lack of unity among participants.
· Poor division of labour whereby some leaders tend to personalize projects.
Of course, the debate is inconclusive. This is one of those issues where it is unwise to be rigid. Much depends on the concrete circumstances of each situation. Remember our analogy of the street map - only the inhabitants know the terrain, the byways and highways. From the outside we need to keep an open mind about various possibilities.
The workshop itself recommended that individual as well as group projects should both be promoted. The donor representative who earlier gave the reasons why her organization generally favoured the group approach went on to add, however, that in recent times it was now moving in the direction of supporting qualified individual micro-projects, not directly, but through intermediary (NGOs) The ILO representative at the workshop added that recently there has been a tendency in his organization also to advocate funding individuals rather than groups because of the problems experienced in group funding.
There we are. It is an open field. For certain purposes and in certain situations, there is no question that the group approach is ideal. But there is no reason why highly motivated individuals should not be encouraged to plough their own furrows. The objectives of the next four chapters is to look at general issues that concern both groups and individuals when they get into income generating projects.
However, before we end this chapter, there is an important issue that must be addressed. This is the question of gender and class in relation to strategies aimed at enabling the PWDs to be self-reliant.
One disabled woman participant at the Entebbe Workshop suggested that often a distinction is made between an Income Generating Project (IGP) and Income Generating Activities (IGA). The latter are normally for the women. They are "low level" activities, and normally confined to the traditional bread-making, sewing and crocheting type of work. When an activity becomes "serious" and involves "high technology" or "up market" commodity production, they tend to gravitate towards men.
This is an important distinction. Whatever the linguistic merits of the distinction, the point is that women do get discriminated against in terms of securing the resources for projects or activities that are on the "up market" or involving "high technology." Women, generally, are discriminated against in our societies; the disabled women (especially, the poor amongst them) even more so.
Besides gender, there is an important class dimension to disability.
Nelson Isiko: "There are three classes of disabled
people - the rich, the poor, and the middle class. The first two are not present
in this workshop; the first because they do not care for the disabled, and do
not even regard themselves as disabled, the second because they are too much on
the margins of society. We here are mostly from the middle class." (Closing
speech at the Entebbe Workshop)
Isiko's observation is reflected also in a study carried out in Zimbabwe by the ILO. An ILO publication entitled, "Listen to the People," has this to say:
Two findings... may be worth reporting as
symptomatic. Wherever disabled people are engaged in meaningful or gainful
activities they are respected members of the community and the disability loses
its stigma. Second, the affiliation of disabled people to a certain social group
or class is more important in the assessment of the disability than the
disability itself. The rich and well educated are believed to succeed in life
irrespective of their disability. When disability is combined with poverty and
lack of education, the prognosis for success is bleak.
So the conclusion of this discussion is that whenever planning for IGPs, the PWDs must be self-conscious about the circumstances of class and gender, and related social prejudices, myths and biases which hamper communication not only between the disabled people and the able bodied, but also amongst the PWDs themselves.
A. For Persons with Disability
· As far as possible, aim at self-reliance. Self-sufficiency is an unachievable goal, because nobody on this earth is self-sufficient, we all need support and resources from outside. However, self-reliance, the ability to look after our own affairs, is both achievable and necessary for self-esteem.
· Decide which particular option is best suited for their circumstances self-employment, wage or salary employment, or within some kind of subsidized income generating activity, either in the mainstream economy or in an isolated operation with other fellow PWDs.
· If the circumstances, including their specific disability, are too exacting, difficult, then some kind of institutionalised subsidy may well have to become part of life. Otherwise, it is best to get out of subsidized existence as soon as is possible.
· Insist on being part of the mainstream, and not be isolated from the rest of society.
· Bear in mind that when engaged in group IGP, the first skill to learn is not the technical skill, but the human skills - how to relate to people, how to reconcile differences, how to observe group ethics. These make or break groups.
· Try not to be exploitative of other people when engaged in an IGP of their own as individuals. For then, how different are they from those they criticise for exploiting them?
· Always be conscious of gender and class differences amongst themselves as PWDs. When engaged in IGPs they must observe fair practice in relation to those sections of the society who tend to be abused or marginalised.
B. For the Government
The government should:
· Develop and implement policies which enable PWDs and their families to attain a decent quality of life.
· Not treat PWDs as one homogeneous group of people, and "lump" them together in a uniform programme of action. There are differences amongst them, and these differences have to be respected. There are those amongst them who might need institutionalised back-up support for many years. But the vast numbers are likely to be those who could look after themselves with some initial support in the form of training, tools, capital, and extension service.
· Work out with other stakeholders (for example, commercial banks for start-up capital) ways and means of providing subsidy, where this is necessary. It could, for example, take the form of subsidizing the salary of a skilled PWD employed by a private company.
· Encourage cooperatives of PWDs, where practical, so that PWDs can pool their resources and skills to earn collective living. These must then be supported with outreach programmes just like any other cooperative.
· Ensure and monitor the application of fair standards in relation to PWDs engaged in business. There are those among the PWDs who are quite competent to start a business or a profession as individuals. Often, however, they face discriminatory practices by trade associations, banks, marketing agencies, insurance companies, and even civil servants. These must be exposed and dealt with by law.
· Apply the "participatory' principle in all income generating projects of PWDs. They must facilitate the PWDs to do their own things.
C. For NGOs, INGOs and NGOs working with PWDs
· Much of what is said about the role and responsibility of governments also applies to NGOs, especially the need to respect differences amongst PWDs and to be sensitive to the specific demands of each category.
· Some IGOs and NGOs are moving out of their inclination to support only group initiatives among the PWDs. But many still are locked into past practices. PWDs need to be supported as groups, for sure. But PWDs are also individuals. Those amongst them who have the competence to start on their own as individuals must be supported.
· As with government, IGOs and NGOs must apply the "participatory" principle when working with the PWDs.
· They should consider funding programmes for parents of disabled children and caters of severely disabled persons.
Some Areas for Further Discussion
What is the difference between "self-sufficiency' and "self-reliance"? What does it take to be self-reliant?
What group ethics are necessary for a group income generating project to succeed?
Should donors support an individual PWD who exploits the labour or
skills of other PWDs for his/her profit on the grounds that it at least creates
employment for the
All development projects normally pass through a certain sequence.
Of course monitoring and evaluation may yield information that then may have to be fed back into the system in order to carry out the necessary modifications. Often, however, the process is interrupted, or aborted, or a certain stage in the project cycle may, for various reasons, be overlooked. Thus very often, after a project has been implemented, the project holders fail either to set up a monitoring mechanism to keep track on the progress of the project, or they fail to carry out an evaluation. We shall come back to these later. Here, we discuss the first stage in the journey of the project.
Whether it is a group or an individual project, the importance of careful planning before actually embarking on the project cannot be overemphasised. Most mistakes are made well before the first purchase is made for a project. And since experience, particularly from a project that has failed, is a better guide to drawing out lessons and guidelines, we shall start with one such project.
Sequences of Development Projects
The women's wing of a PWD organisation decided that it was not fair that women were always limited to undertaking the "conventional" handicraft and poultry kinds of projects. They decided to try something more adventurous. Thus in 1992, they set up a clothing manufacturing company to cater for a fashionable women's market in the region.
A location was selected primarily because of the country's easy foreign exchange regulations at the time. Apart from this justification, no other organisational or management considerations were taken into account. The need for research and feasibility studies only became apparent after the business was facing problems. A feasibility study to determine viability of the project was carried out, but it was almost eight months after the company had already started business. By that time the study had become irrelevant.
Furthermore, no proper market study was undertaken. It was simply assumed that since there was nobody in the country who was manufacturing African designs for women, there would be a ready market for these. In the event the local market proved too small, and the company had no marketing expertise to reach out to the rest of the region, nor indeed a knowledge of how to go about hiring professional marketing skills.
The manager had not received any formal or informal training in business management. Earlier, she had successfully run the organisation's women's programme, and it was assumed that she would learn "on the job." At the inception of the company, there was no budget from which the management could operate. The mother body simply allocated funds and made payments according to 11 requisitions" from the company. Since a financial chart was non-existent, the resultant ad hoc financial administration became chaotic, affecting cash flow, borrowing, and further investments. By 1994, the company was in a serious debt situation, and had to close down.
Lessons to learn from the above experience
1. The desire to get out of stereotypical women's income generating activities was well-founded, but mere enthusiasm was no substitute for careful planning.
2. The feasibility and market studies should have been undertaken well before deciding on the location and scale of the enterprise, as well as on the type, quality, quantity and design of the product to be manufactured.
3. The management should have been professionally appointed. Preferably, a disabled person with management skills should have been found. Alternatively, the manager appointed should have been sent for training. Failing in both these options, it would have been better to hire a professional manager from the open market, until a disabled person could be trained for the job.
4. A proper budget and finance plan should have been drawn up. A certain amount of donor funding was perhaps justified in the initial stages on the grounds of "affirmative action," but eventually the enterprise could justify its existence only on the basis of its performance in the face of competition in the open market.
5. Proper stock control, quality and output control, cash flow control, proper book-keeping, constant market evaluation, periodic changes in the design of the clothing in response to market demand, expanding onto the regional market all these were necessary prerequisites for the venture to succeed. The company was deficient in all these.
A Collective Bakery Project
One Story of Failure An organization wanted to help start small businesses for people with disabilities. They chose an area where there were many disabled people.
The previous page shows another hypothetical story of an unsuccessful business enterprise set up by a donor organization. It is taken from the series of eight publications brought out by the ILO called: "How to Start a Small Business."
These are the lessons the ILO study drew out of this story:
· We must be sure that the people we are assisting really want to start small business.
· We must be sure that they are prepared to work hard and to cooperate with others.
· It is very important that persons with disabilities should themselves choose who to work with and what to do. Some persons might prefer to start a business alone, others might prefer to work in a group.
· We should only assist, not set up a business for them.
· If possible, the persons who want to start a business should contribute money from their own savings, or some of the material. It is also advisable to give a loan rather than a donation. This will give them a special reason to make their business succeed. They will feel that success or failure depends on their own efforts.
· It is also important that everyone gets some basic knowledge in management.
· We must visit regularly to give advice.
Although, as is clear from the above, the lessons are meant for the donors, with a slight amendment of the language they could well be lessons for the PWDs themselves.
· In any project, the human relationships are often more important than the technical and managerial issues, such as, for example, those dealing with:
· the question of power, or
· the process of decision-making.
· One question that always comes up is the involvement of women in decision-making and sharing out of the profits. Often a project is begun by women (e.g. a water project for domestic use) and ends up being in control of men (who might want to use the water to irrigate their farm).
· At the community level, people tend to elect "prominent" leaders to the management (executive) committees - people who are rich or "politically influential," those who speak English, and those who "know." This is a process by which people dis-empower themselves.
· The disabled people (and this applies generally to all marginalised people) often disempower themselves through lack of self-confidence. Sometimes development "experts" undermine their self-confidence. People allow themselves to be spoon-fed, and let outsiders decide things for them.
· Often projects initiated by PWDs end up being controlled by service organisations or professionals, especially where complicated technical inputs and production processes are involved. People cease to regard such projects as "theirs," and refer to them as "donors' projects." They contribute labour to the project, and may even benefit from them, but they are not in control of them.
· Often human rights issues are separated from issues of development. "Business is business," people say, "you cannot mix politics with it." They forget, however, that development itself is a human right. PWDs based in rural areas should involve human rights activists to fight for the repossession of their lands, and to secure their title deeds, and they should also get help on issues of land development, housing, schooling, clinics, etc.
· Often the elite among the PWDs dominate the projects and overwhelm the more disadvantaged among them.
The Entebbe Workshop set up a working group on "Project Planning." Its task was to summarise and draw lessons from the groups that had presented their experiences and the subsequent discussion. It made the following recommendations on project planning:
The workshop recognised that the success of integrated sustainable projects depends on the time, effort and expertise put in the initial planning process of the project. Thorough mobilisation of both local and outside resources, analysis, implementation and streamlined evaluation process were identified as essential components of project planning. It was further proposed that:
· Planning should be integrated, participatory and should involve the beneficiaries and funding partners in collaboration with the community.
· The beneficiaries who are the ultimate owners of the project should be facilitated to understand and articulate implementation effectively.
· Professionals who work with the beneficiaries should ensure that the planned objectives are achievable. In most cases, local expertise should be utilised to build the organisational capacity. The original ideas about the project should come from the beneficiaries.
· The plans should have projected implementation guidelines that are time scheduled with tasks to be determined by the various abilities of PWDs.
· Plans should reflect the achievable goals and the project that will be realised. What the project will realise in terms of revenue; how, whom, and when members will share the benefits; what percentage will be ploughed back into the project. The plan should incorporate an ownership system that recognizes equal opportunities for its members.
· It was resolved and recommended that partners must be transparent and accountable to their members and funders as well as involving members during the identification, designing, planning, implementation and evaluation of their projects. Decision making in groups and PWD organisations should be democratized.
· Special interests were also emphasised. This included women with disabilities (WWDs) and children. If PWDs were deprived of opportunities, WWDs were more deprived and disadvantaged. The need to conduct sensitivity programmes for different members of the society was recommended.
This would enable WWDs and children with disabilities to fully integrate into the mainstream.
The need to involve men in sensitisation programmes was emphasised. Affirmative action and supportive laws were also recommended. Furthermore, the United Nations System (including the ILO) should give more consideration to supporting disabled women's initiatives in their programmes.
· It was finally recommended that organisations of disabled persons should encourage the participation of disabled women by ensuring that there is at least 50 percent representation of disabled women in decision making, designing, planning, implementation and evaluation Of programmes of disabled persons.
An owner or manager of an enterprise does not need to know
everything about an enterprise economic, financial, technical, etc. etc. But
(s)he does need to know enough about ALL aspects in order to understand the
reports or analysis done by "experts". (S)he should also know where to hire such
"expertise" and how to evaluate the competence of various kinds of experts that
are available (for there are all kinds) in such a way that they are just right
This depends on the kind of project one is embarking upon. Naturally, a large enterprise like the clothing factory discussed above requires a very different level of planning than a small one like a bakery. One cannot generalise.
Secondly, it is important not to present "planning" as some special activity that only "experts" can do. If it were presented in this light then PWDs (like other marginalised people) would forever be disempowered. They would never feel confident enough to embark on a project without having experts rule their lives. For sure, there are aspects of planning that require a certain amount of professional "expertise," especially for large projects.
The carrying out of a proper feasibility or market study is an example. Another is a technical evaluation of equipment before actually purchasing it. However, the important thing is not to be intimidated by the "experts."
Planning is not something that experts do. The experts may have knowledge about certain aspects of the enterprise (such as the technical, the financial or the marketing aspect), but they do not know all. For example, they would not know the human dimension of the enterprise. And this, when you are dealing with a group of disabled people or a situation that demands a certain degree of human sensitiveness, is an extremely important dimension. "Experts," especially those who deal with the financial and technical matters (as against those who deal with "labour" issues), are often insensitive to the human aspect. PLANNING IS NOT A SCIENCE. It has to deal with the human aspect just as much as with the technical.
So "experts" should not plan alone. It is only the owner/manager of the enterprise who has finally to put all things together after the "experts" have carried out their analysis and presented their reports. At the end of the day, if things go wrong, you as owner or manager are responsible, not the "experts."
Planning is all about research and information. Planning is not implementation; that comes later. Thus, for example:
· Planning is not about acquiring land for farming. It is about information on how to secure land, how title deeds are made, how much land is needed and for what purpose.
· It is not yet about acquiring machinery. It is about information on what kind of machines are needed, where to secure them, what are prices, are they available locally or must they be imported, and if the latter, what is the import duty that might have to be paid, and so on?
· It is not yet about hiring people. It is information about what kinds of people need to be hired, how many skilled and how many unskilled, what kind of skills and at what levels, what their job descriptions are likely to look like, how much wages/salaries need to be paid to them, would they work in one shift, two, or in multi-shifts, etc.?
· It is not yet about raising money. It is information about what kinds of money are needed (loan capital or equity?), what are the likely sources of funds, at what rates of interest and periods of repayment, etc.?
Planning is about information and research. It is knowing where to
get information, how to understand and analyse that information. It is about
putting all the necessary information together so that various possible options
are examined and assessed. It is about deciding what options are the most
economical and desirable.
As earlier indicated, the planning that is needed will depend on the type of enterprise embarked upon. And so there is no general rule that applies to all cases. PLANNING IS A CONCRETE EXERCISE. Nonetheless, there are aspects that can be identified, as a kind of "check list" that owners and managers of enterprises need to go through in order to enable them to plan efficiently. These can be classified into three broad categories.
There is a fourth dimension, the regional or global one. This is for those who really want to venture into the regional or the global market. And, if they have the Will and the competence, why shouldn't they?
Types of Enterprise
General information about the state of the local and national
General information about the particular product or
Specific information about the enterprise
Here, however, we shall limit ourselves to more modest efforts that confine themselves to the national markets. One must add, nonetheless, that in a globalised economy, national markets are also deeply affected by what happens globally. For example, if you decide to go into crop production (coffee, tobacco, etc.), your pricing and production policies may well be affected by what happens globally with respect to these crops. And so a certain amount of global (and regional) knowledge may be essential.
The Entebbe Workshop dealt with the question of the type of information that is needed for project planning. It came up with the following:
Types of information needed:
· Technical information leading to skill building
· Availability of resources e.g land, labour, capital and equipment
· Legal information
· Statistical data
· Demographic data used in planning for the provision of social services
· Marketing information
· Information about other organizations doing similar projects
· Market demand
· Socio-cultural information
· Information from local people
· Information on members concerned, and suitability of type of disability among the implementors
· Information about the activities of the group and about budgeting
This is a summary list of information that the participants identified as important or relevant for planning purposes. It shows the diverse nature of the information that is required. They were also asked to identify the sources from which information might be obtained, and they came up with the following:
Sources of information
· Business records, market survey
· Research institutions
· Community, (NGOs) and government departments
· Development Officers
· From organizations dealing with PWDs
· Persons caring for disabled people
Once again, the diversity of the sources of information is underlined. What is remarkable is that a lot of information is "public," in other words, it is there in the libraries, government departments, publications and in various archives. It is there for free. And yet, equally remarkably, few people bother to find these sources. They would prefer, rather, to employ a "consultant" who does the research and charges exorbitant fees. Whilst this may be necessary in some cases, it is not necessary for most projects. PWDs with more modest projects can carry out their own research.
We use it to do the three things necessary for planning that we identified at the beginning of the chapter, namely:
a) Project Identification
b) Project Feasibility
c) Project Designing and Formulation
For project identification we need a market survey. However, let us not get too scared by the phrase "market survey." For modest projects that do not need a great amount of capital outlay, we can carry out this study ourselves. For example, if there are too many bakeries around, or if the local village bakery is daily supplied with bread from a large town nearby, then clearly it is risky to get into it. For bigger projects, a proper market survey would be necessary.
Bamba Ndiaye, ILO Zimbabwe and Godfrey Dembe of the Karusandara project in Uganda role-playing a donor/applicant planning session. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
Next is: project feasibility. It is another big scare word, but it simply means: is the objective of the project we have identified "achievable" or not? Is it practical? Is it viable? Shall we risk going into it? Can we sustain it, and not get bankrupt? We obviously need to have all this information before venturing into it. For a proper feasibility, we need not only a market report, but also, additionally, a whole lot of other information, such as:
· First and foremost, the suitability of the project to the PWDs
· The availability of land, and its cost
· The availability of capital, and its cost
· Kinds of skills needed, their cost and availability
· Need for unskilled labour, labour regulations and the availability of labour
· The kinds of machinery needed, their cost and availability of maintenance and service
· Transport requirements
· Buildings (office, factory, storage, etc.) requirements, and accessibility of PWDs to them
· Water, electricity and telecommunications
· And so on, and so on.
Clearly, we cannot make a comprehensive list here. Planning, we need to repeat, is a concrete exercise, not theoretical, not abstract, not speculative. Each project must be treated in its own terms. If it is a big project, an "expert" might be hired to carry out a cost-benefit analysis. Another big word. It only means, (s)he will carry out an exercise that will show if the benefits (financial and social) that flow from the project are worth the proposed capital and recurrent expenditure. (S)he may additionally carry out a financial cashflow analysis to try to show how the income and expenditure on a monthly basis will effect the cash situation of the enterprise, since sometimes an acute shortage of cash at some critical period could put the enterprise in a "cash flow crisis," thus risking its survival.
Finally, we come to project design and formulation. Once the market study is done, and the feasibility is assured, we must now write up the project design.
The market and feasibility studies sometimes come up with several options, several possibilities. For example, a market study could say: "You could make exclusively women's dresses, but if you add on house soft furnishings as well, such as curtains and bedsheets, your prospects for success will improve." And a feasibility study could say: "With more machinery, you Will cut down on your unit cost and be competitive; on the other hand, the initial outlay on capital would be high, so you could, initially, go for more labour-intensive methods."
So, we as the project holders must make our choices. The experts are there only to advise. They don't take risks. We have to do that. And, therefore, after studying the various bits of information (including, where necessary, market and feasibility studies), we have to make choices and design the best option that is within our means and capability.
We must now draw some practical guidelines.
A. For Persons with Disability
· Planning, we must repeat, is a necessary first step to any project. This cannot be overemphasised.
· It is not such a difficult exercise as it appears. Sometimes, scared with the prospect of planning, some people rush into a project hoping to solve problems as they appear. That is very dangerous. We must never rush into projects - even if we are tempted with donor funding.
· PWDs may consult "experts" if necessary. But they must not let experts run their lives, make decisions for them.
· PWDs must first carry out a proper "market study' of the product or service they want to make or market. Make a list of all the necessary information they would need, and then systematically carry out research to find answers to those questions. Again, they may use an "expert" if really necessary.
· A lot of information is "public". It is easily accessible, especially in big towns and cities. In villages, information can be obtained by asking questions around to the likely users of the product or service the PWDs hope to market.
· If they are satisfied there is a market, the next step is to carry out a feasibility, practicality study of the project. Again, they must make a list of all the items that should go into production and/or sale of the product or service and do research on them. They may seek outside help if necessary.
· They must decide on their options. Is it going to be a large project or small one? Is it going to be labour-intensive or capital-intensive? What are the costs involved, and what kind of finances would be needed? etc. etc.
· If a work place or a building is necessary, is it disability-friendly, both geographically and architecturally?
· Finally, how are the PWDs going to benefit in terms of service, employment and dividends?
B. For IGOs and NGOs working with PWDs
· Donors are sometimes responsible for forcing decisions. They need to spend the money before the financial year is out. That is highly irresponsible.
· They must insist on a market and a feasibility study before giving out money. If necessary, they must finance such studies before the project is launched.
· Planning, however, must be participatory. The donors, or the experts they hire, must not make decisions for the PWDs.
· It is better to give loans for the projects rather than outright grants.
· Similarly, it is better to provide facilities for training the project holders rather than "technical assistance."
· Don't abandon the projects once they are financed; keep monitoring their progress.
Some Areas for Further Discussion
Why is planning a "concrete" exercise? Why not make planning rules that apply to all situations?
Planning for an individual project would obviously be different from planning for a co-operative. In what ways?
In what kinds of situations would there be a need to seek the help
of "professionals" or
Once a project is carefully planned, it is time to put it on the ground. It is time to mobilise the resources necessary to implement, and above all, to sustain the project.
Sustainability was defined by the participants at the Entebbe Disability Workshop as:
The successful and/or profitable continuation of
activities/projects without depending on external funding.
It was noted that in order to achieve sustainability of the projects, the following should be considered.
· Strengthening managerial capacities through specific training;
Three particular barriers to sustainability of
projects run by PWDs were highlighted at the Entebbe Workshop:
· Poor management of resources;
· Lack of proper management systems/structures;
· Dependence syndrome, which is the tendency to depend too much on external resources.
· Identification of PWDs' limitations and finding appropriate means to overcome them;
· Mobilising adequate funds and locally available resources;
· Saving from existing incomes: the PWDs, their families and the community must be educated on saving skills in order to sustain and expand on their projects [e.g. Karusandara Mixed Farming in Uganda where 20% of the profits were put into a saving scheme];
· Sensitizing the project beneficiaries about project ownership and contribution to project to avoid donor dependence syndrome; and
· Sensitizing the beneficiaries about transparency, especially when it comes to financial management.
Too often "resources" are identified with simply "money". At best, the definition is broadened to include land, machinery and inputs (e.g. raw materials) that go into production. But this is an inadequate definition of resources. At a broader level still, resources must surely include natural resources, such as water and land, and human resources, including experience, wisdom, skills, and the spirit of the people. "Resources," properly defined, thus fall into three broad categories, each with sub-categories.
Money is not a resource
Notice that "money' is not featured above. Why? Because money itself is not a resource. It is something with which resources can be purchased, and that's why we are all after it, but money itself is not a resource.
It is a medium of exchange (for example, you use money to buy things in the supermarket). It is a store of value (you can hold your savings in a post office savings account, for example).
And it is a standard by which values of different products can be compared, or of the same product over a period of time (you can compare the price of, for example, meat and milk using money, or of the rising price of meat over time).
But money itself is not a "resource." It cannot produce anything. Things are produced by a combination of "real" resources - such as land, human labour, machinery, skills, etc. Money can buy many of these. But, we must remember that not all resources are on sale in the market place - wisdom of ancestors, for example, or the spirit of the people.
First resource to mobilise is the Spirit of the People
Therefore, projects that start by looking for money first are bound to get into difficulties sooner or later. The first resource to mobilise is the spirit of the people who will be involved in production, and the other human resources that cannot necessarily be purchased in the market place. History is full of examples of refugee families with not a stitch on them becoming wealthy during the course of a generation. They start with will, determination, self-sacrifice, the family spirit, care and responsibility towards one another, and unity. They save from meagre incomes and build their material resources as they go along.
The examples given below of projects run by PWDs also demonstrate that the first resource is the spirit of the people. Without it, nothing moves.
Types of Resources
Second to mobilise is Competent Management
The second resource to mobilise, even before you come to money, is proper management. Without it, the best of projects will grind to a halt. The ILO manual on "How to Start a Small Business" has identified the following qualities for competent management, whether it is for a group or an individually owned project.1 It is important to bear in mind that people who succeed in business are usually:
Hardworking and determined to succeed. They can work for 8 to 14 hours per day without much rest. They don't give up easily even if they experience lots of problems after starting the business.
Self-confident and independent. They believe in themselves and in their ability to succeed, even if people around them are pessimistic.
Optimistic and realistic. They tend to look at the positive side of life rather than negative side. But they know that one's success or failure does not depend on fortune or luck. They know what they can do but also what they can't do.
Willing to take risks. They are willing to start a business even though they do not know if it will succeed. They are willing to try new things but they are not careless; they do the necessary research and planning before starting a business.
Trustworthy, responsible and able to listen to others. Their business partners and co-workers are able to trust them. They admit to their mistakes and listen to other people and take their advice.
Able to plan and solve problems. They are able to see ahead and plan for the future. They solve problems when they arise and if they fail, learn lessons from their mistakes and try to improve.
Leaders. They get along well with people. They are open and able to influence others. People take them seriously and like to listen to and take advice from them.
People who have these requirements are often said to have an entrepreneurial spirit. It is specially important that an individual starting a business or the manager/chairperson in a group has this spirit.
Third to mobilise are Local Resources
The third resource to mobilise, before coming to either donor funding or bank money, are the local resources land, water, minerals, domestic animals, wildlife, whatever. In most parts of Africa, many of these resources have been commercialised by foreign interests. In the name of "development" they are actually "underdeveloping" Africa. They take away most of these resources out of Africa to feed their own industries. Africa is not poor in resources; only Africans do not own them. In the long run, they have to struggle to regain control over those resources, or else they Will forever remain poor. In the meantime, whatever local resources are available must first be mobilised.
Fourth to mobilise is Money-capital
We have deliberately used the hyphenated term - "money-capital". What is needed is not "money" pure and simple, but money that can be used as capital. What is capital? Capital is money that can buy goods and services which enter into the process of production (and marketing). This, of course, includes not only raw materials and machinery but also labour-power, management expertise, and transport and storage facilities. PWDs should not look for money for the sake of "subsistence," or for advancing it to relatives for funeral expenses, for example. Money must be sought so that it can be turned into "productive capital."
Sources of Capital
It should be clear that what we are looking for is not money per se, but capital - that which can be turned into productive use. The next question is: Where do we get it from? We get it from several sources. Generally, however, they fall into three categories - own capital, grant (which is "free" capital, that which usually comes from a "donor" and does not have to be returned to him), and loan, or borrowed capital.
Conventionally, PWDs have depended on grants from charitable institutions or from the government. Up to a point this is justified, on grounds of "affirmative action" (a subject we discussed earlier). But no self-respecting enterprise can continue to feed itself on grants forever.
Grants can, in fact, be counterproductive: they can kill initiative, and those human qualities that we listed earlier which are necessary for any enterprise to succeed. So if you, as a new enterprise, need a bit of a grant as "starting capital" that's generally acceptable; but you must have some of your own capital (from savings), and you must get out of the grant situation as fast as possible. It is not good for your "spirit."
The Entebbe Workshop concluded a discussion on this issue with a recommendation that:
Existing alternative forms of saving and lending,
such as the tontines in most parts of West Africa, the Biika Weguze in
Uganda, the burial societies in Southern Africa, and other informal rotating
schemes should be built upon as the primary source of mobilization of savings
and community resources for income generating projects.
We must learn to save. Try to save a little even from the little you have. Burial societies in Southern Africa have accumulated literally millions of dollars from small savings of migrant workers. The tontines in West Africa do the same. If you cannot save, then you must regard yourself as not qualified to get into business in the first place. As the business grows, you will no doubt be able to save more. But if you have not acquired the saving habit, chances are that you will not save even from a larger enterprise.
Bigger enterprises raise what is called "share capital" from the stock exchange. That is also "owners' capital" because the shareholders own the enterprise. They take risk, and in return for it they expect to get, not interest on capital, but "dividends," or a share in profits.
Borrowed or loan capital
Loan capital is that on which you have to pay an interest - an added sum of money over and above the capital borrowed. Capital can be borrowed from several sources. Traditionally, "money-lenders" used to (and still do in many part of rural Africa) loan their accumulated wealth. They usually do so at exorbitant interest rates. They could tie you down in perpetual debt.
Commercial banks are the normal type of loan institutions. They usually require a "collateral" before they advance you money. This kind of loan teaches you to be disciplined about the use of the capital, for otherwise you stand the risk of losing your collateral.
Collateral is simply an asset you possess (such as land, or a
house) whose ownership you stake against the loan you raise - in the event you
fail to pay the loan, the bank takes over your asset.
Small Business or Industrial Development Organisations exist in most African countries to help set small enterprises. Their loans are usually cheaper, in that they normally charge a lower rate of interest on money (called "concessional interest"), and they can give you a longer "grace period" (a period when you don't have to pay the interest).
Donor NGOs also provide loans (as well as grants). Again, their loans are likely to be on "soft" terms Just as those of small business development institutions.
Finally, we must introduce another source of loan capital, called a "revolving loan scheme." It is a cooperative form of raising loan capital, one of the most innovative forms of raising capital for small enterprises. For this reason, and because it excited considerable interest at the Entebbe Workshop, we shall take it up again in a separate appendix to this chapter.
Fifth to mobilise are material and support resources
These are resources that have to be bought on the open market. They include not only material resources (such as machinery, transport and communications equipment, raw materials, etc.), but also human resources, such as skilled and unskilled labour.
Mobilising resources is only the first part of the battle. The second is running the enterprise. The key to a successfully running enterprise is, of course, competent management. We have already given the necessary qualities of a good manager - one who is an innovator, an optimist, an extremely hard worker, a good planner, one who can take risks but after careful research and thought, one who commands respect among colleagues and junior staff, one who is a "leader."
Sometimes, however, with the best management in the world, things go wrong. Usually, this happens when matters fall outside the control of management - such as fire and theft; recurring droughts or floods that make farming impossible; deep recession in the economy which ruins enterprises across the board; wildly fluctuating interest rates and foreign exchange rates in a situation where these are critical factors in production and marketing; civil conflict, war, and general political instability; etc.
These are the "imponderables" of business. Not much can be done about them. Nonetheless, a good manager would know how to anticipate some of these events, and plan beforehand - such as taking insurance policies to cover against accidents; selling cattle before the drought hits them; business diversification during periods of recession; forward purchase of foreign exchange, etc. But such matters take us on the horizon of modern sophisticated business practices, which is not the focus of this guide.
We give below a brief account of projects run by PWDs. These were presented at the Entebbe Workshop by the participants. Limitation of space forces us to give only short descriptions of a few examples. Since almost all the organisations that participated in the Workshop were those that had received assistance from either the ADF or the ILO or both, it is not possible to give examples of financially self-reliant organisations such as the tontines or Biika Weguze referred to earlier. However, in one case, the Uganda National Association of the Blind, which has been in existence for 24 years, received donor funding only in the last two years. [Indeed, what impact this new development has made on the organisation - negative or positive - is an open question]. This is not to say that donor funding is not important. It can sometimes be quite critical. But, above all, the examples show that it is the spirit of the people which is their primary resource.
Tariro Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre, Harare
This institution in Zimbabwe receives psychiatric patients after they have been discharged from hospitals and before they go to their communities or homes. In this project, the municipality offered land to the Centre. The government pays staff salaries, and 100 Zimbabwe dollars as per capita grant per individual. The African Development Foundation gave an initial grant of Z$18,000. Tariro Centre grows vegetables and has a poultry project of 1,500 chickens. They have saved money which they have used to buy cattle and to cultivate another piece of land. "The project is now self-sustaining," the delegate concluded. "Given the chance, we can mobilise resources locally and sustain ourselves; we started in 1990, and the project is still going on." A re settlement center for persons ready to leave Tariro has been established outside Harare at Beatrice. There, former patients are conducting their own agricultural activities by growing vegetables, raising chickens and cows and getting settled back into community life.
Amaldeme Grinder and Huller Project
The Malian Association for The Prevention of Mental Deficiencies in Children is based in Bamako and was created in 1984 to provide diagnostic and treatment services for youth and support for their families. The grinder and huller project intends to train twelve mentally retarded youth and six family members to operate the mills in six communities in Bamako. From locally gown cotton, Amaldeme is also Producing clothing that is sold to sustain the Association's projects. The projects are designed to engage youth in meaningful activities and to demonstrate to the community at large that the mentally retarded can contribute to family and society.
Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB)
The Association has existed for 24 years. There are about 500,000 blind or visually impaired people in Uganda. The initial 22 years of UNAB were based entirely on voluntary work by the members. Donor funding came in the last two years only. The Association identified skills among its members, tapped and utilised them. It has 23 branches. In each branch they have a different system according to its specific situation.
In Gulu, for example, they got land on which they cultivate vegetables. They have set aside three days every week to work on the common garden. In Luwero they have a bricks moulding project which has kept them going. In Jinja a group came together to set up a training centre.
In another group, sustainability has been maintained out of payment of membership fees; furthermore, each member has contributed two chickens which were put together as a group project. The eggs and chicken are sold to raise money. "So resources are not only money," concluded the representative of UNAB, "but includes people, items, etc. that are used to sustain a group."
Ousmane Traore of the Amaldeme project working at the grain mill. (Photo by R.J. Benn)
The Ghana CBR Programme
The experience from Ghana was that the community with PWDs undertook to cultivate beans but had no money to buy the seeds. So they went to a company which gave them the seeds With an agreement that after harvesting, they would return double the amount of beans given. The group did so, and went on to produce more beans.
In another project, a committee went to the faculty of agriculture at the University of Science and Technology to seek advice on how to undertake a fish pond project. After the project had taken off successfully and generated some income, they were able to pay for the consultancy fees to the university. Another example was a maize project. People went to the rural bank and obtained a loan. After harvesting they paid back even though they had to double the amount.
All this was organised by the local committees and the resources raised locally.
National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ)
The NCDPZ was set up as an alternative to the charity model. Now most of their groups are self-sustaining. One group owns a supermarket. The initial funds were received from an outside do nor. All but one of the members are PWDs. Another group has a small catering project, where they sell beer and minerals. These 5 disabled persons have been able to get above the poverty line. Another group acquired a piece of land where vegetables are grown for sale and another piece turned into a commercial car park with about 50 cars a day. They charge a small amount to leave your car there.
Members of Greenfields Canvas Products Makers sewing a truck tarpaulin. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
Greenfields Disabled Peoples Association, Uganda
The challenge of unemployment forced a group of disabled youth to organise themselves. With donor funding and a "stock" of local talent and skills, 58 of them set out in 1986 to make products made of canvas -including tents, truck covers, full camp gear, hospital bedcovers, school bags and safari bags. Owing to the nature of the work involved, the membership of the association is mainly for the physically impaired with 60:40 as the ratio between men and women. "We used to look for jobs before," the delegate explained, "but now we are in a position to give Jobs. The community around us is changing its attitude towards the disabled people and are offering to become partners in business."
Book-binding Project in Senegal
This is a project of the Union for Training Production and Insertion of Handicapped (UFPIH). It was started in 1986 with one disabled youth who had skills in book-binding. First he trained some friends in the same trade, and an NGO based in Switzerland for PWDs assisted in the training.
"They gave us just the equipment and the raw materials. We were able to take the raw materials and make products for sale." Success built on itself "We have now opened up four other workshops and we are able to train in other skills."
A member of UFPIH preparing pages to be bound. (Photo by UFPIH)
Question from the floor: "Do you have problems about marketing?" Delegate: "Yes, we do. We have the techniques and skills for production but with our mobility difficulties it is a problem transporting the goods and looking for market. So we have decided to commission agents to represent us and our products. These agents go out and market our products and then get a small commission of 10 percent. These agents are not part of the group, but they are good people, they are sincerely interested in our group."
Bamugambe Society of the Disabled, Jinja, Uganda
A group of about 40 members, all disabled persons, sell produce like sugar cane. They approached farmers in the local community and got items on loan. After selling, they paid the farmers and kept the difference. From this project, they have mobilised income to sustain their project and have acquired kiosks in town. The group has never received any donor funding but they have a high degree of motivation and independence.
A. For Persons with Disability
· To succeed in business, there is no substitute for hard work. If members in a cooperative IGP are not prepared to work hard, it is best they do not start business at all.
· In starting to put a project on the ground, PWDs must start with their own resources first. They must first risk their own assets before they call on the assets of others.
· They must learn from the experience of the tontines, the Biika Weguze and burial societies.
· They must start projects modestly, and then build upwards, rather than start big and then fall.
· Whether it is an individual or a group project, a team spirit is essential for success. In a cooperative it is the team spirit of its members. In an individual enterprise, it is the team spirit of its workers that the manager has to induce. All production is social; there is no individual in society who can produce on his or her own.
· They must not confuse between money and capital. Often enterprises fail because they use up the capital for purposes of consumption (beer parties, expensive clothes, houses and cars, etc.) rather than for production.
· Production is a function of the application of "real resources," such as land, labour and enterprise. No matter how much money we have, if the 11 real resources" are not wisely used in production, money cannot save the situation.
· Credit or revolving loan schemes are an innovative way of raising collective funds. But they are not "free riding" public transport to success. Unless there is commitment on the part of the members to return loaned money back into the pool, the schemes cannot be sustained.
B. For IGOs and NGOs working with PWDs
· IGOs and (NGOs) are generally only providers of money-capital. But that is not enough. They should facilitate the putting of the projects on the ground during the implementation stage by closely monitoring difficulties that could arise during this phase.
· Providing for training in management skills is often a better investment than capital put into purely purchasing equipment, raw materials and consultancy.
· Putting money into a Credit Scheme is a good idea, provided the scheme is well managed either by the PWDs themselves, or by a commercial bank or some other responsible and accountable institution.
Some issues fur Further Discussion
What explains the "Donor Dependency Syndrome" (DDS) among some groups engaged in IGPs?
A related question: How do enterprises in the "informal sector," burial societies, tontines and the Biika Weguze survive without depending on donors?
Are good managers "born" as such, or can they be created through training and experience?
Why is "money" not a resource? What is the difference between "money 11 and "capital"?
Is the Entebbe recommendation on the "revolving loan scheme" (see
What is an RLS? It is simply a pooling mechanism for capital. Essentially it is a fund that "revolves" round a series of potential beneficiaries. You borrow from the fund for your enterprise - it could be an individual enterprise or a cooperative venture. When you pay back the money, it goes back into the pool for another beneficiary to use. The advantage of such a scheme is that it is specifically targeted for certain kinds of activities and for certain kinds of borrowers. Over time, those who manage the scheme know their borrowers and the activities, and can offer specialised advice to the users of the fund.
There are two kinds of RL Schemes.
1. Cooperative Revolving Loan Scheme
2. Commercially-Operated Loan Scheme
In the first case, the beneficiaries themselves own and manage the pool; in the second case, a bank or some such organisation owns and manages the pool. In the first case, the fund could initially be raised through pooling together the beneficiaries' own savings (much like burial societies do), or it could be raised as a grant from a donor NGO, or commercially from a bank. If the scheme is successful, and members duly pay back their capital and interest, the fund can grow in size and the members can decide either to go into a large collective venture, or to distribute some of the earned income as dividends among themselves. A cooperative loan scheme is better for the PWDs to establish, provided, of course, they have the requisite financial management skills. Many cooperative schemes of this kin have failed because of lack of these skills.
There is a variant of this scheme that we should know about. This is the so-called Revolving Loan Guarantee Scheme (RLGS). In this case, you do not draw out of the pool directly. The pool is there only as a "guarantee" against defaults of capital borrowed from commercial banks. [A "default" is when a borrower fails to pay back his or her loan]. The "Guarantee" acts as a kind of collateral. This is a useful way for people who have no collateral (assets) of their own. They come together to act as each other's guarantors against loans borrowed from the banks or lending institutions.
At the Entebbe Workshops much interest was shown by the participants in the running of such a loan scheme in Kenya.
Kenya Credit Scheme for the Disabled Entrepreneurs: A Case Study
The ILO/UNDP funded revolving loan scheme in Kenya was one of the successful projects for PWDs. The project was started after realising that the main objective of vocational training had the following problems:
a) Graduates of vocational rehabilitation Centres lacked materials, tools and equipment to start their own business, even after getting the training; and
b) they lacked entrepreneurial or business skills.
Several steps were, therefore, taken - namely:
· identification and promotion of those who would benefit from the scheme and have an interest in self-sustaining business;
· after identification and selection of entrepreneurs, a five-day intensive training is carried out in the business management skills;
· after training, those who needed assistance such as working capital, raw materials, tools and equipment are advised to write a business plan that would be taken to the bank. The loan is disbursed only after the bank is satisfied that the proposal is viable.
The ILO/UNDP deposited US dollars 500,000 in a local commercial bank as security or guarantee. Initially, there were problems of convincing bank branch managers to take on the loan scheme but the media helped to publicise the scheme. The training of bank managers was organised by the project.
Conditions and performance:
· In addition to the guarantee fund provided by the project, the clients are encouraged to get guarantors from their own community - religious leaders, etc. Furthermore, business assets (e.g. machinery) acquired by the project are also placed as collateral.
· The maximum repayment period is 36 months, but it varies with the type of business.
· Interest rate was 19 percent in 1990 and it had remained at that level even though the interest rate in the Central Bank had gone up to 26 percent. Thus the PWDs are getting money more cheaply than in the open market.
· The period of grace is about three months but this also depends on the nature and gestation period of the business.
· There is no minimum because it is determined by the business, proposal, but the maximum is 150,000 K Shillings (about US$ 260).
· The loan scheme is open to both groups or associations of PWDs and to individuals.
How well did the scheme perform?
Since the scheme started in 1989, it had trained 1,100 PWDs. However, out of these only 256 could present fundable projects and had received loans. Out of 256, about 19 had defaulted completely, 41 were struggling to repay and were being assisted, and 39 had repaid in total. The causes for default varied from region to region. Political activities had affected the scheme because some politicians during their campaigns told the people that the loan was a grant, and so they decided not to pay back the loans. Other causes are social: for example, funds had been diverted to build houses or marry more wives.
The issue of Revolving Loan Scheme was discussed in one of the working groups of the Entebbe Workshop, which, in its plenary session, adopted the following resolution:
Funding partners should accord priority to projects involving revolving loan schemes. Organisations of PWDs in Africa should plan and secure resources for revolving loan schemes to provide the following services and facilities:
· 100% loan financing for projects of both individuals and groups of PWDs.
· Training through existing NGO networks of PWD entrepreneurs in business planning, management and providing of outreach business, monitoring, counselling and support services.
· Sensitisation of mainstream organisations in order to reach PWDs in rural and urban centres in each country.
· Promote publicity of the revolving loan scheme to the wider society.
· The revolving loan should be managed through an appropriate financial institution that will be responsible for the processing, approval and monitoring of financial projects.
· The revolving loan schemes should be uniquely designed in line with political and economic cercumstances of each country; but should subscribe to the following general principles:
A multi-disciplinary board of directors with representatives of PWDs should be elected by the promoting agencies to run the affairs for the schemes.
A negotiated interest rate on loans and an agreed grace period based on the gestation period of the project should be agreed upon by the partners involved.
A reasonable repayment period in light of the nature of the project, size of the loan and other considerations should be incorporated in the contract agreement.
Clear logistical plans to enable potential beneficiaries to get speedy access to information and loan procedures should be part and parcel of the revolving loan strategy.
Clear sustainability plan linked to investment plan for the loan guarantee fund should be put in place right from the beginning.
· This workshop recommends that agencies such as ADF, NGOs and UNDP should incorporate a deliberate policy within their funding and technical assistance policies focusing on revolving loan schemes.
· For higher levels of funding, groups should approach financial institutions.
As can be seen, it is an ambitious vision. It may be too ambitious. The proposed RLS is not just a national scheme but a multinational (or pan-African) one to cater specifically for the PWDs. It seeks to direct the RLS to provide 100% loans to the beneficiaries (both individuals and groups). Beyond its usual financing function, it also mandates the RLS to provide training, business planning, management, outreach business service, monitoring, counselling and support services.
There is no reason why this vision should not be pursued. However, it might add weight if the participating organizations are prepared to pledge some of their own savings into the pool, besides seeking soft funds from donor organizations. This way they will put some of their own assets at stake, and thus be forced to take a direct interest in ensuring its success.
An on-going process of continuous monitoring of the project is essential if the problems are to be identified early enough before they get worse, and solutions found to them. Monitoring the performance of a project (or enterprise) is an important management tool. Evaluation, on the other hand, is a more long term tool of analysis of the performance of the project. It tests the project against its intended objectives. Let us illustrate.
Asante Shoe Repairs
This is a hypothetical case. Ndege, Elinasi and Sinamacho set up a shoe-repairing shop called Asante Shoe Repairs. Ndege and Elinasi were physically impaired and Sinamacho was blind. Ndege had all the necessary skills for shoe repairing, and he took on Elinasi and Sinamacho as apprentices. They managed to get a loan from a bank to buy the necessary tools, leather, strings, glue and other items, and they hired a shop.
For the first year things were going well. But suddenly, the relations between them began to go sour. Ndege took all the decisions, and this was sometimes resented by Elinasi and Sinamacho. But they did not complain because they were apprentices. Elinasi used to repair women's shoes, but she developed skills for designing shoes that could be useful to diversify the business from simply repairing to making new shoes for women. But this required further investment. Ndege would not listen.
Sinamacho, too, was getting frustrated. He would sometimes not turn up for work at all. Business began to suffer. In the meantime, the price of leather shot up. But they could not pass on the increased cost to the customers for fear of losing them. On account of inflation, even the bank raised the interest on their loan. Because of these changed circumstances, the profits of Asante Shoe Repairs went down, and the three partners could not even draw their monthly salaries.
Let us now analyse what happened. There are two important things to notice about the story.
a) One is that Ndege was taking all the decisions. This was all right as long as he was training the other two as apprentices. But as the two acquired skills they felt they had something to contribute by way of making decisions.
b) The second is that circumstances changed. The price of leather went up. So did the interest rate. On the other hand, Elinasi proved to be quite a genius. Her designing potential came to the fore, and she had bright ideas on how to diversify the business into designing as well as repairing.
What is the moral of the story? It is this, that even if all the planning is done correctly, and a project put on the ground on a firm basis, this does not ensure its success. You need to continuously MONITOR the progress, or lack of progress, of the project. Why? Because things change. Things develop. And they can develop both on the negative as well as on the positive side. You have got to take into account the changed circumstances, and adapt accordingly: take advantage of positive developments, and try to resolve problems that might have arisen.
In the case of Asante Shoe Repairs, a weekly monitoring system should have been set up right from the start. Had they done so, Ndege would have realised that his partners were not going to remain "apprentices" forever. Also, the reason for Sinamacho absenting himself from work would have been analyzed, and Elinasi's ideas would have had a fair chance of being considered. Also, they would have looked into the implications for business of the rise in the price of the loan and the leather.
This is what we know as monitoring. You keep a periodic, but continuous, watch over the progress and the changed circumstances of your business (or project), and you make the necessary changes to accommodate the new situation.
Evaluation is much like monitoring, but it usually comes at the end of a longer period of time. It is also more comprehensive. And often the project holders engage an outside professional to come and do an objective and critical evaluation of the project.
In the case of Asante Shoe Repairs, being a small company, they could have carried out an evaluation themselves. On the other hand, since the relationship between the partners had become a bit strained, they could have asked an outside evaluator to come and look into their business and find out what was going right and what was going wrong. The evaluator would have carried out both a financial and business analysis of the company as well as a "structural" analysis, i.e. an analysis of the organisation and decision-making structures of the enterprise.
When a project is funded by a donor agency, it is usual for the donor to seek its evaluation at the end of the project period, or mid-way between the project cycle. The donor normally likes to know if the money given as a loan or a grant has been used according to the initially agreed objectives and conditions, and what needs to be done if things are not going according to plan.
Here it is important to introduce the concept of participatory evaluation. This is evaluation by an external person (or company) with the participation of the project holders. The advantage here is that it combines the skills and objective perspective of an outside evaluator with the project holders' knowledge of the inner dynamics of the organisation or project.
The evaluator holds a mirror through which the project holders engage in a critical self-appraisal.
Like planning, the concepts of monitoring and evaluation have to be "demystified," their "scare element" removed from them. The problem with many of these concepts is that "professionals" or "experts" seize them and occupy them, like seats. Then they give them some highly technical meaning, and surround them With a mystery only they can unfold. Ordinary people then get scared, and have to call in the "experts" to carry out monitoring and evaluation.
As the previous example of Asante Shoe Repairs shows, there is no mystery about these concepts. Every project should have a built-in mechanism for monitoring and evaluation. There are no standard techniques for monitoring and evaluation, though some "experts" claim their existence. With a bit of common sense and a lot of leadership skills (especially, openness of mind and willingness to be self-critical) any project holder can make his or her own instruments (methods) for self-monitoring and self-evaluation. Outside consultants may be asked to come in to help in the process, or to overcome some difficult problems, but overall, it is a process that the project holders must keep firmly in their hands. After all, it is they who have to take on the consequences of these processes.
Usually, when a project is funded by a donor it is the donor that requests an evaluation. Evaluation, consequently, has acquired a bad name - it is often seen by the project holders as a "policing" exercise by the donor. They think the donor is going to discover something wrong about the project and stop funding them.
Such a view of evaluation is both unhealthy and unconstructive. In fact, the project holders should not wait for a donor evaluation of their project. Whether the donor undertakes it or not, it is important that regular evaluation of the project is done by the project holders themselves. It is for their own benefit.
So how does one go about monitoring and evaluation? A few simple principles may help.
Monitoring questionnaire: Please fill out the following questions and return it to the manager by close of business every Friday:
1. Division: [eg, Designing shoes, or Sales Department]
And so on
Participants at the Entebbee workshop discussing evaluation methods. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
1. Management must insist on regular reporting by each person or each division (or department) on the condition of work (s)he or the division is engaged in. Depending on the size of the enterprise, the reporting could be a weekly affair or a monthly one. Again, depending on the size, the reports could be written or verbal.
2. It is better, as far as possible, to encourage a written report (even if it is only one page), because it helps to build a record of the performance. This is called "documentation." It is also called building an "institutional memory" of the enterprise. It is like a diary -you put on record what has been happening in your sector of work, the problems you have faced, the progress you have made, and so on.
The management can help the process by working out a simple, practical, questionnaire that every head of division has to fill out every week (or so) and submit to the manager.
3. It is important, however, not to make monitoring a " mechanical" exercise, something undertaken without heart, without spirit. The management has to motivate his/her cooperative members (or staff), and introduce a human dimension to their relations. Therefore, there should be regular monitoring meetings (say monthly or quarterly) at which the monitoring reports are collectively discussed and issues thrashed out in a participatory manner.
4. Following each monitoring meeting, an action plan must be worked out in order to handle issues discussed.
5. These, then, need to be followed up in subsequent monitoring reports and meetings.
1. Because it is a longer term exercise than monitoring, an evaluation has to be more carefully planned, and in greater detail.
2. It is important, first, to set out the objectives of the evaluation. What are we evaluating? What are we measuring? By what 11 criteria," or yardstick, would we regard our enterprise as being successful? These objectives must be set out in full consultation with the rest of the members of the group (or senior staff).
3. The statement of objectives must be followed by listing many questions that are critical to the evaluation process. These should deal both with the human dimensions of the enterprise (such as the decision-making process, power relationships within the enterprise) as well as with the technical and financial aspects.
4. Then, it is necessary to set out the methodology of the evaluation. How much time should be set aside for the evaluation -one month? six? Should it be through people filling out a questionnaire? Or should it be based on "depth interviews" of the key decision-makers? Or a combination of the two? Should we look at all the activities of the group In a comprehensive manner? Or should we just take a "sample" of the most important activities?
5. Following that, a team of evaluators must be appointed. It should be a small team - not more than three to four people. They could be appointed from within the enterprise -people who are respected for their work, leadership and fair-mindedness. It is also useful to attach to the team, preferably, somebody from the outside who can provide an "external" (and therefore a more "objective") perspective to the evaluation.
6. The Evaluation Report, as far as possible, should be a written one. Once again, it helps to build the "institutional memory' of the enterprise. It should end with a brief summary of the "main findings" (or conclusions), and a set of "recommendations" on how the enterprise might improve its performance.
7. The report should be discussed at various levels of the enterprise, and the members (or staff) should be given an opportunity to comment on the report, and make their own inputs. The report may need to be amended in the light of these inputs.
8. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations should become part of the future planning process of the enterprise.
A. Far Persons with Disability
· PWDs must maintain regular monitoring of the performance of the enterprise. As the proverb goes: "A stitch in time saves nine."
· In monitoring, they must maintain an open mind about being criticised for their limitations, and be prepared to amend or repair damage.
· The same applies to evaluation, except that it has to be much more rigorous and planned in detail.
· They should employ external evaluators where necessary. However, they must retain full internal control of the enterprise and the processes of transformation.
B. For the Government
· It should monitor the quality performance of IGPs.
· It should ensure that foreign funded projects do not destroy or impair local initiative.
C. For NGOs, INGOs and Donors
· They should not use evaluation as a policing
Some Areas fur Further Discussion
In spite of the obvious advantages of regular monitoring of the performance of IGPs, it is seldom done. What explains this refusal to utilize one of the most useful tools of management? Could it be linked with a dictatorial style of management?
How does a dictatorial style of management affect the monitoring and evaluation of the project?
What is the difference between monitoring and evaluation? What different objectives do they fulfil?
What are the advantages of "participatory evaluation"? When may an outsider evaluator be called upon to help with an evaluation process?
Look at the examples given in Chapter 8 again, and consider the
reasons for their success or
Now that we have gone through the major stages of an income generating project - namely, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation - we need to get to the question of how to build the "capacity' of individual PWDs and the organization (or the project) to undertake all these activities.
The Entebbe Workshop defined "capacity building" as follows:
Capacity and capability building is defined as the empowerment which encompasses the ability, will and skills to initiate, plan, manage, undertake, organise, budget, monitor/supervise and evaluate project activities. Thus capacity and capability building are related to the organizational and functional levels as well as to individuals, groups and institutions. In the light of the above definition, and the paralytic effect of the lack of capacity and capability, the Workshop provided the following guidelines to capacity and capability building programmes or components of projects:
· Education, as the key to information and ability, should, as a matter of policy, be made available to all PWDs within the mainstream services subject to the suitable training of instructors or change agents to meet the specific needs of the various disabilities. This was an immediate need in respect of children.
· With regard to adults, it was recommended that a sufficiently structured adult education system which imparts skills relevant and useful to the various disabilities should be instituted.
· For integrated training and education services to take place, it was proposed that attention be paid to the need for technology inputs required by the adaptation to accommodate the needs of the PWDs.
· In addition to education and training, capacity and capability building should be pursued through informal approaches like networking, visits to similar projects within the country, neighbouring states and the continent whenever possible.
· Continuous learning can also be ensured through instruments like refresher courses, correspondence, personal reading, club and group membership and participation in special activities like seminars, feasibility studies, appraisals and evaluation projects.
· Finally, it was resolved and recommended that the professionals who work with people with disabilities should understand and have the experience and positive attitude to work with individuals, groups and organizations in building of local knowledge and experience with a view to strengthening their institutional capacity.
That says it all. However, we need to break this comprehensive and lofty resolution into analytical parts for highlighting some of its essential elements.
Capacity and capability building was defined at the Workshop as "empowerment...."
"Capacity," somehow, sounded a bit too technical,
like the capacity of a motorcar, not human enough. Also, "capacity building"
sounded somewhat "top down," like filling a bottle with medicine. Capacity
building is a mechanical concept. Empowerment, on the other band, goes well with
the contemporary trend towards a participatory, "bottom-up" approach to
Empowerment is the new embellishment on the older concept of capacity building. It is also different in its emphasis. It emphasises the notion of power. People must be empowered to do their own things - nay, people must self-empower, they must not wait for somebody else to empower them. Linguistic revolutions provide useful insights into new trends. The word empowerment is one such concept. However, we shall treat capacity building and empowerment as essentially meaning the same thing.
What are its ingredients, its components?
Empowerment has many aspects to it. Let us put them in some analytical order - in our usual form of a continuum, starting, on the extreme left, with 11 the inner self," and going on to the extreme right, with the ability and skills to lobby society. In between are skills and resources that are necessary for PWDs to enable them to gain self-reliance.
People are not empty bottles to fill. They are candles with
inner energy to light
Self-respect and self-confidence to be self-reliant
Conceptual analytical and research skills
Knowledge and information
Lobbying and advocacy skills
Self-respect and self confidence to be self-reliant
Let us recall part of the definition of "development" that we quoted from Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in Chapter 2. He defined it as:
... a process which enables human beings to realise
their potential, build self confidence, and lead lives of dignity and
fulfilment. It is a process which frees people from the fear of want and
In its definition of "capacity and capability building" the Entebbe Workshop, too, emphasises the point about "the ability, the will and skills..." that PWDs must have to undertake various tasks related to income generating projects. The most powerful personal quality here is "the will"; it is the inner energy that motivates the individual. It is the most dynamic force.
In Chapter 4, we gave the analogy of the chicken and the egg - the inner energy is the force inside the egg that hatches it into a chicken. We did go on to say, however, that the external environment (humidity, warmth, etc) are also important to enable the inner energy to fulfil its potential.
Thus, although without a strong motivating force that moves the inner spirit forward, a PWD will probably never succeed in pulling herself or himself out of the limitations, there must be an environmental support for her/him to allow that energy to ripen the potential. That is where education and training come in.
Conceptual, analytical and research skills
We put this as the second most important "capacity" to develop. Vocational training (for example, furniture making or printing) is, of course, important. But even more important is the ability to conceptualise, to analyse and to carry out research. Without these the PWDs will find themselves always at the mercy of "experts" who can do these things.
Earlier, we gave examples of how experts" seize and occupy concepts such as "planning, monitoring, research and evaluation" and monopolise them. These concepts are no mysteries. Anybody can handle them with a trained mind that can conceptualise issues and analyse them. The ability to carry out research is an essential component of that faculty. The impartation of these skills should be one of the most important components in the education of PWDs, especially children.
"Development" Code Sketch from Narendra Basnet
This is one more reason why disabled children should not be isolated from mainstream educational institutions, for that impairs their conceptual and analytical skills. It gives them a derogatory, inferior, bias about themselves and kills their self-esteem.
Knowledge and information
Much of our educational system is based on "the bucket" principle - you fill the bucket with "information." But true knowledge comes through putting to question all received knowledge. Why? Because "knowledge" is not neutral. It is an embodiment of existing cultural practices (even prejudices) and power structures. The PWDs know this from their own experience, and have had to fight to remove these prejudices and power configurations.
Of course, information is important. Without it you are in the dark. We need to be informed on all matters that affect our lives. But we need also to give information. We are not simply recipients of knowledge and information packaged by others. We are also creators of knowledge and information.
Into this category also we may put the knowledge about vocational occupations. PWDs need to be provided with technical and vocational skills pertinent to their projects. Such institutions of learning as are equipped to provide these skills must have both the human (training staff) and tools that are sensitive to the accessibility and communicative needs of the people with disabilities. (See below: on the pedagogy of disability training).
Productive resources: natural and human
Next in importance, for successful income generating projects, are the resources with which to engage in productive activity. We have discussed these at some length in the chapter on "planning" (Ch. 6). We need only to repeat here two important elements:
One is that the human resources are often more important than material. Too often IGP holders assume that if only they are given "capital" everything would be solved. Wrong. Money can create its own problems unless it is taken and used with the right spirit. The spirit, the human dimension, is the more important. In relation to IGPs, in particular, it is important to cultivate the qualities of openness, leadership, accountability, humaneness, diligence, the ability to resolve personal differences, the capacity to face up to challenges, and so on.
The second essential element that needs repeating is that the "hard" resources (land, capital, etc.) must begin with one's own assets and savings. Loan capital is sometimes very necessary for the initiation and survival of IGPs, but borrowed capital cannot build the long-term sustainability of projects. The addictive donor dependency syndrome is one of the most negative "capacities" to create among PWDs (as, indeed, among all those aspiring to start IGPs of their own). Unfortunately, it is a virus that has affected most IGPs. It is fatal for the spirit of self-reliance.
Appropriate aids for PWDs
A simple ramp in a village
Source: D. Werner, Disabled Village Children
These are necessary. There can be no argument about this. However, there is an argument about how they arc produced, who produces them, and what kinds of support can the state, or the community, or the IGOs and NGOs provide in securing them. Where possible, it is better that PWDs are provided with skills to make these themselves. David Werner, in his book Disabled Village Children, has excellent illustrations of these.
Many of these devices are better "home-made" purely from the view of practicality, convenience, adaptability and maintenance. But, of course, there are aids that have to be commercially designed and made, even imported. These must be subsidized and duty-freed by the state under the policy of affirmative action.
The Entebbe Workshop also emphasised the importance of consulting with PWDs before supplying them with assistive devices. An example was quoted of a politician, seeking favour for votes, donating a wheel-chair to a blind person in a village. To the able-bodied person, all the disabled people are the same: they all need wheel-chairs!
IGPs that are isolated from the mainstream economy can fail if the policy environment is not conducive to them. It is not enough for PWDs to concentrate on income generation. They must also influence policy, both economic and social. To this end, their capacity to interact with the rest of the civil society must be nurtured and developed. This is one of the stronger arguments in favour of the CBR strategy that we discussed in Chapter 4.
PWDs must network with organizations such as consumer associations, trade unions and human rights groups in order to join forces With them, and to learn about how lobbying can help protect their human, consumer and worker rights. More about this in the next chapter.
Building Institutional Capacity
Developing individual skills is only one aspect of "capacity building." The other aspect is "institution building."
Organisational matters are at least as important as developing individual competence and talent. The capitalist form of organization, in many ways, is easier. Since the capital is owned either by an individual or by a corporate body, the workers are not responsible for critical decisions that affect the sustainability of the enterprise. The "bosses" take all the important decisions. Also, after all the costs have been paid out (including the wages of workers), the profits are all taken by the owners of capital.
In a cooperative form of organization, on the other hand, the assets (land, machinery, etc. and the final products) are all collectively owned. Hence, decisions regarding production and marketing have to be collectively taken. Also, the profits have to be shared between the members in a manner that is acceptable to all. Both these aspects of cooperative production involve difficult human as well as technical considerations. Hence, a cooperative organization is often more vulnerable (exposed) to human failures than a capitalist enterprise. (See Chapter 5 on the advantages and disadvantages of group as opposed to individual enterprises.)
But we should not, on the other hand, exaggerate these differences. Human relations are very important in any set-up. Even capitalist enterprises, these days, are realising the importance of involving workers in certain decisions. The important point is that often enterprises fail not because of lack of skills or technical competence on the part of individuals but because of organizational incapacity to handle difficult human relations within the enterprise.
That is why it is as important to build "institutional capacity" as it is to develop individual skills. To some extent, the capitalist world system has been very innovative in developing specialised courses for institution building. This system has mapped out organisational strategies for all kinds of conceivable situations, and PWDs engaged in individual production can take advantage of these courses in various public (e.g. universities and vocational institutes) and private (e.g. commercial colleges) that offer certificate, diploma- and degree-level proficiencies. It is the cooperative forms of organisational strategies that have so far proved generally difficult. That is not to say that these don't exist. They do. But precisely because the human and the contextual (or situational) dimensions are so important in a cooperative organization, it has been difficult to rationalise these courses in training institutions in the manner in which those organised along the capitalist lines have been able to do.
All productive activity is social - whether, it is based on
employing wage workers or on a cooperative basis.
Therefore, for those PWD enterprises that are organised along cooperative lines, it is important for them to try to work out their own system of organising production and conducting human relations. They can get some assistance from public institutions offering courses in cooperative management, but they should not count on them too much. They must depend largely on their own innovative skills, and positive human conduct, as a basis for building their institutional capacity. And that means, largely, a good leadership - a leadership that is transparent, open, visionary and accountable to the members. In short, a democratic organisation. The leadership of the DPOs should have the ability and humility to tap the skills of non-disabled people.
Training is important. But even more important is "how?" You can train a person, for instance, to repair a car, but in the process you can break down his self-confidence, his humanity, through, for example, being over-critical of him. The approach is at least as important as the substance of training. That's why there is an increasing tendency these days to emphasise "bottom-up" approaches to training rather than "top-down".
In this respect, the ILO study in Zimbabwe on Social Work and Disability has some good advice for social workers who work amongst PWDs. According to the study, social workers must have:
· an eclectic and wide knowledge base, which helps them to be effective link persons (unlike narrow specialisms such as medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, or physiotherapy);
· training in community work, which can be applied very effectively to the field of rehabilitation;
· good communication, interviewing and counselling skills, which would be helpful in negotiation, consultation, debate and democratic decision-making in general;
· training in research methodology and project development, including evaluation;
· training in administration and organisation, unlike many administrators who have been promoted from professional positions; close, direct involvement with individual and family needs, and must be aware of what these are;
Once again, when it comes to "capacity building" it is necessary to make a special case for women with disabilities (WWDs). Generally women are among the disadvantaged groups but those with disabilities are even more disadvantaged. At the Entebbe Workshop they expressed the following anxieties:
· Lack of education and training;
· As a consequence they lack skills;
· They, therefore, remain unemployed.
· They stay too poor to meet even the basic living expenses like housing, food, appliances and educating their children, and therefore they live dependent lives.
· They lack awareness of their rights;
· This results in their being socially abused.
· There is also the problem of inaccessible public places.
· They are deprived of employment opportunities and health services.
· They lack confidence as they are left out of the development process.
· Even within the disability movement, their representation is often not in proportion to their numbers.
A "Top-down" Chain of Command
Source: D. Werner, Disabled Village Children
A "Bottom-up" Approach
Source: D. Werner, Disabled Village Children
The women at the Entebbe Workshop decided that they must hold awareness raising workshops for:
· the families, communities, institutions like schools, governments, and policy makers.
· fellow disabled women on rights, services available, and their role in society.
· disabled children, especially counselling and guidance to disabled girls and their parents.
Grace Mashayamombe and Alexander Phiri of Zimbabwe during a role play on seeking employment. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
The ILO runs a project in Zimbabwe called "Improved Livelihood for Disabled Women." It is funded by Germany. It is primarily a promotional programme, i.e., its main objective is to change society's perception of women with disabilities. The main problem of People With Disabilities (PWDs) is not their disability but rather society's negative attitude towards them. These negative attitudes deprive them (PWDs) of adequate education, training, employment and marriage. It generally excludes WWDs from participating in all mainstream activities. Yet these activities are very important in one's life.
Therefore the project aims at integrating women with disabilities in particular, and PWDs in general, in the main stream community activities. The programme utilizes income generating activity as a tool to integrate women with disabilities in the mainstream economic life.
Dorothy Musakanya and Euphrasia Mbewe of Zambia communicating in sign language. (Photo by Marla Feldman)
In order to be productive, women with disabilities need various types of appliances which are essential for their full participation in various activities. These are supplied under the programme. The use of appropriate appliances increases their self-confidence and self-esteem. For instance, a woman might be crawling, but if she is given a wheelchair her mobility is facilitated and she can do a lot more. It also helps to restore her self-confidence.
The Entebbe Workshop recommended that organisations of disabled persons should encourage the participation of disabled women by ensuring that they have at least 50 percent representation in decision making, designing, planning, implementation and evaluation of various programmes.
The question, however, is what strategies could be used to empower women with disabilities? The workshop recommended the following:
· Women should identify the factors or reasons why they are poor. After identifying these factors, they will at least be conscious about what to do with them. Women should participate in decision making in the household. This will empower them.
· They should choose their own leaders.
· Women should demand their rights and should form groups and clubs for lobbying and advocacy purposes.
· They should struggle to get education and to attain equality.
· Disabled women, through their governments, should be encouraged to promote equalisation of opportunities in legislation.
· Disabled women should conduct legal education programmes to achieve legal empowerment.
· Sign language development should involve deaf women.
· Disabled women should take up the initiative of joining other women to promote integration and mainstreaming.
· Men should identify and share the specialized skills they have acquired with women without dominating them.
· Laws should be enacted to protect disabled women and children. The biological fathers of the children abandon them and leave the burden to the disabled mothers.
· The United Nations system and ILO should give more consideration to supporting disabled women initiatives in their programmes.
· Often forgotten are a special group of women who bear the burden of day-to-day care of severely disabled children and adults. They need also to be supported and their IGPs provided for.
A. For Persons with Disability
· They must motivate themselves. Our inner self is our first asset.
· They must not limit themselves to purely vocational training. They must also demand education in the broader sense to enable them to undertake research and analysis.
· If they are organised as a cooperative, they must rely largely on their own efforts to build institutional structures that are democratic, transparent and fully accountable to the members.
· If they are organised as individual enterprises, they must take advantage of public and private institutions that offer management courses.
· They must fight against prejudice and discrimination when it comes to training in business management and the professions.
· They must refuse to be treated as empty bottles to be filled through the "top-down" approach; they must insist on the participatory approaches to building capacity.
· MWDs (Men with Disabilities) must ensure that WWDs are fully integrated in their programmes (and in their homes) as equal partners.
· They must not isolate themselves from the rest of civil society; they must join forces with other organs of civil society to influence policy and the socio-economic environment.
· Those PWDs who have attained success in their enterprises should encourage and help others with development efforts.
· The parents of children with disabilities should be actively involved in development enterprises.
B. For the Government
· The government must create the enabling and institutional environment to help strengthen the individual capabilities of PWDs. (Also see Ch. 4)
· It must take affirmative action to enable PWDs to have access to public institutions of higher education as well as vocational training.
· Since most PWDs work as groups or as cooperatives, it is important that the government provide adequate cooperative training to them, including extension and monitoring facilities.
· The government must formulate policies to cater for the needs of parents of children with disabilities.
C. For IGOs and NGOs working with PWDs
· They must not limit themselves to providing finance only; they must also support capacity building programmes.
· They must involve the PWDs in development projects using the participatory approach.
· (NGOs) which have had experience in working with groups and cooperatives must write up manuals based on these experiences so as to help strengthen cooperative institutional capacity.
· They could play a positive role in addressing specific concerns of women and children with disabilities and caters of people with severe disabilities.
Same Areas for Further Discussion
Why is it important for PWDs to acquire broader conceptual, analytical and research skills, as well as vocational skills?
Is it true that cooperative institutional building is more difficult than capitalist-based enterprises? If so, why, and how can cooperative structures be strengthened?
How do you ensure that women's participation in IGPs is truly empowering?
Who lights the candle that empowers the