The Endeavour project seeks to inspire and support disabled entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses.
We are raising £5,000 through crowdfunding and we need your support to reach our target!
You can find out more and donate here, please share widely through your networks!
1. Why is the project needed?
“In Wales just 45% of working-age disabled people are currently in employment, compared to 79% of those not disabled…
This gap is larger for disabled people who have no or few qualifications, and for those with particular conditions, such as mental health conditions or multiple impairments.” [Welsh Government (2018) ‘Employability Plan’, p17, accessible at https://gov.wales/employability-plan]
One response to this employability gap is for disabled people to start their own businesses. Research carried out by Disability Wales reveals disabled people report challenges additional to those faced by non-disabled people setting up a business:
- Disabled people may embrace self-employment out of a lack of other options rather than from a passion to be a business owner
- Disabled entrepreneurs can take longer than non-disabled peers to develop business plans if they have to take time out to manage health conditions
- a lack of accessible information aimed at disabled people, especially how Access to Work can support self-employed disabled people
- a lack of well publicised disabled entrepreneur role models
- limited practical awareness of disability equality issues amongst business start-up advisors
- limited financial flexibility within the benefits system to cope with fluctuating or ad hoc work necessary to build / rebuild a client base after becoming a disabled person
- individuals off work long term may lack capital / have acquired debt, preventing access to loans and funding to buy equipment needed to start a business.
This aligns with the latest research (2019) undertaken on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), ‘Understanding Self-Employment for People with Disabilities and Health Conditions’.
A key finding of the DWP study was that some of the businesses run by disabled entrepreneurs were at the margins of financial viability, typically due to periods of pain, fatigue or poor mental health leading to fluctuating periods of work and associated income.
Nonetheless, ‘generally business owners feel that being self-employed is preferable to being entirely dependent on benefits’. This links back to a strong evidence base that appropriate work can bring health and well being benefits by meeting not only economic but also psychological and social needs.
2. Who will deliver the Endeavour project?
Endeavour is an 18-month pilot to address the needs of the employability gap. The project will be delivered by Disability Wales in association with key project partners: Business Wales and the Development Bank of Wales and will be supported by the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses.
3. What will the Endeavour project do?
The project will help disabled people decide whether self-employment suits them and will help participant set up their own businesses with the support of other disabled business people:
Six information events will be held across the region to stimulate interest in self-employment amongst disabled people. Events will showcase the experiences of disabled entrepreneurs and introduce support programmes. An information resource will be created specifically for disabled people. This will include general business support available through Business Wales and the services of the Development Bank of Wales, together with more specialised support available to people with specific impairments or conditions.
Where disabled people move from general interest in self-employment to specific ideas of how they might wish to start a business, additional support will be made available. This will come in two parts:
- Access to general business start-up support via Business Wales – business advisers will support participants on the typical journey of self-employment, on topics such as product / service definition, market research, business planning, marketing and finance. There is no cost to our project for this generally available support
- Peer mentoring – up to five one-to-one mentoring sessions with disabled people who have established their own businesses The one-to-one mentoring sessions may include one face-to-face session but the majority are anticipated to be delivered remotely by web conferencing, instant messaging or telephone, depending on the needs of the disabled people involved.
A training session on mentoring will be delivered to these peer mentors, given they may be successful business people but lack the skills to act as successful mentors initially.
Three networking events will be held to encourage the disabled participants in their start-up journeys. Disabled entrepreneurs will facilitate these networking sessions.
Topics may include different approaches to gaining new clients and managing client relationships during periods of illness or incapacity. Business Wales and Development Bank of Wales advisers undertake equalities training.
Nonetheless, the majority are unlikely to have lived-experience of impairments or long-term health conditions. Advisers will attend project events, at no cost to this project. There they will hear first-hand from disabled people the barriers they face and how some experienced disabled business people have overcome or managed similar issues.
All of this great work needs your help towards the total funding. We are crowdfunding £5,000 to add to other sources of funding.
Please help us to reach our target – you can donate here.