Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,710,190 articles and books

Microenterprising and People with Disabilities: Strategies for Success and Failure.

Over the past decade, economic and societal so·ci·e·tal  
Of or relating to the structure, organization, or functioning of society.

so·cie·tal·ly adv.

 trends have converged to impact the policy and practice of self-employment as a vocational rehabilitation Noun 1. vocational rehabilitation - providing training in a specific trade with the aim of gaining employment
rehabilitation - the restoration of someone to a useful place in society
 strategy. One such trend is the move from a predominately industrial economy to that of an information and service economy. This post-industrial transformation of the global economy continues to shift work from large, manufacturing facilities toward smaller service-oriented worksites. "Forty years ago, in the 1950's people who engaged in work to make or move things were still a majority in all developed countries. By 1990, they shrunk shrunk  
A past tense and a past participle of shrink.


a past tense and past participle of shrink

shrunk, shrunken shrink
 to one fifth of the work force" (Drucker, 1993, p. 40). The 1990's have seen a rise in small businesses that can "accommodate emerging consumer values such as convenience, customization, variety, quality, and reasonable cost" (Ryan, 1995, p. 9).

A second trend involves the rise of a self-help, empowerment em·pow·er  
tr.v. em·pow·ered, em·pow·er·ing, em·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See Synonyms at authorize.

 philosophy in the field of rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. . This trend signals a change in the way decision making occurs during the rehabilitation process. Consumers increasingly make informed decisions concerning their rehabilitation (Kosciulek, 1999). The shift within rehabilitation and transition service delivery models gives consumers increased influence in decision making and greater control over planning their own futures (Thomas, 1999).

A third trend impacting the rehabilitation of people with disabilities is the successful application of the microenterprise model. Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning, and Dissemination dissemination Medtalk The spread of a pernicious process–eg, CA, acute infection Oncology Metastasis, see there  (FIELD) defines a microenterprise as:
   a sole proprietorship, partnership or family business that has fewer than
   five employees, does not generally have access to the commercial banking
   sector and can initially utilize a loan of under $25,000. This definition
   is somewhat broad as most of the microenterprises that programs work with
   are in fact much smaller, generally with under three employees. Many
   microbusinesses, perhaps the majority, are operated by the owner alone,
   which has led to the frequent use of the term self-employment (Langer,
   Orwick, & Kays, 1999, p. xii).

This model evolved as an anti-poverty strategy in developing economies such as some areas of Asia and Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. . In the past few years, the Years, The

the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]

See : Time
 microenterprise strategy has been applied to displaced displaced

see displacement.
 workers (Sonfield & Barbato, 1999), low-income U.S. communities (Himes & Servon, 1998), and people with disabilities. In 1998, Americans for Community Co-operation (ACCION ACCION Americans for Community Co-operation in Other Nations ) released the results of a comprehensive U.S. study of individuals who engaged in microenterprise and who were offered a micro-loan. The study revealed that take-home income increased for those who received a loan and started a microenterprise.

The convergence of these three trends promises to create opportunity for people with disabilities who choose to develop a microenterprise (which is often self-employment). Microenterprise may enable many of the 49 million Americans with disabilities Americans with disabilities comprise one of the largest minority groups in the United States. According to the Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief [1], approximately 20% of Americans have one or more diagnosed psycho-physical disability. , for whom the unemployment rate is 50% (World Institute on Disability, 1999), to compete in the marketplace. The authors of this paper seek to explore the barriers to successful application of microenterprise in vocational rehabilitation. Barriers identified are (a) those cited in the literature and (b) those noted by people with disabilities who call the Job Accommodation Network to gain information about microenterprise.

Two major barriers to the enterprising en·ter·pris·ing  
Showing initiative and willingness to undertake new projects: The enterprising children opened a lemonade stand.
 opportunity of people with disabilities emerge from these sources. One is the "low" readiness levels of people with disabilities and community-based organizations to engage in entrepreneurial enterprises. The other barrier is unrealistic expectation of traditional business resources toward people with disabilities. Metts and Metts (1999) noted a report of the business community's "disrespectful dis·re·spect·ful  
Having or exhibiting a lack of respect; rude and discourteous.

 attitude" toward entrepreneurs with disabilities. Creating and managing channels of engagement among multiple agency partners and the person with disability can help to bridge the gap between a low readiness level to engage in microenterprise and an unrealistic expectation by traditional small-business resources (Metts & Metts, 1999). Engagement in training and technical assistance is a key that can unlock the potential of talented, committed entrepreneurs. Engagement through contact with these talented, committed persons by rehabilitation counselors, trainers, and technical-assistance resources in the business community is another key. In combination, they can open windows of microenterprise opportunity.

The Low-Readiness Barrier:

The Funding Cart before the Planning Horse

Inexperience Inexperience
See also Innocence, Naïveté.

Bowes, Major Edward

(1874–1946) originator and master of ceremonies of the Amateur Hour on radio. [Am.
 with business start-up, management, and important sources of technical assistance contributes to the barrier to microenterprise of low readiness. For example, people who want to start a business often explore sources for funding before considering necessary prerequisites. Obtaining capital and loan guarantees must be preceded by comprehensive planning "Comprehensive Plan" is a term used by land use planners to describe a set of goals and policies developed by a municipality to accommodate future growth. Typically the comprehensive plan will look at estimated growth within a specific time period, for example, 20 years. . A good first step is a self-assessment which assists in understanding and articulating one's own knowledge, qualifications, penchants, and responsibilities. The individual certainly has a general idea of the goods or services that are to be the foundation of the business (e.g., taxidermist, satellite dish satellite dish
A dish antenna used to receive and transmit signals relayed by satellite.

satellite dish

A parabolic antenna used to receive signals relayed by satellite.
 sales and installation, baker, rug weaver
For other meanings, see Weaver (disambiguation).

The Weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches.

These are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills, most of which breed in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer species in tropical
, pool maintenance, pet sitter Noun 1. pet sitter - someone left in charge of pets while their owners are away from home
critter sitter

custodian, keeper, steward - one having charge of buildings or grounds or animals
, locksmith, TV and VCR VCR: see videocassette recorder.
 in full videocassette recorder

Electromechanical device that records, stores on a videotape cassette, and plays back on a TV set recorded images and sound.
 repair), but careful self-assessment is a recommended prerequisite pre·req·ui·site  
Required or necessary as a prior condition: Competence is prerequisite to promotion.

. Market research is a second step to success. Realistic expectations of the market may discourage or encourage continued planning. Gaining reliable information about who will buy what and when can be a daunting daunt  
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.

[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin
 task, but the effort expended ex·pend  
tr.v. ex·pend·ed, ex·pend·ing, ex·pends
1. To lay out; spend: expending tax revenues on government operations. See Synonyms at spend.

 to gain accurate market information is well worth the investment. A written business plan based on sound research (e.g., tax information, copyright law, licensing requirements, funding sources, personal finance planning) is a third prerequisite.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (2000) recommends that potential business owners create a business plan. The form of this plan has been created to solicit personal and financial information from those who are considering starting a business. Answers to questions about the business, product or service, location, marketing plan, and financial needs inform the individual planner as well as the individual's rehabilitation counselor, funding contact, and family. Thus, the value of a well-thought-through business plan extends far beyond the search for investment capital. It is an essential planning tool and can be used to gauge progress after start-up (Herzog, 1998). The care and time expended on a business plan have been shown to be related to business success and failure rates (Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, 1998). In articulating the business concept, technical assistance from knowledgeable people is almost always helpful and, in many cases, may be necessary when the planner begins to conduct formal or informal market research and to write a reasonably detailed business plan. Continuing support is a necessity in reducing the low-readiness barrier.

In describing the need for continuing support and assistance, Goldmark (1996) cited business development services such as training, technology transfer, marketing assistance, business advice, mentoring, and information. These services are aimed at helping the microenterprisers to improve and sustain the performance of their business. Delivery of these services has had positive, sustaining effects on microenterprise in developing countries.

The Traditional-Expectation Barrier: Redefining Success

The traditional-expectation barrier is a result of conflicting models of "success." The conflict is the viewpoint of growth-oriented businesses versus the viewpoint of self-supporting microenterprise. Any emerging model forces redefinition Noun 1. redefinition - the act of giving a new definition; "words like `conservative' require periodic redefinition"; "she provided a redefinition of his duties"
definition - a concise explanation of the meaning of a word or phrase or symbol
 of traditional concepts. A new concept of success includes microenterprise ownership that does not necessarily have a "growth" orientation (Sonfield & Barbato, 1999). Business success for microenterprise may mean increase in self-sufficiency and reduction of dependence.

Confusion about definitions of (a) microenierprise (including self-employment), (b) very small business, and (c) small business contributes to the traditional-expectation barrier. Small business and microenterprise differ considerably. Based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's definition, a "microenterprise" is a commercial enterprise with five or fewer employees, one or more of whom owns the business. Thus, microenterprise is often synonymous with synonymous with
adjective equivalent to, the same as, identical to, similar to, identified with, equal to, tantamount to, interchangeable with, one and the same as
 self-employment, as noted earlier in the FIELD definition. Clark and Kays (1995) indicated that a microenterprise is generally a sole proprietorship A form of business in which one person owns all the assets of the business, in contrast to a partnership or a corporation.

A person who does business for himself is engaged in the operation of a sole proprietorship.
 that has fewer than five employees and that can benefit from a start-up loan of under $15,000. They indicated that the average loan size was $5,640 and that loans are generally secured by non-traditional collateral, flexible collateral requirements, or group guarantees. The microenterprise, therefore, is distinguished from the traditional small business (Himes & Servon, 1998).

The Small Business Administration (SBA SBA
Small Business Administration

Noun 1. SBA - an independent agency of the United States government that protects the interests of small businesses and ensures that they receive a fair share of government
) defines a "very small business" as having (a) no more than 15 employees and (b) annual receipts that do not exceed $1 million. Based on the Federal tax incentive definition, a "small business" is a business whose gross receipts the total of the receipts, before they are diminished by any deduction, as for expenses; - distinguished from net profits.
- Bouvier.

See under Gross,

a. os>

See also: Gross Receipt
 did not exceed $1 million for the preceding taxable year Taxable year

The 12-month period an individual uses to report income for income tax purposes. For most individuals, their tax year is the calendar year.
 or that employed not more than 30 full-time employees during the preceding year. The SBA, however, has definitions of small business that vary depending on the Standard Industry Classification code and group (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2000). Such variation can be confusing con·fuse  
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.

. For example, cereal cereal
 or grain

Any grass yielding starchy seeds suitable for food. The most commonly cultivated cereals are wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, corn, and sorghum. As human food, cereals are usually marketed in raw grain form or as ingredients of food products.
 breakfast foods manufacturing, gypsum gypsum (jĭp`səm), mineral composed of calcium sulfate (calcium, sulfur, and oxygen) with two molecules of water, CaSO4·2H2O. It is the most common sulfate mineral, occurring in many places in a variety of forms.  products manufacturing, metal cans manufacturing, and railroad railroad or railway, form of transportation most commonly consisting of steel rails, called tracks, on which freight cars, passenger cars, and other rolling stock are drawn by one locomotive or more.  equipment manufacturing have a criterion of 1,000 employees for a "small business." Natural gas distribution, coal mining, and water transportation have a criterion of 500 employees. Agricultural services, airports, and radio broadcasting The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
 stations have a criterion of $5 million. For chicken egg production, the criterion is $9 million, but for beef cattle feedlots, it is $1.5 million. Such breadth of definition indicates an economic sector in transition. Thus, this lack of completely coherent concept is likely to confuse con·fuse  
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.

 people seeking to begin a small business or a microenterprise and may contribute to the misunderstanding that occurs between the person with disability and traditional small-business resources.

A traditional measure of the success of a business is income. In a report to the Office of Microenterprise Development (USAID USAID United States Agency for International Development
USAID Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (Spanish) 
), Inserra (1996) suggested that usable USable is a special idea contest to transfer US American ideas into practice in Germany. USable is initiated by the German Körber-Stiftung (foundation Körber). It is doted with 150,000 Euro and awarded every two years.  indexes of financial information might involve (a) gathering qualitative data on the existence of change, direction of change, or amount of change in microenterprise income, (b) using existing financial records, and (c) seeking figures for revenues separately from costs. Gaining accurate income data about microenterprise, based on respondent In Equity practice, the party who answers a bill or other proceeding in equity. The party against whom an appeal or motion, an application for a court order, is instituted and who is required to answer in order to protect his or her interests.  recall and report, however, is subject to considerable inaccuracy in·ac·cu·ra·cy  
n. pl. in·ac·cu·ra·cies
1. The quality or condition of being inaccurate.

2. An instance of being inaccurate; an error.
. Moreover, income may not be the most telling measure of success. From a rehabilitation perspective, measures of success need to be tied to the reasons for exploring the microenterprise option. Those goals are specific to the individual and may include (a) increasing control over work load and scheduling, (b) resolving mobility or accommodation concerns, (c) increasing income and self-sufficiency, and (d) engaging in meaningful work. Personal benefits also may include greater participation and inclusion in the community, enhanced status, and increased self-confidence (Rehabilitation Services Administration, 1998). Perhaps the most telling criterion measure is survival of the microenterprise.

Historically, state vocational rehabilitation agencies have had a mixed view of self-employment as a viable vocational goal for people with disabilities (Ravesloot & Seekins, 1996). The reasons for this mixed view are diverse. Probably, the reasons revolve around Verb 1. revolve around - center upon; "Her entire attention centered on her children"; "Our day revolved around our work"
center, center on, concentrate on, focus on, revolve about
 the agencies' intention to protect the best interests of their clients. One belief is that business development is a precarious enterprise both for people with functional limitations and for those in the general population. Placement into the traditional workforce, therefore, is seen to be a more secure goal. The belief persists that failure rates in the population of small business enterprises tend to be high. First, that perception may be exaggerated (Rural Research Institute, 1999), and second, the goals of the microenterprise may not be the same as the goals of "small business."

Despite the many vocational rehabilitation professionals who are not integrating self-employment into their vocational planning, clearly there are people with disabilities who may benefit enormously from having this vocational option. There are people with disabilities who have the desires, skills, enthusiasm, creativity, and willingness to make such an endeavor work for them.

Lessons from the Field

From 1992 to mid 1999, the Job Accommodation Network (a project of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities) received over 250,000 calls from employers, rehabilitation professionals, and people with disabilities who were seeking workplace accommodation information. There were more than 1,000 cases which concerned microenterprise (Job Accommodation Network, 1999).

Of these callers, 408 were seeking specific information concerning self-employment. These individuals were self-employed at the time of the call or were unemployed and seeking to start their own business. For these 408 individuals, an array of disabling dis·a·ble  
tr.v. dis·a·bled, dis·a·bling, dis·a·bles
1. To deprive of capability or effectiveness, especially to impair the physical abilities of.

2. Law To render legally disqualified.
 conditions was represented such as back injury, multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the protective myelin sheaths that surround the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord (a process called demyelination), resulting in damaged areas , learning disability, stroke, cerebral palsy cerebral palsy (sərē`brəl pôl`zē), disability caused by brain damage before or during birth or in the first years, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscular control and coordination. , and mental illness. Percentages for categories of disability of callers who reported their disabling condition are presented in Table 1. These individuals reported a variety of functional limitations that they considered to be barriers to employment. Categories of their functional limitations are presented in Table 2. In these 408 accommodation cases, the most frequent reason for calling the Job Accommo-dation Network was to obtain specific product information to accommodate the worker. As displayed in Table 3, callers also requested general information packets on self-employment, funding a microenterprise, and legal issues related to disability and self-employment. As an example of these calls, a caller who was self-employed as a carpenter and who had a back impairment Impairment

1. A reduction in a company's stated capital.

2. The total capital that is less than the par value of the company's capital stock.

1. This is usually reduced because of poorly estimated losses or gains.

 wanted information concerning adapted tools. He was sent information on panel movers, biocurve hammers, handle adapters, and manipulators. Another caller was seeking to become self-employed as a paralegal paralegal n. a non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiring some knowledge of the law and procedures, employed by a law office or who works free-lance as an independent for various lawyers.  and had fibromyalgia fibromyalgia

Chronic syndrome that is characterized by musculoskeletal pain, often at multiple sites. The cause is unknown. A significant number of persons with fibromyalgia also have mental disorders, especially depression.
 and other orthopedic orthopedic /or·tho·pe·dic/ (-pe´dik) pertaining to the correction of deformities of the musculoskeletal system; pertaining to orthopedics.  limitations. After discussing specific tasks she would need to perform, she was provided information and suggestions for voice-activated software, alternative mice, filing accommodations, and office ergonomics ergonomics, the engineering science concerned with the physical and psychological relationship between machines and the people who use them. The ergonomicist takes an empirical approach to the study of human-machine interactions. . Many of these callers had specific ideas for the type of business they would like to start. Computer and technology-related microenterprises were reported as self-employment goals more often than any other class of jobs (15%). In addition, callers had ideas for businesses where they would be self-employed as a leather-harness braider, day-care provider, auto-glass installer, seamstress, plasterer, fish-hatchery operator, court reporter, photo-journalist, peanut-stand vendor, salad-dressing bottler, silk screener, vineyard-tour guide, wood carver, math tutor, and a variety of other occupations.
Table 1

Categories of Disability of Callers
Seeking Information Concerning Self-Employment

Type of Disability            Percentage

Back Condition                   12.6%
Accident/Injury                  11.8%
Quadriplegia                      7.7%
Multiple Sclerosis                6.9%
Attn. Deficit Disorder/LD         5.7%
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome            4.9%
Arthritis                         4.1%
Stroke                            4.1%
Amputation                        3.7%
Cerebral Palsy                    3.7%
Paraplegia                        3.3%
Head Injury                       2.4%
Mental Illness                    2.4%
Cumulative Trauma                 2.4%
Diabetes                          2.0%
Fibromyalgia                      2.0%
Eye Disease                       2.0%
Congenital                        1.6%
Heart Condition                   1.6%
Cancer                            1.2%
Epilepsy                          1.2%
Polio                             1.2%
Chemical Hypersensitivity         1.2%
Knee/Leg Impairment               0.8%
Other                             9.5%

Total                           100.0%
Table 2

Categories of Functional Limitations of
Callers Seeking Information Concerning

Functional Limitation      Percentage

Handling/Fingering              18.3%
Low Vision                       6.1%
Sitting                          6.1%
Lifting                          5.3%
Grasping                         4.9%
Mobility                         4.9%
Standing                         4.9%
No Vision                        4.2%
Use of One Hand                  3.4%
General/Nonspecific              3.0%
Overall Body Weakness            3.0%
Reduced Concentration            3.0%
Back                             2.3%
Walking                          2.3%
Lower Extremity                  1.9%
Reading                          1.9%
Upper Extremity                  1.9%
Learning                         1.5%
Balancing                        1.1%
Climbing                         1.1%
Environmental Illness            1.1%
Hard of Hearing                  1.1%
Mathematical Calculation         1.1%
Operating Foot Control           1.1%
Speech                           1.1%
Carrying                         0.8%
Memory Loss                      0.8%
Neck/Trunk                       0.8%
Pushing/Pulling                  0.8%
Reaching                         0.8%
Respiratory Distress             0.8%
Squatting/Bending                0.8%
Stress Intolerance               0.8%
Vision/One Eye                   0.8%
Other                            6.2%

Total                          100.0%
Table 3

Type of Information Requested by Callers to the Job Accommodation

Type of Information Requested Percentage

Accommodation (Equipment/Products)               42%
Self-Employment Info Packets                     33%
Funding for Business                             10%
Legal                                             9%
Accommodation (Funding)                           3%
Other                                             3%

Total                                           100%

There were also 487 cases during 1998-99 in which the caller reported that he or she was employed at the time of the call but was considering microenterprise as an option. These individuals requested the packet of general information on self-employment. Of the callers who received this general information, 103 contacted the Job Accommodation Network again to discuss self-employment in more detail.

In response to this level of interest and need, the President's Committee established (November, 1999) the Small Business and Self-Employment Service (SBSES SBSES Small Business and Self-Employment Service (United States Department of Labor) ) as a project within the Job Accommodation Network. The SBSES provides information, counseling, and referrals about self-employment and small business ownership opportunities for people with disabilities. Self-employment options for people with disabilities are only viable if the support system exists to facilitate these efforts. Based on the experience of callers to the SBSES, adequate structures are not widely in place at this time to support the needs of those who wish to become self-employed. One major hurdle callers face is finding a counselor who can work with them from the initial stages of microenterprise development into the life of their business. Some callers initially are unable to articulate how their job skills could be translated into a viable business. Others have well-developed ideas about the business they would like to pursue but have been discouraged by various agencies from pursuing these goals (Small Business and Self-Employment Service, 1999).

Callers often state that they are "worn out" from their experiences with public vocational rehabilitation, health care, and the social security system. There is need for both vocational and general counseling, as it is impossible to separate the other "life" issues from the "vocational" ones. People are looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 employment options, but they also need a place where their other (related) life issues can be addressed. It seems plausible that the public vocational rehabilitation program Noun 1. vocational rehabilitation program - a program of rehabilitation through job training with an eye to gainful employment
rehabilitation program - a program for restoring someone to good health
 could fill much of this gap. The following description represents the plight of one such caller as reported by a consultant from the SBSES.
   A woman called the SBSES project inquiring about jobs we knew of that would
   allow her to work from home. She also stated that she would be interested
   in starting a home-based business, but that she had few assets, and her
   credit had suffered due to medical interruptions in her previous jobs. Her
   current strategy when she applies for a position is to disclose to the
   potential employer, up front, that she will most likely need time off for
   surgeries during her time there. She found that her state's vocational
   rehabilitation program was less than helpful. She had attempted to discuss
   options to work from home or start her own business, but they refused to
   entertain her ideas. She then contacted her local Small Business
   Development Center (SBDC), and they set up an appointment for her to meet
   with a Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) representative. She
   described this experience as very degrading. The SCORE representative had
   no exposure to working or interacting with someone with disability. He had
   been the CEO of a large corporation and had no experience in working with
   "small" or "microenterprise" initiatives. Her goal in contacting the SBDC
   was to begin this process. When she had her initial meeting with the SCORE
   representative, one of his first statements to her was, "Let me see your
   business plan." From the start, the person with disability and the SCORE
   representative were at very different places in the process. The SCORE
   representative went on to "scold" her for not being more prepared and
   organized, not having a business plan, and "wasting" his time. She left
   this meeting feeling upset, demeaned, and hopeless.

There is recognition that microenterprise and self-employment may be under-used in the public vocational rehabilitation service program. The title of the 19th Mary Switzer Memorial Seminar was "The Entrepreneur with Disability: Self-employment as a Vocational Goal" (Hansen & Perlman, 1995). This seminar, hosted by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, considered creation of a coherent national strategy for supporting self-employment for Americans with disabilities. One assertion was that non-profit vocational rehabilitation service providers are in the best position to play a leading role in the development of self-employment programs. Implications for action included (a) helping rehabilitation counselors foster positive attitudes and dispel myths about self-employment, (b) determining best ways for rehabilitation service providers to collaborate with programs devoted to establishing small business, microenterprise, and self-employment, and (c) conducting research on short and long-term outcomes of vocational rehabilitation for self-employment and microenterprise.

Prescriptions for Success and Failure

Training, technical consultation, and counseling appear to be crucial components of a prescription for success for potential microenterprisers. Examples of effective services in these areas include a program for veterans with "serious disabilities," which includes (a) training in social skills for dealing with the public, (b) training and technical consultation on coping with business startup details, and (c) counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental disorder that follows an occurrence of extreme psychological stress, such as that encountered in war or resulting from violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or serious accident.  or other issues. The services of this U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs is a term of the business that deals with the relation between a government and its veteran communities, usually administered by the designated government agency.  (VA) program in Hawaii have resulted in start-up of such businesses as a small print shop, a franchised sandwich shop, an eco-tour service, a kayak kayak (kī`ăk), Eskimo canoe, originally made of sealskin stretched over a framework of whalebone or driftwood. It is completely covered except for the opening in which the paddler sits.  business, a theater cafe, dry-land farming, and poi-food manufacture and sale (Hurley Hurley has become the English version of at least three distinct original Irish names: the Ó hUirthile, part of the Dál gCais tribal group, based in Clare and North Tipperary; the Ó Muirthile, based around Kilbritain in west Cork; and the OhIarlatha, from the district of , 1999). As a second example, the Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation invests $300 of case-service funds for each consumer in the microenterprise group. Group members then may apply to the group for a loan. In addition to obtaining loans, members build credit histories, exchange business ideas and contacts, develop improved business skills, and have access to technical assistance (Stoddard, Hanson, & Temkin, 1999).

Other agencies also have found ways to facilitate entrepreneurial success through training, technical assistance, and ongoing counseling. Participants can gain assistance and guidance in writing business plans and gaining other business skills at the International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities (World Institute on Disability, 1999). The Exceptional Entrepreneurs of Louisiana CODE, OF LOUISIANA. In 1822, Peter Derbigny, Edward Livingston, and Moreau Lislet, were selected by the legislature to revise and amend the civil code, and to add to it such laws still in force as were not included therein.  program provides business-development workshops, technical assistance for disability-related accommodations, and an intensive follow-up program. Businesspeople Overcoming Limitations from Disabilities provides training in business skills, business-plan development, finding and creating loan funds, and mentorship (BOLD, 1999). A state of Washington program has provided displaced workers a continuum of self-employment development and support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services  from inception, through start-up, and well into the business operation (Sonfield & Barbato, 1999).

The New Castle, Pennsylvania New Castle is a city in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; in 1910, the total population was 36,280; in 1920, 44,938; and in 1940, 47,638. The population was 26,309 at the 2000 census.  Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Pittsburgh Blind Association also have developed a program that focuses on the needs of clients who wish to consider self-employment as a vocational outcome (Brown & Faris, 1999). The program covers a four-county region in Pennsylvania that incorporates both rural and urban communities and is guided by six principles Six Principles can refer to:
  • Six principles of Chinese painting established by Xie He (Chinese artist) in the 6th century.
  • General Six-Principle Baptists, the oldest Baptist denomination in the Americas, dating the the 1600s.
. Principle 1 is the belief that self-employment should never be considered as a last resort for those clients who cannot be placed elsewhere. Principle 2 is that most of those clients are prepared to discuss their interest when they come through the door. This vocational program Noun 1. vocational program - a program of vocational education
educational program - a program for providing education
 acknowledges and facilitates those interests through the entire tenure of that client with the rehabilitation agency. This program does not do a formal assessment to determine which clients' profiles make them candidates for this track in the program. Instead, any interested client is directed to the self-employment specialist for further counseling. A team consisting of the district administrator, the business expert, the self-employment specialist, the vocational counselor, and the aspiring as·pire  
intr.v. as·pired, as·pir·ing, as·pires
1. To have a great ambition or ultimate goal; desire strongly: aspired to stardom.

 entrepreneur works toward a self-employment goal. Principle 3 is to prepare the client for the rigors of the microenterprise option. Through an intensive process of exploration, consultation, and skill development, the program prepares clients for a successful outcome. It is not uncommon that some clients self-select out of the microenterprise option and enter another track as they become more aware of what is involved in their preparation for and operation of a business. Principle 4 is that the vocational rehabilitation program makes a smart choice when it invests money in these clients through an internal micro-loan program instead of granted monies. Brown and Faris (1999) contend that there is a different relationship to the process when monies are lent as opposed to granted to clients. They report that clients rarely default on these loans. When financial and other crises arise, the rehabilitation team is there for the client, throughout the process in a long-term commitment. Principle 5 is that family support is necessary. The program requires that all members of the family (e.g., spouse, partner) pledge or demonstrate encouragement of the client and the business. If one member of the family "team" is not supportive of this endeavor, it is likely to be unsuccessful. Principle 6 is that clients become a part of the business community because they are a part of that economic community's success. These microenterprisers, in real terms, are contributing to economic health and vitality of the region the business serves. The rehabilitation team applies these six principles to facilitate microenterprise ownership and increased independence (Brown & Faris, 1999).

In contrast, prescriptions for failure are constructed when (a) the vision is unfocussed un·fo·cused also un·fo·cussed  
1. Not brought into focus: an unfocused lens.

 (as reflected in a self-assessment), (b) the commitment is tentative (as manifested by the rehabilitation team, the family, or the client), (c) technical assistance is insufficient in quantity or quality (as evidenced by a gap in planning or ongoing support), (d) market assessment is faulty fault·y  
adj. fault·i·er, fault·i·est
1. Containing a fault or defect; imperfect or defective.

2. Obsolete Deserving of blame; guilty.
 (as shown by inaccurate projections), (e) training and preparation are neglected (as demonstrated by an underprepared client), and (f) continuing teamwork (product, software, tool) Teamwork - A SASD tool from Sterling Software, formerly CADRE Technologies, which supports the Shlaer/Mellor Object-Oriented method and the Yourdon-DeMarco, Hatley-Pirbhai, Constantine and Buhr notations.  is missing (as found in short-term commitment). Lack of a cohesive cohesive,
n the capability to cohere or stick together to form a mass.
 service strategy facilitates the prescription for failure. Recent developments in research and implementation are putting in place infrastructure for reducing failure and increasing success for microentrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship presents an opportunity for people with disabilities. With a healthy collaboration between formal and informal support groups from the local community, people with disabilities can be successful in self-employment and microenterprise. The trend in the economy from a large industrial base to a focus on a more diverse information and service economy is causing redefinition of success. The opportunity for creation of microenterprise businesses increases proportionally with empowerment philosophy and consumer choice. Microenterprise, although misunderstood mis·un·der·stood  
Past tense and past participle of misunderstand.

1. Incorrectly understood or interpreted.

 and poorly defined in the past, is emerging as a viable vocational rehabilitation strategy.

Author Notes

This study was supported, in part, by the International Center for Disability Information and the Job Accommodation Network, West Virginia University West Virginia University, mainly at Morgantown; coeducational; land-grant and state supported; est. and opened 1867 as an agricultural college, renamed 1868. . The Job Accommodation Network is a service of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Special thanks are given to Randall Brown and Dave Faris for their assistance. Appreciation is expressed to Lori Britton for manuscript preparation.


BOLD. (1999). Business people overcoming limitations from disabilities. [Online]. Available: http// [1999, July 1].

Brown, R., & Faris, D. (1999). Interview with district administrator. New Castle, PA: Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Clark, P., & Kays, A.J. (1995). Enabling entrepreneurship: Microenterprise development in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Washington, DC: Aspen Institute The Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1950 dedicated to "fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues. .

Drucker, P.F. (1993). Post-capitalist society. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, NY: HarperCollins.

Goldmark, L. (1996). Business development services: A framework for analysis. Unpublished Manuscript, No. MIC-101, Inter-American Development Bank Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

international organization founded in 1959 by 20 governments in North and South America to finance economic and social development in the Western Hemisphere.
, Washington, DC.

Hansen, C.E., & Perlman, L.G. (1995). Self-employment as a rehabilitation option. Journal of Rehabilitation, 61, 66-68.

Herzog, R. (1998). Unlikely entrepreneurs: A complete guide to business start-ups for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Traverse City Traverse City, city (1990 pop. 15,155), seat of Grand Traverse co., N Mich., at the head of the West Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, in a resort and cherry-growing region; inc. 1881. , MI: North Peak Publishing.

Himes, C., & Servon, L.J. (1998). Measuring client success: An evaluation of ACCION's impact on microenterprising in the United States. U.S. Division of ACCION International ACCION International is a non-profit organization founded in 1961 whose mission it is to provide small loans and technical assistance to those around the world who are under-serviced by local banks. . The U.S. Issues Series, Document No. 2.

Hurley, C.S. (1999). Hawaii's disabled vets get start-up help for varied, colorful micro enterprises. [Online]. Available: [1999, July 1].

Inserra, A. (1996). A review of approaches for measurement of microenterprise and household income. Washington, DC: Submitted by Management Systems International to the Office of Microenterprise Development, Economic Growth Center, Global Bureau, USAID.

Institute on Rehabilitation Issues. (1998). People with disabilities developing self-employment and small business opportunities. University Arkansas, Hot Springs, AR: IRI Iri (ē`rē`), former city, North Jeolla (Cholla) prov., SW South Korea. An agricultural center and transportation hub, it was absorbed into Iksan.  Prim Study Group.

Job Accommodation Network. (1999). Microenterprise data report. Unpublished manuscript, Author.

Kosciulek, J.F. (1999). Consumer direction in disability policy formulation and rehabilitation service delivery. Journal of Rehabilitation, 65 (2), 4-10.

Langer, J.A., Orwick, J.A., & Kays, A.J. (1999). 1999 directory of U.S. microenterprise programs. Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning, and Dissemination (FIELD), The Aspen Institute.

Metts, R.L., & Metts, N. (1999). Self-employment strategies for people with disabilities in the United States. [Online]. Available: articles/seU.S.html [1999, March 3].

Ravesloot, C., & Seekins, T. (1996). Vocational rehabilitation counselors' attitudes toward self-employment outcomes. Rehabilitation Counseling rehabilitation counseling,
n counseling started in the United States in 1920 to assist individuals disabled by industrial accidents; originally included physical, psychologic, and occupational training; expanded over the next 70 years and laid the
 Bulletin, 39, 189-205.

Rehabilitation Services Administration. (1998). Self-employment. Washington, DC: Information Memorandum Information memorandum

A document detailing the project and project financing, usually in connection with a syndication.
 RSA-IM98-16, Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Rural Research Institute. (1999). Rural facts: Improving policy and practice. [Online]. Available: http://ruralinstitute.umt .edu/rtcrural/self-employment/factsheets/self-employment .htm [1999, October 1].

Ryan, C.P. (1995). Work isn't what it used to be: Implications, recommendations, and strategies for vocational rehabilitation. Journal of Rehabilitation, 61 (4), 8-15.

Small Business and Self-Employment Service. (1999). Call summary. Unpublished manuscript, Author.

Sonfield, M.C., & Barbato, R.J. (1999). Credit and equity support as components of self-employment development programs. [Online] Available: sonfield-barbato.html [1999, September 22].

Stoddard, S., Hanson, S., & Temkin, T. (1999). An evaluation of choice demonstration projects. Report to Rehabilitation Services Administration, Contract HR95034001. Berkeley, CA: InfoUse.

Thomas, S. (1999). Vocational evaluation in the 21st century: Diversification Diversification

A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. It is designed to minimize the impact of any one security on overall portfolio performance.

Diversification is possibly the greatest way to reduce the risk.
 and independence. Journal of Rehabilitation, 65 (1), 10-16.

U.S. Small Business Administration. (2000). Guide to SBA's definitions of a small business. [Online]. Available: http://www [2000, March 30].

World Institute on Disability (1999). Innovative strategies to increase employment of women with disabilities. [Online]. Available: [1999, July 1].
Richard T. Walls
Denetta L. Dowler
Kimberly Cordingly
Louis E. Orslene
John D. Greer

West Virginia University

Richard T. Walls, Ph.D., International Center for Disability Information, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506-6122. Email:
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Greer, John D.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2001
Previous Article:Recognizing and Understanding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Implications for Rehabilitation Counselors.
Next Article:A Survey of Rehabilitation Professionals as Alternative Provider Contractors with Social Security: Problems and Solutions.

Related Articles
Determining vocational levels of people with disabilities in Japan: A statistical prediction approach.
RSA and supported employment.
Integrating qualified workers with disabilities into the workforce.
Vocational rehabilitation outcome measures: the probability of employment and the duration of periods of employment.
The role of the entrepreneur in job placement.
Linking workers with severe disabilities to social supports in the workplace: strategies for addressing barriers.
Constricted employment opportunities encountered by people with severe disabilities.
What a Difference a Race Makes: Reasons for Ineligibility Within The Vocational Rehabilitation System.
Postsecondary Education and Employment of Adults with Disabilities.
Vocational rehabilitation counselor perceptions of the General Educational Development test. (Counselor Perceptions).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters