New Entrepreneurship Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Jul 23, 2015

A new employment measure aims to help some 120 unemployed people with disabilities achieve their dreams and start up their own businesses by the end of next year.


Launched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Employment Service Agency and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Self-Employment for People with Disabilities measure will work to integrate unemployed people with disabilities into the labour market by providing them with the customized support they need to start up their own businesses.


“Every individual has a right to self-determination and a dignified life and we hope that this measure will help all people in the country achieve this,“ said Minister of Labour and Social Policy Dime Spasov.


Persons with disabilities are amongst the most marginalized and excluded populations in the world. Globally they number an estimated 650 million, or 10 per cent of the world’s population, making people with disabilities the world’s largest minority. Unemployment rates for people with disabilities run as high as 80 per cent in some countries, and those who do have jobs generally occupy low-paid, menial positions, often in segregated workplaces where compensation is often symbolic.


This situation is the result of widely-held misconceptions. Many employers incorrectly assume that disability equates to the lack of ability to perform a job, or that costly adjustments will be required to accommodate people with disabilities in the workplace.  Moreover, people with disabilities often face barriers to the education and training they need to find gainful employment. Yet, as numerous studies have shown, employing people with disabilities yields both social and economic benefits.


Launching the new measure, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Alessandro Fracassetti stated, “It’s not just the right thing to do—it also has clear economic advantages,” adding that UNDP will be working in close partnership with civil society organizations and associations of people with disabilities to design workable models for the economic inclusion of people with disabilities.

Ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy the right to work on an equal footing with all other members of the labour force is at the heart of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the country signed in 2009 and ratified in 2011. The new measure is designed to help create the conditions needed to fully satisfy the commitments of the Convention.


“This measure will help a large number of people with disabilities to get the chance to apply and open their own businesses,” said Branimir Jovanovski from the National Union of People with Physical Disabilities. “I hope many of them will seize this opportunity.”


To help ensure the success of this project, a special set of promotional materials will be created to reach out to people with disabilities, enabling people with visual, hearing and speech disabilities to access all the information they need to benefit from the Self-Employment Programme. 


“Individualized consulting, and mentoring services will be provided to individuals with disabilities and their family members throughout all phases of the project, including training, the development of business plans and help in starting up and running business activities,” explained Vlatko Popovski, the Director of the Employment Service Agency.  


“Each newly created start-up will have a chance to immediately employ two additional people to support smooth business operations and help overcome some of the barriers,” said Vice Prime Minister Vladimir Pesevski, meaning that this measure will generate 360 new jobs in the next year.


The new measure builds on the successful track record of employment-promotion programmes that have helped more than 6,700 people to create their own businesses over the past eight years. UNDP’s experience from around the world has shown that self-employment can provide an outlet for the creative and entrepreneurial skills of people with disabilities and foster better quality jobs.


“This is something completely new for us—a real historic opportunity that can bring good to many and I am sure that it will,” said Vasko Markov, President of the National Union for Deaf People.


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