Cover Image
close this bookSustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities: The Process of Self-Empowerment (ADF, 1995, 117 p.)
close this folderSection II: Building economic self-reliance
close this folderChapter 7: Implementation and resource mobilisation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSustainability
View the documentResource mobilisation
View the documentRunning an enterprise
View the documentSome case studies of projects run by PWDs
View the documentAction guidelines
View the documentAppendix 1: Revolving loan scheme (RLS)
View the documentAppendix 2: The Entebbe workshop resolution con RLS


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.

Resource mobilisation

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


Own Capital

Loan 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."

Own Capital

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.

Running an enterprise

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.

Some case studies of projects run by PWDs

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.

Action guidelines

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 Appendix) realistic?

Appendix 1: Revolving loan scheme (RLS)

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.

Appendix 2: The Entebbe workshop resolution con RLS

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.