CO2 0485

Q & A: Interview Josiah Macharia on business development support service for micro-entrepreneurs with disabilities

Micro and small enterprises play a significant role in creating employment and generating income for most, leading to economic growth and development. While the role they play in economies is repeatedly acknowledged, only a limited segment of micro and small enterprises are capable of exploring all their opportunities. Further, these businesses don’t cope with threats effectively without assistance.  

Micro-enterprises owned by persons with disabilities are more likely to face even more threats due to more significant barriers people with disabilities suffer. Entrepreneurs with disabilities are more likely to have limited to no formal training in running businesses and face socio-cultural issues that limit their market and capital access. They have personal attitudes that negatively impact their entrepreneurial success than persons without disabilities. As a result, persons with disability-owned micro and small enterprises stagnate in growth or, worse, fail.  

It is against this background that Light for the World is implementing the InBusiness program that is designed to empower micro-entrepreneurs with disabilities economically by building their capacity to run and grow businesses and linking them to mainstream value chains. The program employs a twin-tracked intervention approach: building micro-entrepreneurs’ capacity to run and grow their enterprise and triggering institutional reforms that facilitate conducive business environments and nurture healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems in which persons with disabilities can participate equally. 

Recently we spoke to Josiah Macharia, a Business Development Service provider who supports micro-entrepreneurs enrolled into the InBusiness program through business skills training, market assistance, business advice, mentorship, transfer of technologies and information sharing all tailormade to suit the contexts within which the micro-entrepreneurs operate in. He delved into the programs’ Business Development model, challenges faced by micro-entrepreneurs with disabilities across value chains and solutions therein.  

GLP retailers training on BDS 42
Josiah Macharia a business development training for women retailers in the the Cocacola value chain. PHOTO: Christine Ogutu/Light for the World

What is the greatest need(s) you’ve learned micro-entrepreneurs with disabilities have?  

In my experience, after interacting with our program participants, most persons with disabilities are unknowing of their disability’s rights as persons with disabilities. Due to this, they miss out on many opportunities the government accords them. Further, due to limited knowledge of their rights, most have difficulties self-advocating, leading to low self-worth and esteem. This directly or indirectly affects their performance as entrepreneurs. 

 Tell me about some of the ways you’ve addressed these issues?  

To address these significant challenges, we provide business and professional technical training to expose micro-entrepreneurs to competitive ways of doing business. We also link them to other businesses around them. We partner with other program within Light for the Worls to provide advocacy and inclusion training to both micro-entrepreneurs and Public and Private Institutions. 

What has the Business Development Service model taught you about empowering persons with disabilities in business? (Or entrepreneurship in general) 

 I have learned that many resources private and public organizations provide to persons with disabilities have not helped effectively because finances or relief assistance alone are not the best ways to empower persons with disabilities economically. Equal opportunities, disability inclusion and sensitization, are what I think would be long-term solutions for empowerment of persons with disabilities in their diversities. 

Your role involves looking for public and private institutions (PPIs) that partner with micro-entrepreneurs. How do you establish such relationships?  

We have strategies that make it very practical to interact and develop long-lasting relationships with PPIs. Engaging based on value exchange works very well. After sensitizing and training PPIs on the need to be disability Inclusive, they work with micro-entrepreneurs efficiently. Light for the World has also been an Advocate for persons with disabilities by participating in activities led by Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the umbrella body for most private companies.  

What is the most significant gap for linkages you’ve noticed by now?  

Micro enterprises have a limited capacity to satisfy the market needs of most partners we talk to or can reach out to. The challenge spans all counties we are currently implementing the program. This is why our capacity-building work is vital to our success.

The interview was first published on Business Development Services Model: An Inclusive Futures Publication

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We would love for you to join us

Scroll to Top