Self-employment provides the main opportunity for people with disabilities in low income countries to earn a livelihood. Self-employment activities may be individual or group, and part-time or full-time in both rural and urban areas. The activities often involve small-scale production, providing a service or trading, in both the formal and the informal economy.

Inclusive self-employment programmes have a key role to play in assisting people with disabilities to overcome economic challenges and contribute economically to their families and communities. This is supported by article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Through inclusive self-employment opportunities, women and men with disabilities have an opportunity to start or expand their own income-generating activities and small businesses.

This keylist features resources that support inclusive self-employment initiatives. We welcome your feedback: please send comments or suggested additions to

Selected resources

Count us in!|How to make sure that women with disabilities can participate effectively in mainstream women’s entrepreneurship development activities

GILBERT, Maureen

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These guidelines aim to facilitate the inclusion of women with disabilities in general entrepreneurship training and services in mainstream Women’s Entrepreneurship Development activities. They contain practical advice, training programmes, tools and materials for promoting entrepreneurship and improving livelihoods for women with disabilities. They would be useful for service providers interested in women entrepreneurs with disabilities

Doing business in Addis Ababa : case studies of women entrepreneurs with disabilities in Ethiopia


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This is a collection of informative case studies about disabled women who are engaged in small enterprise in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were compiled in preparation for the ILO Technical Cooperation Project, 'Developing Entrepreneurship among Women with Disabilities'. The case studies are grouped in chapters according to the women's impairments or disabilities, with a final chapter about women who are mothers of children with learning disabilities. This document is useful for people interested in women entrepreneurs and women with disabilities in Ethiopia

Doing business in Tigray region : case studies of women entrepreneurs with disabilities in Ethiopia


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This is an informative collection of case studies highlighting the experiences of war-disabled women who are engaged in small enterprise in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia. They were compiled in preparation for the ILO Technical Cooperation Project, 'Developing Entrepreneurship among Women with Disabilities'. This document is useful for people interested in women entrepreneurs and women disabilities in Ethiopia

Economic empowerment of disabled people : lessons from northern Uganda about developing the market for enterprise-based skills development services

ALBU, Mike
January 2005

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This paper presents the results of a three-year action-research project which aimed to improve access to enterprise-based training services and credit for disabled people in northern Uganda. There is a brief description about the project, a description of the results achieved and highlights of the general conclusions and lessons learned. This is a useful resource for practitioners interested in voacational training and small enterprise development in Uganda

Famos check guide and methods : a gender-based service quality check for supporting small enterprises


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The 'Female And Male Operated Small enterprises' (FAMOS) check is an ILO tool for completing a self-check of one's own organisation to identify opportunities for improvement in the way in which an organization reaches out to and serves both women and men. The check is usually completed by an internal team with support from external facilitators. The guide aims to provide a new perspective and a systematic assessment of targeting and serving men and women entrepreneurs, their needs and their potentialities. This document is useful for business support agencies, financial institutions and government agencies

Good practices for the economic inclusion of people with disabilities in developing countries : funding mechanisms for self-employment

Handicap International
August 2006

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This report aims to highlight good practices, strategies, tools and operational methods that guarantee the sustainability of projects that support access to funding mechanisms and the self-employment of people with disabilities. More specifically, the study focuses on the use of microcredit enterprises and grants for the start-up and expansion of microenterprises. Developed in partnership with a diverse range of organisations of/for people with disabilities and microfinance providers, the report highlights the significant exclusion of people with diabilities from mainstream microfinance institutions and subsequently presents two solutions: firstly to develop schemes that promote the inclusion of people with disabilites; secondly to develop financial services by organisations of/for people with disabilities themselves. This report would be of relevance to anybody working in the fields of international development, disability or microfinance

Inclusive employment : how to develop projects which promote the employment of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations


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"This policy paper applies the mandate and values of Handicap International to inclusive employment activities. It sets out the benchmarks for Handicap International’s actions, choices and approaches and seeks to ensure consistent practice between the organisation’s programmes while taking into account the different contexts in which they operate. It is intended as a guide for teams working in this sector of activity. It defines the themes, explains how these activities fit into the organisation’s mandate, identifies the target populations and defines modalities of intervention (standard expected outcomes, standard activities) as well as monitoring and evaluation indicators"

Synergies through linkages : who benefits from linking finance and business development services?


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This paper examines how finance and business development services (BDS) can be linked. It demonstrates how synergies can be created for the three main groups: micro and small enterprises, financial institutions, and BDS providers. It highlights that the linkage must be context dependent with case studies provided. This would be useful for practitioners, development agencies and governments interested in linking finance and BDS

The complementary use of loans and grants


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This paper discusses the complementary use of loans and grants. Various aspects of microfinanace services are highlighted, in addition to the benefits of grants. It would be useful to people interested in finance schemes in developing countries