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Before entering into a new venture, even if it is to be a small-scale enterprise, a person needs to have sufficient knowledge of the work involved in order to make the business successful. In several cases, training is needed in order to learn more about the technical aspects and procedures that will ensure success. This training is often not readily available to persons with disabilities. Several vocational training centres will not accept a person with a disability because they assume that such a person will "slow down" the learning process of other participants. Financing the necessary training is therefore another issue that cannot be ignored. How much does it cost? Who will finance it?

Governments and non-governmental organizations around the world are developing special programmes for persons with disabilities. Because such persons did not always have the opportunity to go to school, or could study for only a few years, many disabled persons can barely read or write, or are totally illiterate. Training programmes must be especially developed to take this into account and use hands-on training techniques to teach new skills to persons with disabilities.

Creating the opportunity for disabled persons to become self-reliant

Trainers must realize their responsibility towards trainees with disabilities because they will play a major role in the future of the trainees; their work will offer disabled persons a chance for a better life with self-reliance, food security and an improved quality of life.

The main objective is to enable rural persons with disabilities to become economically self-reliant through income generation as small-scale entrepreneurs. The trainer must keep this in mind at all times during the training. All trainees participate in the training by choice and because they believe that the training course will give them the tools necessary for improving their livelihood. It is the responsibility of the trainer to convince trainees that they can do anything and everything they set their minds to.

Considerations for training of rural disabled persons

Training must take into consideration the activities of trainees within their community. In Asia, rice sowing and harvesting are the busiest times of the year for farmers and, therefore, it is very difficult to organize training during these periods.

Trainees may also have received different levels of education and, therefore, they must be encouraged to work as a team, helping one another. Both trainees and trainers must learn to work together towards a common goal, which is to succeed in starting a small-scale enterprise. If the trainees help each other, they can all learn from one another and will feel happier during the training.

Trainees must be well prepared for training in farming and rural activities. They must understand that it is not possible to close the enterprise during the weekend. Rural poor people often work seven days a week since some activities cannot be stopped. For example, animals need to be fed and crops need to be watered every day of the week. Trainers must arrange their schedule according to rural daily realities.

The use of a small-scale entrepreneur's experience can be very helpful and highly encouraging for trainees with disabilities. Trainers should include specialists in enterprise development, disability matters, and agriculture and rural affairs. The training can be provided either by one person with all these specializations or by a strategically selected training team.

Trainers may work on a rotating schedule. Communication between trainers, trainees, consultants and all parties involved is necessary for an effective outcome.

Motivation and capacity-building

Trainers will have to prepare trainees for basic learning and for unexpected events that will certainly occur during and following the training.

Four main learning steps

The objectives and priorities in training rural people with disabilities for enterprise development are:

1. To improve daily living skills
2. To impart technical capabilities and capacities
3. To develop entrepreneurial skills
4. To establish a network and strategic partnerships

1. To improve daily living skills

Trainers should focus on the daily realities of the trainees' community life by direct discussion with the trainees and offering appropriate advice:

Trainees must be made aware of their personal limitations and potentials; they must never allow other people to determine what they can and cannot do. Training sessions should create the atmosphere of a large family reunion in order to encourage exchange, sharing, discussion, compassion and emotional strengthening. Trainees must learn to listen to the experiences of others in order to learn how to overcome some of the problems and be successful in improving their quality of life.

Finally, enterprise development will offer trainees the chance to become self-reliant once they are convinced that they are capable of doing, even if they do it differently. Surmounting new challenges is never easy but always brings a feeling of achievement and success.

Case study: Teenager with Down's syndrome earns income and confidence from chicken, duck breeding

Fifteen-year-old Darum Bunkum, a resident of Lao Khwan district in Thailand's Kanchanaburi province, suffers from Down's syndrome. The right side of his body was severely weakened and he could study only till grade four. Eight years after he began rehabilitation training, he has recovered much of his strength and became economically self-reliant and confident about the future.

When he was seven, he joined the rehabilitation project run by the Foundation for the Welfare of the Mentally Retarded of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen. The community-based rehabilitation project (CBR) arranged physiotherapy for physically disabled rural children by giving them small cows. Taking the cows out to graze enables the disabled children to exercise their limbs. It helped make Darum's arms and legs stronger.

Noting that Darum really enjoyed taking care of the animals, the Foundation gave him funds to buy and raise chickens and Bavary ducks. Workers from the Foundation first trained his parents how to raise the chickens and ducks and manage the income. The Foundation actively followed up on his progress every three months. He also learnt how to inject the birds with vaccine and to prepare their feed according to prescribed formula. Darum could earn enough by selling chicken and duck eggs, ducklings and young chickens to expand his small farm.

He now has 50 chickens, 10 pairs of Bavary ducks and five meat cows and earns between 70 to 100 baht per day. He now earns his own income from his enterprise for the first time in his life. A portion of the income is used for expanding his enterprise, another part helps meet necessary family expenses and the remainder is put in Darum's bank account. Darum learnt about money management from his parents and is now proud to manage his bank account by himself He is confident he can become physically stronger and also develop his intellectual capabilities to be successful in life. He wants to make chicken and duck breeding his permanent livelihood.

2. To impart technical capabilities and capacities

Trainers must concentrate on the skills required for the successful accomplishment of all tasks associated with the chosen small-scale enterprise that is to be established in a rural area. These skills and tasks will vary from one business to another.

For persons with physical disabilities, certain techniques may be needed to replace the "conventional way" of doing things. For example, using the feet or mouth instead of hands has proven very efficient. Certain tools and devices can also be adapted to a person's physical disability.

Because training has to be conducted over a limited period of time, the quality of trainers becomes extremely important. Several programmes developed by government and non-governmental organizations use specialized trainers. Nevertheless, trainees prefer trainers who are successful entrepreneurs themselves and can explain from experience the "do's" and "don'ts" of establishing and running a small-scale enterprise.

3. To develop entrepreneurial skills

All aspects of a sustainable rural enterprise must be reviewed and well understood. For details see Part III.

4. To establish a network and strategic partnerships

Regular communication with trainers and all parties involved will provide trainees with timely information about existing training programmes. Trainees should fully exploit opportunities for collaboration with various agencies and organizations. This will also facilitate their acceptance as full members of their community.

The following are examples of organizations and institutions that can be contacted for future collaboration or partnership.

1. Agriculture extension offices

2. Local disability training centres

3. Technical colleges

4. Universities

5. Private companies

6. Local community small enterprises

7. Organizations for persons with disabilities (local, national and international levels)

8. Non-government organizations (local, national and international levels)

9. Central government agencies (e.g. Ministry of Invalids, Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health)

10. Local government agencies

11. UN agencies such as FAO, ILO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNIDO, WHO.

12. Others

Finally, because of the importance of marketing in any business venture, strategic partners and associations may support trainees in advising on market opportunities and become potential partners and clients.

Selecting trainees

The selection of trainees should be based on well-defined criteria. Although many persons with disabilities can perform all required tasks, their motivation is crucial for success. Careful selection of the trainees is, therefore, vital for the successful replication of the enterprise and its future sustainability.

Persons with disabilities are capable of accomplishing most of the tasks involved in enterprise development. Nevertheless, certain activities may need to be adapted and strategies developed to compensate for the disability. Moreover, two persons with the same disability do not necessarily have the same capabilities and, consequently, it becomes necessary to understand their abilities while developing the strategy. Every person is different and therefore should be allowed to test his or her capabilities and limitations. Trainees must be allowed to develop their own personal way of accomplishing the tasks required in the enterprise. Trainers must be able to give advice, support and direction.

Trainee selection procedure

1. Identification of the candidates: In most countries, the names and addresses of persons with disabilities are registered with a government office responsible for their welfare, such as the Ministry of Invalids, the Ministry of Social Welfare or the Ministry of Health. Provincial or municipal governments may also have information on persons with disabilities. Radio or television announcements can be used to invite candidates for training on enterprise development. Information on training should be provided to disabled persons located in the remotest rural areas.

2. Pre-selection: The disabled person's age and type of disability should be verified. Ideally, the age should be between 20 and 35 years. Nevertheless, it has been demonstrated in some cases that the selection of younger or older candidates was fully justified and highly rewarding for both trainees and trainers with the success of the trainee's new enterprise. Persons with multiple disabilities may have difficulties following a training course because of limited mobility and their capability for active participation must be verified. Candidates with basic literacy will also, generally speaking, find the training course more enjoyable and easier to understand; they are also more likely to succeed and, therefore, may be given priority.

3. Diversity of location: Care must be taken to avoid market saturation. A diversity of locations for training in the same type of enterprise is necessary. Moreover, if trainees are selected from different locations, they will have the opportunity to replicate their enterprise and become trainers in their community.

4. Each candidate visited at home: Trainers must meet each candidate at his or her home. This will allow trainers to verify if the candidate has family and community support, as well as the financial and other material resources for establishing the new enterprise.

5. Verification of commitment: Trainers must check the will and commitment of the trainees and their families to attend the training course. This is especially true when the trainee has to leave home to attend the training which may last for several months.

6. Verification of motivation: Trainers must make sure that the candidates are highly motivated to learn about enterprise development and new skills.

7. Verification of availability: Trainers must make sure that the candidate is capable, committed and ready to leave home to learn. In case of a person with multiple disabilities, a family member may have to accompany the trainee.

8. Final selection: Trainers must sit together and evaluate each candidate, decide whether or not a candidate should be selected, and justify their decision. This will ensure impartial and objective selection. Trainers must always keep in mind that the training is not only for enterprise development but should also serve as a re-education of the disabled towards their full integration as active and self-reliant participants in society.

Note: Although all selection criteria have been followed, it is still possible that some trainees return home before the end of training due to unexpected events in their family. However, meeting the selection criteria increases the chances of completion of training courses. A questionnaire for initial review of the candidates is given in Annex 1.

Size of the training group

The number of trainees will depend on the number of trainers. A ratio of five to one or six to one has been shown to be successful. With only five or six interns, it is possible for a trainer to better understand the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the trainees. The trainer should always keep in mind that the training programme is not only for enterprise development but also for self-motivation and confidence-building to ensure that the disabled person-turned-entrepreneur can be an active and self-reliant participant in community development.

Gender issues

Training in enterprise development offers a good opportunity for women with disabilities. Small-scale enterprise development allows both women and men with disabilities to earn a living close to home. A small-scale enterprise can be set up near the house allowing the woman to take care of home and children while generating supplementary income. It can also offer single women, single parents or widows an opportunity to establish a sustainable business that will enable them to become financially self-sufficient. Experience has shown that women can learn just as well as men, the skills needed for successful enterprise development. Attention must be given to the safety and security of women when training in mixed groups.

Case study: Visually impaired village women demonstrate how the disabled can be successful in enterprise development and become community leaders

Visually impaired, 49-year-old Nuan Sarachan belongs to a family of low-income rice farmers in Roi-et province in Thailand's poorest north-eastern region. She has demonstrated how rehabilitation training and sound business sense can enable persons with disabilities to become economically independent.

She was trained in awareness-building and mobility by a rehabilitation course for the visually impaired in 1991. A year later, after spending some time with others like her to learn from their experience, Ms Nuan decided to make joss sticks, which was the main economic activity in her village. She started her business with a loan of 5 000 baht from the Roi-et Education and Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, but had barely managed to repay the money when she had to give up because of the high market competition.

After making a living for some time by packing joss sticks and earning 20 baht per 100 packs, she borrowed 4 000 baht to start a pig farm and buy a small rice mill in 1993. Making her first profit, she followed a neighbour's advice to start fish breeding with technical support provided by the village agriculture officer. Continuing success enabled her to diversify further into cultivation of straw mushrooms, which she had learnt at the Rehabilitation Center. Having ensured a regular income for herself and her family from her enterprises, she went back to the Roi-et Center in 1997 to learn about cloth and water hyacinth weaving, mushroom farming and Braille reading and writing. On returning home a year later, she also began selling her products to the Roi-et Center.

Seeking to improve her work, she asked her neighbour to teach her how to make big joss sticks as it was difficult for her to make the small ones because of her disability. It was while learning this that she met Noopien Sitiwan, who was about the same age as her and also visually impaired.

Both women became close friends and after two weeks of training, decided to start making big joss sticks. They also sought advice from the government extension worker so they could sell directly in the market instead of through a middleman. They now make about 200 to 300 pieces every day and sell at a higher price to shops in the province, assuring themselves a regular monthly income ranging from 3 000 to 5 000 baht.

No longer dependent on their families, the two women also train the visually impaired and persons with other disabilities at the Roi-et Education and Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. They have taught joss stick making and cloth weaving to more than 100 persons with disabilities. The two are active members of the committee for the rehabilitation of small children in the village and take care of the children at the Center one day every week. They are constantly trying to arrange funding or donations to support the Center.

Issues and considerations to be addressed prior to training

1. To ensure that trainees do not abandon the course before its completion, it should be ascertained if they have left their home in the past, whether for re-education, training or work. This will show how they cope with living away from home.

2. Trainees who have never left their family should be allowed to train closer to home rather than be sent to a distant training centre.

3. Trainees who have never undergone re-education are often incapable of taking care of themselves. This must always be considered when planning a training programme especially during budget preparation because offering re-education with skills training will take more time. Ideally, the trainees should have undergone re-education. Trainees with multiple disabilities may need continuous assistance.

4. Some trainees may also have been over-protected by their families and not used to accomplishing certain tasks on their own. As a result, it may be quite difficult for them to overcome certain physical challenges and trying to do so may cause serious emotional confusion. Trainees must initially understand that enterprise development may require specific tasks that can be difficult. They must have decided to attend the training because they truly want to learn new skills and not because family members have decided that it would be a good idea for the disabled person to learn new skills.

5. Many persons above 60 years of age have never had the opportunity to learn new skills or to undergo professional re-education or formal education. Learning enterprise development skills may be difficult for them and this is why it is recommended that trainees be between 20 and 35 years of age. Homogeneity within the group is also important. When trainees are both men and women, care must be taken that all women are not very young and men older. Different types of disabilities can also create different problems. For example, the needs of the visually impaired are different from those of the hearing impaired and the physically disabled.

6. Some trainees with multiple disabilities or with specific physical or mental disabilities may be incapable of systematic learning. For example, mentally-disabled persons may need additional attention. Although they may be capable of accomplishing specific tasks, especially repetitive actions, they may not necessarily be capable of analysis and decision-making. Other members of the group must understand the mental capabilities of their peers and can help during training by giving additional explanations and training.

7. Safety and security must be ensured for women attending mixed training courses. Appropriate facilities must be available for women trainees with disabilities to ensure their safety and privacy.

8. Following up on the trainee's progress after the establishment of his or her enterprise is crucial for its continuation. Like any other new entrepreneur, the disabled person will face problems, expected or not, usually shortly after set-up or during installation. A resource person, ideally the trainer, should be available for follow-up action and troubleshooting. This will protect trainees-turned- entrepreneurs from being overwhelmed with problems, which can often be solved easily. Failure must be avoided to ensure that the new entrepreneur becomes more self-confident and, therefore, self-reliant.

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