Welcome everyone to the ADA audio conference series. The ADA audio conference series is brought to you by Great Lakes ADA center in collaboration with the ADA National Network. This is a series offered on a month lowly basis -- monthly basis, third Tuesday of each month, covering different topics. We have happy to have you with us today and kicking off our new year, new calendar year, this is the first session in that calendar year. We are pleased to bring to you today the topic of understanding disability and entrepreneurship.Hopefully at the conclusion of the webinar you will have a better understanding of the issues of entrepreneurship and what is happening in the area of disability, and what this actually means for people with disabilities. We are pleased to have with us today, a couple of presenters who have been very immersed in this issue and have been publishing and writing on this issue and are seen as leaders in this area, across the country, first with us today will be taking the lead is Kate Caldwell, postdoctoral researcher with the department of disability and human development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Second, Sarah Parker-Harris, co-PI on this project and she is associate professor within the department of disability and human development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Maija Renko, co-PI, associate professor in the department of managerial studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.All their bios are available on the website, so I won't take time to read those at this time. But if you have not already reviewed them, we encourage you to go to the website and review that information about them to the breadth of their expertise and experience. We are pleased to have them join us today. Be thinking about your questions. Submit your questions throughout the session. We will take the questions at the end and feed them to our presenters so you can get responses to them. At this time I'm going to turn over the microphone to Kate Caldwell. You can take it from here.
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Robin. We want to thank Robin Jones and the Great Lakes ADA center for being wonderful partners in this project. We are excited to talk with you about disability and entrepreneurship today, because as you probably know, there is a lot of misinformation and lack of information out there about what exactly entrepreneurship for people with disabilities looks like and how it fits into current policy initiatives. That is what a lot of our research has focused around and what we will be covering today.
I'm going to begin by advancing to slide 2.I'm probably preaching to a choir, but as you likely know, there is a huge problem with disability employment and underemployment. The employment rate for people with disabilities nationally as well as in Illinois is much lower than the employment rate for the general population. That is due to a lot of barriers and policy and structural barriers as well as the discrimination in hiring, salary, advancement and promotion that people with disabilities encounter in employment. That ends up leading to poverty, and people with disabilities, a lot of times because of the barriers in policy and the structural barriers, they end up getting stuck in what is called a poverty trap, where they are not able to make enough money to get out of poverty.There have been a lot of shifts in policy and in practices in the disability community to try and make it so that more people with disabilities who want to work and who can work are actually able to find jobs. I'm currently on slide number 11, I apologize for saying I was on 2. I didn't recognize that they had changed.
Now why is this important for entrepreneurship?I'm advancing to the next slide, which is number 13.Part of the reason why people are interested in entrepreneurship is because of the problem with unemployment and underemployment for people with disabilities, they want to create a job so that they can do what they really love.
For a lot of people with disabilities, they find themselves in jobs where they are not exactly happy or where they don't feel they are finding, they are making enough money to live a quality of life that they are looking for. So they think about starting a business out of flexible employment strategy where they can pursue their passion, or where they can make the kind of money they need for the quality of life they want. In other words, it's seen as a way to get out of poverty, as a strategy to get out of poverty. This isn't uncommon with what we see in other communities. For instance, entrepreneurship has been used as a way to help other disadvantaged communities like minorities and immigrants and women get out of poverty and become financially self-sufficient. It makes a lot of sense that people with disabilities would use entrepreneurship in the same way.
It's also gained a lot of interest among policymakers because it marks the shift in policy away from more traditional approaches to employment, and opens up a whole new area of what we can sort of do to advance the employment potential of people with disabilities. It's also been gaining a lot of interest amongst service providers and community organizations, who are looking for more cost effective ways to provide employment services in the communities that they are serving, especially if they are living in a community where they are having budgetary difficulties, and they are having difficulties finding ways to find the employment services they know they need to provide to their communities. They are thinking that entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship may be a way to help supplement the cost of these services.
Then also, it's gained a lot of interest as a customized employment option, because it's basically customizing not just a job, but an entire business around the interests of one individual.E it's beengaining interest among people with disabilities and their families, but one thing we found in our research, one reason people pursue entrepreneurship, think of it in terms of push and pull motivation.Push motivation means that someone is being pushed towards one type of employment, because of a lack of other options. It's basically being done out of necessity. Whereas, pull motivation is when someone is being pulled towards a type of employment, because of an interest or a passion in that area.
What we have found among the entrepreneurs with disabilities that we are working with is it's never just pull. And it's never just push. It is always both. It's always because it's something they really want to do, and it's also something that they need to do. So it's both necessity based and opportunity based.
I'm advancing to slide number 14. We want to start by talking about what exactly isentrepreneurship, because there is a lot of, one thing that researchers found is that self-employment entrepreneurship and microenterprise are all used interchangeably, in the literature. But they don't actually mean the same thing. One of the great things about our project team is that we bring together people from disability studies and entrepreneurship studies, so that when we are actually talking about entrepreneurship for people with disabilities, we mean real entrepreneurship.
Because otherwise, we are kind of promising the benefits of entrepreneurship without actually creating the programs and policies necessary to make that happen. So that is one thing that we have been working a lot on. So self-employment really refers to a customized employment strategy that is meant to employ an individual through the creation of a business with the goal of achieving financial self-sufficiency. That is financial self-sufficiency -- that is a big word or -- for that one individual, helping that one individual create a job in a business that is going to help make this financially self-sufficient.Entrepreneurship, however, is the creation of a business that is intended to be both profit oriented and growth oriented. It wants to make a profit and in order to make a profit, it has to be a business that grows really.
That means that it's not just intended to employ that one individual. It is also intended to employ others. It's customized employment strategy for that individual with the grow of financial self-sufficiency but it's going to create jobs that will then employ others also. That is where the key difference between self-employment and entrepreneurship really lies, because not only are you creating one job but you now have the potential to create multiple jobs. When you consider that one of the largest barriers to this employment for people with disabilities is hiring discrimination, now we have got individuals with disabilities who are starting businesses and they are in the position of making the hiring decisions. They will be more willing to hire other employees with disabilities.You are not just creating one job by supporting a entrepreneur with a disability. You are creating several jobs. It's not just a employment strategy.It's actually an antipoverty strategy, because the scale of it is different. It is not just operating on one individual to another individual. It is actually creating that exponential growth. That is why using entrepreneurship as an antipoverty strategy in other communities has worked so well, is because it's recognizing that that individual is going to hire other individuals within that community. That is the key difference.
You probably heard this term, social entrepreneurship thrown around a lot but there hasn't been a lot of clear information on what exactly social entrepreneurship is and how it's different from what we will call commercial entrepreneurship.
Social entrepreneurship is creation of a business that has not only this mission of generating profit, and growth, but also it has a social mission as well as to a profit generating mission.
That social mission is central to the business itself. A lot of social entrepreneurs we know from research start businesses because of personal experience with disadvantaged or unmet need in their communities. So it makes sense that people with disabilities who want to create a business are going to come up with their business idea in response to the unmet need or problems that they see in their communities. We see a lot of entrepreneurs with disabilities who want to become social entrepreneurs. They end up having a goal both of financial profit and the social profit through trying to meet this problem in their community.
One thing that happens a lot also is that we see community organizations who are working in this area that want to start social enterprise programs, but are not owned and run necessarily by the people with disabilities. But rather, are started to employ those individuals with disabilities. That is not really what we focus on in our research. We are focusing primarily on businesses that are owned and run by people with disabilities. So that is what we are going to be talking about today.
It's also important to mention that entrepreneurship is one possible employment strategy, that can be considered among others. Not everybody is going to want to be a entrepreneur, and not everybody that wants to be a entrepreneur should necessarily become an entrepreneur. But that you will find that with every employment strategy, it's just this process of going through and seeing what makes the most sense for that individual. So anybody who does want to become a entrepreneur, what is key is they should have equal access to the opportunity and information and resources to make that happen, if it's something that they want to do.
Advancing to slide number 15, you will see we have a table that basically summarizes what we just discussed in the previous slide. It shows the difference between self-employment, commercial entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, when you are looking at the purpose of those employment strategies as well as what is called the denomination of the returns. So basically what is expected to come out of these employment strategies.The purpose of self-employment is business creation, customized employment, and financial self-sufficiency. The denomination of the return for self-employment is the monetary profit for that individual. For commercial entrepreneurship, the purpose is business creation and job creation, as well as customized employment and financial self-sufficiency. That is not just for the individual, but financial self-sufficiency for the business. The denomination of the return for commercial entrepreneurship is monetary profit, innovation and then growth. This innovation aspect is important for entrepreneurship, because it's really necessary for the survival of the business.If you are doing something that people have already done, then there is nothing really new about it and there is not necessarily a need for it.
One of the things that we do a lot in the training that I'll be discussing coming up is what exactly makes a business idea good and what makes it innovative. For social entrepreneurship the purpose is that business creation and job creation, as well as customized employment and financial self-sufficiency, but centrally, centra to entrepreneurship is the social mission and the denomination of the returns for social entrepreneurship is going to be monetary profit, innovation, growth, and social profit. So basically a social enterprise, identifies a problem or a need in the community, and then creates a business that is going to try and ameliorate that problem, make that problem better.
I'm advancing to the next slide which is number 15. Our research began in 2010 working on a project called participation through innovation. I'm going to give a overview about what we did there, because we wanted to understand how people with disabilities recognize business opportunities, the incentives and disincentives to starting up a business and being successful in starting a business, and what the current resources, supports and gaps were.Basically, we wanted to understand how people with disabilities were participating in entrepreneurship and what the barriers and facilitators were to their starting a business. We did this by doing literature and policy review on disability and entrepreneurship, and that is published and you can find the name of that on the final slide. We also did a community resource assessment of services, supports and resources in the community, looking at what was available out there and what the gaps were.We also published our community resource guide on line and there is a link in the last slide as well.We did a quantitative study of a secondary data set called the panel study of entrepreneurial dynamics II, otherwise known as Psed. It is a very large panel study, longitudinal information on entrepreneurial dynamics, so everything you can ever want to know related to entrepreneurship. What we did was noticed that there was a subset of this group that identified as having a disability. It wasn't the best marker of disability because it was a weird question, it asked you to identify whether you had a disability that impeded your work in any way. But we took that information, and decided to look at what factors influenced their entrepreneurial activity, and how that, whether there was anything distinct about entrepreneurs with disabilities.
Our results from that are published and you can find the title of the article on the last slide.Then we also did a qualitative study where we did interviews with disability and business stakeholders in the community, people who provided disability services, and people in the business community who provided business services, and we also did focus groups with social entrepreneurs with disabilities themselves, to hear from their perspective what their experience had been.
We did dyadic interviews with social entrepreneurs with intellectual disabilities to learn about their experiences from their perspective as well. Dyadic interviews is a methodology that was developed specifically to do interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities, which focuses on the person with intellectual disability as the central participant in the research but also collects information secondary information from their key support person to better understand the context within which they are working, so you can understand their perspective as a entrepreneur but also the support system around them.
For example, when we did dyadic entrepreneurs, interviews with social entrepreneurs with intellectual disabilities, oftentimes, the key part to that is allowing them to identify who their support person is, and oftentimes that can be another person with a disability, for instance, if they have a business partner or it can be a parent or a staff person. It turns out to be really interesting who the entrepreneur with the disability really feels is key in supporting their entrepreneurship. Sometimes it comes as a surprise to the individual who thought they would be the support person. I remember we had one interview we did, where the mother who had been contacted through recruitment expected to be the support person, and was very excited about participating in the research. It turns out that the individual we interviewed really thought that his father understood him as a businessperson, and so we ended up speaking with his father instead of his mother.It turned out to be a really interesting interview.Another thing we learned through doing these focus groups is that normally when you do research, you want to protect everyone's information and keep it anonymous and confidential. However, when you are working with entrepreneurs, networking is a really important element of that. So it has to be the only time I've been in a focus group where the participants started creating a mailing list amongst themselves to share information, so that they could continue talking outside of the focus group setting.That is really, that really made an impact on us in terms of recognizing that they need more of a forum to connect with each other, to make the networking connections, share information and share resources, because they wanted, it was something they needed, but they just didn't have a way to do that.
So it's a position that we have fallen into, but that has been really fruitful. I'm going to advance to the next slide which is 16 where we are going to talk about some of the key barriers to disability entrepreneurship that we found in our research.
One of the things that we identified through our literature review and policy analysis is that there were a lot of barriers listed in the literature, in the research that has been published on entrepreneurship and disability. But it was all over the place. When you tried to make a list of the barriers to entrepreneurs with disabilities, it was paragraphs long. So what we did was analyzed and thematically analyzed the barriers into these 7 key barriers that entrepreneurs with disabilities encounter.
The first is having a lack of centrally reported data. Basically, we have difficulty telling how many people with disabilities are interested in becoming entrepreneurs and how many are actively engaged in that process, because we are not collecting the statistics. What we are collecting is case closure and vocational rehabilitation for people who are interested in self-employment but that is really just entry into starting a business. It is not telling us anything about how their business is being developed, whether it's growing, if they are employing somebody else, how much profit they might be making. We have this very limited amount of data that we are actually getting from the vocational rehabilitation system.
Similarly, the small business development system which is sort of the business side of things, they aren't really collecting data on disability, because they don't necessarily see how it's important to the services that they are providing, because small business development centers don't necessarily see the need to provide specific services to consumers with disabilities. So we really need to have a centrally reported data system to, so that we know how many entrepreneurs with disabilities there are, and also what their progress is, in terms of starting their business, hiring other people, and actually generating a profit to the point of becoming financially self-sufficient.
The second barrier is financial and economic barriers. Basically, when people with disabilities go to a bank, let's say, to try and get a loan, they run into a lot of barriers, a lot of times because they may not have a work history or may not have a credit history, especially if they have been on Social Security benefits, or they have a significant asset limitations or savings disincentives that make it difficult for them to actually create that seed money to start their business with. A lot of people, entrepreneurs with disabilities that we have been working with, they actually choose businesses that have sort of this low overhead, so that they don't necessarily have to put a lot of seed funding into it to start their business. So that if their business fails, it is not actually going to cost them a lot of money. But what that ends up doing is it ends up limiting the success for their business and the potential for growth of their business. So that ends up making these businesses that entrepreneurs with disabilities are starting very distinct from what you would see in other populations. On this slide, we included a couple of quotes from some of our participants, and I'm going the read one in particular that that speaks to this topic.
The individual says, I walk into a traditional lender and they see I'm making around $13,000 per year in disability Social Security benefits.Securing a loan is difficult unless there are programs that help people with disabilities launch business entities.
That really ends up becoming a barrier for individuals with disabilities. There are also attitudinal barriers that entrepreneurs with disabilities encounter. For example, not being seen as capable to own and run a business. You find this for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities a lot, is because a lot of folks don't think that they necessarily understand what a profit is or what money is, or they aren't going to be able to manage their finances. One of the things that my dissertation research showed through doing dyadic interviewing mentioned earlier, social entrepreneurs with intellectual disabilities have a understanding of what money is, and it may not be the textbook understanding but they know that making a profit with their business is going to enable them to continue doing what they want to do. It is going to enable them to keep doing this kind kind of employment and let them achieve these life goals that they set for themselves. They have this idea in their head of what profit means. It just may be different from what profit means to the rest of us.
What is interesting here is if you think about it from the perspective of business, no CEO really starts a business by themselves. They have supports. A lot of them are going to need help with the finances. I know I'm not the best at finance.Whenever I do my taxes I get help from an account ability because I need that assistance -- accountant. With entrepreneurs with disabilities, it really takes thinking creatively about what these supports are and what they are going to look like and coming up with a support strategy for those individuals.
So that is kind of, it leads to the next barrier, which is what is called the traditional expectations barrier. This is basically the idea that people with disabilities need to be somehow employed in more traditional settings, whereas, or that you are expecting a traditional, traditional kinds of outcomes from that employment. And with entrepreneurship, what this barrier ends up playing out as is, you have got a more flexible work arrangement, that allows you to make different kinds of accommodations that individual is going to need, but you need to recognize that the flip side of that means that the outcomes, the employment outcomes from this employment strategy means they are not going to be the same as waged employment or salaried employment, because you are not necessarily going to have the number of hours that that individual works isn't necessarily going to match up, because a lot of these individuals may work several jobs and working on their business is just one aspect of that.
Or they may not have a salary per se, or cut themselves a paycheck from their profits, so you need to understand what their profits mean to the self-sufficiency of the business, not necessarily the individual. One of the things that we have been working on is what exactly these employment outcomes look like for entrepreneurs with disabilities, and how those can be used by service providers and policymakers and in program development, so that we know what, when entrepreneurs with disabilities, we know what success is going to look like for those individuals, because right now, we are trying to use traditional metrics to understand something that is not really fitting into it. So entrepreneurs with disabilities can get lost in that process. Another aspect of that is really understanding risk and what risk means in this environment. A lot of service providers and family members especially are worried about the risk of an individual starting a business, and one of the things that we found from doing focus groups and interviews with social entrepreneurs themselves is that they are really afraid of possibly losing their benefits. It's important to better understand what risk means in a context of entrepreneurship, and what it lends to also collect the statistics that let us understand what the risk actually is, because right now we are thinking about it as an abstract topic, where we don't actually have the numbers to understand what it looks like.Because I can tell from you the data we actually have based on a study that was conducted in 2000, that UCP, which is the United Cerebral Palsy choice access project that was done in 2000, shows that when entrepreneurship is being provided, similar to supported employment, the retention rate is the same as other supported employment programs, which makes a lot of sense, because it's actually being provided in a similar way.
So, the current retention rate for supported employment is 68.5 percent. Well, if that holds true for entrepreneurs with disabilities, then 68.5 percent is actually really good for individuals who are starting a business in the first year, because a lot of times you will hear folks quote that 50 percent of businesses fail within the first year, new businesses do.
If we can actually have, if by providingentrepreneurship through supported employment that means that 18.5 percent more people with disabilities are likely to actually retain their businesses in the first year, that is a significant increase.
We need to think about how we are thinking about risk. Then there is also the barrier, low readiness barrier, which is what it sounds like, that a lot of entrepreneurs with disabilities aren't ready to start a business because they haven't had sufficient access to the information, education or resources to make it a viable option. So that education, training and technical assistance, also business development resources, so for example there is something called a small business development center network, that is basically, they are otherwise known as BBCs and they exist across the country and their purpose is to provide free business development services to anyone, and because they receive federal and state funding they are required to by the ADA, which is wonderful for this particular office, sorry, webinar, because however what we found is that when entrepreneurs with disabilities go to SBBCs to get business development services, a lot of times those SBDCs aren't accessible or they cannot provide materials in accessible formats because disability just isn't something they are aware of, or something they are trained to handle. A lot of our work has been working with these SBDCs as well.
Then there is also systemic barriers. These can be programmatic barriers, barriers in public services and assistance, and also technological barriers that make it difficult for people with disabilities to start a business.
The last key barrier is social support barriers. This is a huge one, because if someone wants to start a business, like I said before, no CEO with or without a disability can do it without support network. Entrepreneurs with disabilities, what they are really looking for in order to make this happen is they want to network with other entrepreneurs with disabilities as well as entrepreneurs without disabilities, to learn what's worked for them and also what hasn't worked for them. They need this mentorship component, and also, basically just having a system of natural supports and formal supports that they can draw on, in order to put their ideas into action.
I've got another quote from one of our participants that is up on the slide, that I'd like to read. This individual said, "I didn't have any mentors with disabilities. It would definitely help because it's a different ball game, having a disability and running a business. People without disabilities don't have to consider what I do additionally, such as paying for personal assistants and that kind of thing." For example, if there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs with disabilities out there, who would be able to suggest strategies like using personal assistants services, as a business expense, or being able to use certain programs for work related equipment and things like that.
I'm going to move to the next slide which is number 17. On this slide, I want to talk about our current program which is the Chicagoland entrepreneurship education for people with disabilities program, or project, otherwise known asCEED, with a C, this was a two-year project that began in January of 2015 and that we are concluding right now, funded by the Coleman foundation. That is what Coleman foundation, not the Coleman institute, and the Coleman foundation is interesting because they have done developmental disability programs in the past and done entrepreneurship education programs in the past. And we were like, hey, we can help you bridge those two areas. That is what we have been focusing on.
The goal of this was to bridge entrepreneurship and disability, to develop and enhance skills with service providers, build collaboration and prepare entrepreneurs.
Because one of the things that you find when we did our initial research was that it wasn't that service providers from disability owned business didn't want to work with entrepreneurs with disabilities. Not at all. Quite the contrary. It is because it was outside of their core competencies. Business service providers didn't understand how to work with people with disabilities necessarily. Disability service providers didn't understand how to start a business. Nor did they know that they could use each other as a resource to help them do that. What our CEED training did is that we helped bridge these two disciplines to get disability community agency providers to begin working with small business development providers and vice versa.
Also we helped, we started training entrepreneurs with disabilities to understand what resources and under were available to them, and help them try to start their business, develop a plan for starting their business. Our project outcomes for this was updating the community resource guide, which I mentioned previously, and a link to that is available at the end of this presentation. We collected national stories of, success stories of entrepreneurs with disabilities, that can be found on our website, which is WWW.CEED project.org. And a link to that is at the end of the presentation.We provided training and education for staff and disability community agencies and small business development centers as well as training and education for people with disabilities, and a support person if they needed one or wanted to bring one. I'm advancing to the next slide which is number 18.
The CEED project was intended to address one of the central barriers that we found in our previous research, which is access to education and training opportunities for entrepreneurs with disabilities as well as people who are working with them.
We developed a curricula and the slide there, there are three pictures. The first shows a picture of our entrepreneur workbook, and a picture of our provider workbook which we used in universal design in creating, so both are written entirely in plain language, and completely accessible. There is also two photos of participants in our CEED training.The first photo on the top right shows participants seated in a L shape around the room, listening to two of our presenters, one was Laura Martinez who is a blind chef who started her own restaurant, here in Chicago, it's delicious, if you are ever in Chicago, I recommend looking her up. Andrew Fogarty has been working with SB D.C.es for several years, and so chef Laura and Andrew actually worked together to help start her business. In this training session pictured here they are talking about their experience working together and also their misconceptions before working together, and how they came to actually hooking up with each other. That sounds wrong. How they came to collaborating with each other, because they didn't hit it off immediately. It took some time, saying, I do want to do this, and him saying, but can you, and her saying, yes, I can and I'm going to. Are you going to help me or not? Then eventually he was like, yes, I would love to. Now Andrew has been working as an expert panelist on the CEED projects helping us develop this curriculum and making sure that we are providing the services in a way that SBDC folks will use it as well as the disability community.The second photograph pictured at the bottom right shows a bunch of our entrepreneur training participants, with schef Laura, pictured on the right -- chef. And myself in the middle. In case you want to know what I look like, I'm in a blue blazer with a short cropped haircut because I'm stylish. And that was during one of our training, one of our trainings, our participants were really excited to meet another entrepreneur with a disability who was actually successful in starting her business.
I don't know if any of you are master chef fans out there, but when chef Laura started Labiosa she got a message from Christine Huff who was the blind contestANT on the master chef program congratulating her. So we are building these connections on a larger scale. We have received interest from people outside of Illinois, nationally.
I'm advancing to the next slide which is slide number 19., titled entrepreneurship and disability employment policy. I've said these things and work that we have done. One question I get asked is entrepreneurship sounds great but how does it fit into what is currently going on in disability employment? We actually get those questions a lot from service providers who are trying to provide employment services, who aren't really sure if it's a competitive employment option, if it's a integrated employment option. I'll discuss that in a second. And also from vocational rehabilitation providers who are sometimes resistant entrepreneurship as strategy to folks they are serving because they are not sure how it's meeting their guidelines. One thing I want to start off with is the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 27 of the U.N. convention recognizes work and employment as a human right which is wonderful. Under this, under section F of this, it specifies that self-employment, opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one's business should also be recognized as an essential part of this human right.
One thing that a lot of folks don't know is that the entrepreneurships actually been included, entrepreneurship and small business development have been included in disability employment language since the '80s. Since the glass ceiling report in 1983, we have been talking about how entrepreneurship and starting your own business is an essential part of the American dream. And how people with disabilities should be able to start their own businesses if they want to. In fact, it was included in the very beginning in the WorkForce Investment Act, and it was specified that when we were establishing one stop employment centers, all of these employment centers were intended to provide entrepreneurship training and support at every single employment center.
Everybody who was providing these employment services were supposed to be giving, at least giving the option of entrepreneurship. However, what we found and I'll discuss in the next slide, was that that didn't necessarily happen. We can understand better now through our research why that didn't happen. But part of it had to do with not necessarily knowing how. That is something that our curriculum has accepted fill the gap on. But it's important to know that this has been in place for a while. We just haven't necessarily been following up with how to implement it.
With the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, in 2014, we again saw this same language, in all of the specifications, saying that people with disabilities should have access to opportunities for entrepreneurship and starting their own business.
It's been in the policy for ages, but we need to figure out how to actually implement it, which brings me to employment first policy. For anyone, I imagine that a lot of you know already what employment first policy is, but I'm going to say it again, in case someone doesn't. Employment first initiative at the federal level is the idea that people with disabilities should have the option to participate in competitive, integrated employment before anything else, so basically the idea that people with disabilities aren't being tracked into segregated sheltered employment, but rather they are given the opportunity to participate in competitive integrated employment first and foremost.
But it's up to each state how they implement it at the state level. We are seeing an increasing number of states who are beginning to implement employment first policies either through executive orders or actual legislation, with varying degrees of success. All of these states are sort of at different points in how they are trying to implement employment first, which means that there is a lot of gray area, especially when it comes to how entrepreneurship is being included or whether it's being included at all.
We have had several conversations with VR professionals who have said that they aren't providing, they don't see entrepreneurship as a competitive integrated employment option, and so they don't feel that they can provide it as a first option, under employment first policies. So there's been a lot of misinformation about whether it can be provided, I said that before. Bottom line to add clarification, entrepreneurship is a competitive integrated employment strategy. It should be considered as under employment first policy as a employment option before segregated or sheltered work.
That is something that as you will see in a couple of slides, is coming out as a national recommendation from the task force that we were involved with. Part of the reason why is because for any business to be competitive, it needs to actually be integrated in the community. You can't have a successful business that is segregated. It is just not going to work.
But also, we know from the limited data that we have, we know that individuals who are self-employed actually make more money than individuals who are in other employment arrangements. It's actually, it can be a really good employment strategy for those individuals who want to start a business, because they have an opportunity to make a sufficient amount of money.
I'm going to move on to the next slide, which is slide number 20. You recall I mentioned service, that entrepreneurship training and support was intended initially to be provided at every single one-stop center for employment services across the country. One of the things that we did in our research was looked at the government accountability office report on employment for people with disabilities, and basically broke it down about, for what they said about these entrepreneurship programs across the U.S.
It wasn't good. What we found kind of backed up what we were hearing from entrepreneurs with disabilities themselves, which is that to a large extent these programs weren't being offered or were being offered inconsistently. You see in the table that it's broken down among programs that provide the service to 50 percent, to 50 percent of their programs participants or more, that provide their program to 50 percent of their program participants or less, or that don't know the extent to which they are providing these services.
Most of the programs didn't know or didn't track the extent that they were providing these services to their participants. So we don't have any way of knowing how many people who are being served by these programs were actually offered entrepreneurship training and support. Then, when we look at the number that we are previous, that were providing it to more than 50 percent of their participants, that is about 7 percent of the programs. 13 percent of the programs were providing it to less than 50 percent of their program participants. 29 percent were providing it to an unknown number of their program participants.
You can look at how this breaks down across types of program categories, and what we can tell by doing this is that students transition age youth and young adults were receiving the least amount of entrepreneurship training and support services than any other category.
This is interesting, because there's actually been a large amount of interest and a bit of a push among transition age youth in particular to consider self-employment and entrepreneurship as an employment option, as they are transitioning from youth services, from child services to the adult service system. Seeing that they are actually the most underserved in this area is quite striking.
But overall, only 49 percent of programs that provide employment services are actually providing entrepreneurship training and support in some capacity, and only 13 percent of those programs are actually providing it to half or more of their participants, to break that down.
This is an area where we really need to spend a lot more attention. I'm moving to the next slide, which is slide number 21. I mentioned that we were involved in the national task force and that was the national task force on workforce development and employability for people with disabilities. They had an entire subcommittee to discuss entrepreneurship, tax incentives and procurement for people with disabilities. I was one of the advisors on that subcommittee. It was really wonderful, because it brought together state legislators and representatives as well as experts working in this area to talk about what changes we can make at the state level to provide better services to entrepreneurs with disabilities basically, and so they just released the Work Matters, what are they calling it, book, framework, work matters, a framework for states on workforce development for people with disabilities, that has wonderful recommendations in it, a lots of which came from our research about what states can do to provide tools and, basically giving states tools and resources to develop entrepreneurship services for individuals with disabilities in their states.
I would definitely check that out because there is a lot of great suggestions, recommendations in it, including this document, this document says without a doubt that entrepreneurship is a, it gives guidance about entrepreneurship is to be considered a competitive integrated employment opportunity under employment first policies and legislation, unequivocally it says that, so that is one of the largest recommendations that we want to make sure gets through on the state level, as these policies are being implemented.
The next slide, which is number 22, we wanted to talk about some of the disability and business resources that we have been combining, because we have been bringing together the business community and the disability community basically getting everyone, sometimes literally, to the same table to talk about these issues. That includes the Small Business Administration, otherwise known as the SBA and the Score network. One thing about the Small Business Administration is that they have what is called minority and women owned business enterprise programs, or also LGBT owned business enterprise programs. There is also chambers of commerces that work often with these programs. But they don't necessarily have a disability owned business enterprise program. That's been a subject of a lot of debate recently about whether or not the SBA is going to create a disability owned business enterprise program, similar to the other programs that they support. Interestingly though, being in Illinois, in Chicago especially, our mayor's office for people with disabilities, I recognized that I didn't write Chicago there but the Chicagoland mayor's office for people with disabilities, they have a business enterprises owned by people with disabilities list, that they do contracting, local contracting through. The State of Illinois has a similar list for Illinois contracting services, that can go to disability owned businesses. That is an area that is really developing. The mayor's office for people with disabilities also offers WIPPA and Pass planning, basically one of the barriers that we keep running into is that entrepreneurs with disabilities who are worried about losing their benefits, they need help planning, doing benefits planning, so that they can figure out how to make the profit that they want to make without losing their benefits until they are at a point where they can become self-sufficient and not need to rely on those benefits, because one of the biggest concerns is the potential for needing to reapply for benefits if something happens with their business. It is difficult to reapply for benefits.
By working with a benefits counselor, it helps individuals do that financial planning that they need to take into consideration how their benefits are going to impact their business finances, so if they can actually get to the point where they can, where they no longer need those benefits or if they are coming up with that financial strategy that is inclusive of disability issues as well as business issues. The mayor's office for people with disabilities, they have been wonderful working with us on that. The U.S. Business Leadership Network is also a wonderful resource for entrepreneurs with disabilities, they have a disability owned business enterprise program that I know works with several business partners to do contracting that way.Businesses can get disability owned business enterprise certification through the USBLN and be eligible for certain training or procurement, procurement training opportunities that they do, and work with some of their business partners, and also we have been working for the CEED project with the Chicago Business Leadership Network in do more training and they have been a wonderful partner in helping provide some of the business resources for making the connections between individuals that need to be made. Of course as I mentioned, small business development centers, which actually sort of fall under the SBA, and vocational rehabilitation and personal assistance services are also resources that individuals can use to help start a business.
Another thing that I want to mention is that, supplemental needs trusts can be used for the purposes of entrepreneurships to help people develop sort of some savings for their business, but also Able accounts which have been receiving a lot of interest lately, can be used for the purposes of entrepreneurship and helping to place those initial funds.
One thing that I should have included on here is something that is called an IDA, individual development account. Individual development accounts are cool, but sort of underprovided opportunities which goes sort of through partnerships with credit unions, and they provide a matched savings account that does not count against an individual's benefits. Usually they are done in cooperation with a financial literacy program, so an individual can learn how to set up and maintain a savings account for themselves, and it also gets them a matched savings account so that can be a great way for individuals with disabilities to generate seed funds for themselves. This is all information that we include in our curricula in more depth.
So, on slide number 23, we list a lot of resources, starting with our resource page on our website, and also a link that goes to our community resource guide that I mentioned previously. I've listed here a bunch of articles that we have written. If you need or would like a copy of this article and are unable to access it, send us an E-mail at the E-mail on the bottom of the slide, and we would be more than happy to send it to you. On our website we provide plain language summaries of all of our articles. It's basically a summary that is written in plain language and it has a audio file of the plain language summary.
But if you would like the full text of the article, feel free to send us a message. At the bottom of the slide, I include our website address as well as our E-mail which is just CEED @ UIC.edu.You can find us on Facebook if you search for entrepreneurs with disabilities-UIC, we will pop up and be more than happy to be Facebook friends with you all.
I'm advancing to -- no, that is not my slide.Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about disability and entrepreneurship. We really enjoyed this. We love talking about it. We are looking forward to hearing your questions.
Thank you, Kate. You gave a very extensive review and discussion, and I saw some people sending in some comments, thanking you for your passion and your clarity with the presentation. I think that the information was obviously well received.
Questions, as I said, can be -- in a minute we will ask the operator to see if there are any questions from people, within the webinar platform feel free to submit questions in the chat area or you can E-mail them at webinars @ ADA-.org.
Can you please give instructions for anybody on the telephone if they want to ask a question?
Yes. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have any questions or comments at this time, please press the star and then the 1 key on your touch-tone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove your self from the queue, press the pound key. If you have questions or comments, please press star, then 1. One moment for questions.
Great. We have some questions that, I'll wait to see if anything comes in, do you have any way of [inaudible] is there any way to get connected to people, talking about the networking that you found with focus groups and such, people or similar groups, even this group of people that you previously worked with to see if there would be a virtual meet or share or network of some type?
Did that make sense, Kate?
I'm sorry. I don't think I caught the entire question. Would you mind repeating it?
Yeah, the question is, a couple -- I'll go back. Does the ADA protect or give rights to people with disabilities to get provisions from state agencies to support starting a business especially discrimination pertaining to the person with disability being quote-unquote able to do the job the person would like to do.
In terms of starting their own business, no, because it comes under it's a small business. So unless they have employees, it's not going to protect discrimination in the sense of if they have to do a job in gardening through a service agency but they set up to do a job in a factory, there isn't really recourse with there, but through a SBDC which is federally funded, a SBDC is protected under people using a SBDC are protected under the ADA (overlapping speakers).
People aren't really that familiar with all the acronyms, that would be small business development center.
Yeah. Small business development centers come under the Small Business Administration, which is federally funded, and then usually small business development centers are also state funded. If a person wanted to use services, they would be protected under the ADA in terms of accessibility.What we have found in practice is two issues when it comes to the small business development centers.One in recent times, in the last year in particular, the funding has been significantly cut across the board, across nationally, and so I think we had around maybe 34, 35, I'm not sure if the number is accurate, small development centers in the state, got cut down to 20 or even 18. Funding has been cut but secondly, some of the issues that we are hearing and that we are experiencing is in practice people are struggling to do basic accessibility like getting in the door if they are a wheelchair user, there is definitely a lack of computer accessibility, in terms of one of the main services, small business development centers provide, is use of computers. There isn't accessible technology.
Another issue that we find a lot of is that the business licensing process isn't necessarily accessible, especially to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, or who require an interpreter perhaps or who have intellectual developmental disabilities. Sometimes trying to get food sanitation certification, for example, or a business license at the local or state level, that may not be accessible, and a lot of times, the individuals administering those licenses and certifications don't understand what accommodations need to be made. So those would also be, have to be accessible under the ADA as well. So that is an area where we are starting to do more advocacy.
Were there other questions, Robin?
We have a question on the telephone lines. From Debra Riordan, you may proceed.
Good afternoon, thank you. This has been a great webinar. I was wondering, I know that it's very challenging, I'm a disability navigator within the workforce system and the one-stop setting, American job centers, I know that when someone talks about self-employment, it's like the deer in theheadlights kind of look. I provide many resources to folks who are looking to start their own businesses. However, trying to get them linked with either VR or WIOA, has been very challenging, and mainly because of the state performance measures with the wage rate that those sort of markers that really throw up a lot of barriers for the workforce centers to really, to be able to embrace entrepreneurial efforts a little better. Do you have any success stories or experiences with workforce or WIOA wea funding that has gotten the businesses up and running?
I know we have, I'm not sure with WIOA VR but like the chef Laura was one of the success stories. Kate didn't go into much detail of the background of that. One of the challenges and you mentioned this, is that to get funding through VR, they also fund their own $5,000 but the paperwork is around 80 pages long, with extensive reporting requirements. It's completely in-accessible to access. What your question taps into which is important to raise is that the policies themselves aren't necessarily set up to support entrepreneurs.Like there is a bigger issue that the policies system itself isn't set up. One of the ways and how chef Laura got around was having a advocate through Andrew connecting with somebody from an SBDC working hard to advocate that she could do it, and then trying to dispel all the myths around inability, and then once she crossed the attitudinal barriers, and Andrew talks about this from the SBDC, he speaks about the intense support that was required to navigate through some of the policy systems. It's a success story but it's a success story that requires a lot of intensive support and willingness on the part to do it.
Another entrepreneur that we have worked with, he kept running into the issues around getting the food sanitation license and the business certification, and worked with a lawyer from our local protection and advocacy agency here in Illinois, which is called quip for equality. He worked with a lawyer from equip for equality to get through all the paperwork that he needed to, in order to start his business which ended up being very successful.
But one of the recommendations that's come out now in the national task force framework, work matters, that was mentioned previously, is basically cutting down on the bureaucracy, cutting down on the paperwork, simplifying the process, making it more accessible, so that there isn't as much disincentive to getting people with disabilities starting businesses.
Yeah, you know for WIOA in order to justify spending training dollars, whether that be directed to an employer, to self-employment pursuit, the wage rate has to be running at a $13 an hour rate.
So, it's oftentimes people who are starting off in business, they are just not, they are not there. Then trying to equate that into hours, to justify their activities, I believe is another formula for conversion to justify WIOA funding. It just is very challenging, and truthfully, it's a level of training that is just not readily available to the, your typical job center staff.
Oh, yeah. That is a wonderful point. Thank you so much. One of the things that we have done in our curriculum is, we have an entire chapter focusing on financing the business, and one of the key things for entrepreneurs with disabilities is being able to project what that wage might be, and so actually doing the financial planning to figure out what their break even point is going to be and at what point, how much they are going to be able to make given their business expenses and everything.That is something that can actually be projected, and but you need to actually know how to do that.One of the things that service providers like yourself haven't had access to a lot is basically the tools to do that.
There is a young man who created, and I don't know if you are familiar with this device, but it's called the you be duo, a three-way texting device, I've had one for years here at the workforce center for job-seekers, and it's a wonderful story.He and his father, and I believe they got their funding from, I know they went through workforce but I think they also got economic dollars to help with the start-up, the design of the UB duo and so they really, I mean now they are just off the charts.They are doing so well. I love to hear more and more stories like that.
Oh, yeah. Another story I would love to share, if anyone has heard of, why am I blanking on the name? Joe's popping corn? Joe Steffe started a kettle corn business. It's been very successful.But one thing that is interesting is that Joe actually, now he's got a contract with Wal-Mart to supply them with his kettle corn. He's got this contract so he knows he is going to have this regular income, and that was facilitated by the U.S. Business Leadership Network, and so these types of contracts can actually be really fruitful for entrepreneurs with disabilities which is why it's interesting to think about contracting and procurement opportunities that entrepreneurs with disabilities may be able to utilize. (overlapping speakers).
We can talk for hours. I don't want to take up all your time. But I'm fascinated by this topic, and I would love to hear more and more success stories because I think that is what invigorates people on all sides.
We thank you, as we have been collecting national success stories and starting to post those on our website, so you can actually log on to the website and start to see some of the profiles up there. This is on a ongoing project that we are doing which is collecting national success stories of entrepreneurs with disabilities, how they got into it, what resources and supports they used. So we can start building up like a really strong profile of this, because I think that is the most powerful story of all is how other people are doing it (overlapping speakers).
Do we have any other questions?
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have any questions or comments, please press the star and then the 1 key on your touch-tone telephone. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, if you have any questions or comments, please press star, then 1.
We do not have any further questions at this time.
Great. I apologize, I had issues with my microphone. I do have a question that I received via E-mail. This question is, are states with employment first programs embracing these concepts and acting on them? I have not heard much of this in connection with employment first yet. Yet you mentioned it in the presentation.
Thank you for the question. I think we can really speak to the State of Illinois, I think, mostly because employment first is just rolling out.Our experience with service providers with the employment first changes has been generally mixed but mostly positive. I think people are, service providers are embracing the change, particularly service providers who have been offering more traditional forms of data centers and sheltered workshops, they are looking to change, they are willing to change for the most part. They don't really have the resources and the support to know how to make that change happen in practice. As Kate mentioned, one of the ways to do this is to actually have, we didn't really focus on it in today's presentation, but to have the agency themselves become a social enterprise, where one of the missions of the agencies is employing people with disabilities, is starting a business, we have examples of this, where they start a business as an agency employing people with disabilities that are part of the agencies and using those profits to help further support employment services.
That is one model. That can be quite effective if it's done with the right supports. Other agencies such as Ray Graham for example is an excellent case study on how they themselves are actually trying to support people with disabilities become entrepreneurs themselves.
Yeah, and Ray Graham has been doing a wonderful job of doing this through microenterprise funding, and that is one thing that we know really works, to help people with disabilities start their businesses, is when that seed funding is provided through a microenterprise loan to individuals. That is really great because it provides them with start-up funds and it also provides them with that initial support. But what we don't know is what happens after that seed funding period ends. What we can tell from the research we have done is that a lot of those businesses tend to disappear. One thing that folks need to do is not just think about starting the business, but also what is going to happen after it starts. How are businesses going to develop and grow and sustain itself over time? But yes, the social enterprise model of employing people with disabilities can also be really effective but it's also really important, especially in employment first states, to make sure that their social enterprise programs aren't just repackaging segregated or sheltered employment programs because there have been folks trying to do that. They have been, we are a employment first state but we don't want to change what we are doing so we will call it something different. That is never going to work because it is just not going to work. But actually starting a social enterprise program where individuals with disabilities are involved in deciding what the social mission is going to be, and where they have a say in how that program develops, as being employed by the program, that can be really powerful.
The two biggest changes and something to be mindful of with this issue moving forward is, one is the attitudinal change that needs to occur, when you have a particular approach to employment that's been done for a very long time, coming really out of the box with something like entrepreneurship, in the disability community, service community, that hasn't been well supported, people aren't trained in it, you have very few service providers that have a background specifically in business or MB As, all of a sudden are expected to provide services in this very new arena, and the attitudinal barriers to push through how a person with a disability can be a business owner, but they are business owners, they are not just a person with a disability dabbling in business, that they have, that they can have opportunities for businesses, that is something that is an ongoing process, I would say.
The second thing is having those policies and supports and services, and this is something that the CEED program is trying to address is by offering training to service providers around business and by offering training to entrepreneurs, so a lot of entrepreneurs in our CEED training actually came as part of an agency as well. So we were training not just the entrepreneur in that sense but also the agency, to have that cultural shift towards understanding that not everyone should or wants to be a entrepreneur, but for those that do, they have opportunities and services and supports to do it.
I think this is all still very new. It is a new landscape. There has been a lot of excitement and interest around it and how to do it. The CEED training program is one training program out there that is really starting to try and bridge service agency, business agencies and entrepreneurs themselves. There is a lot more work to go to embrace this kind of new ideology of entrepreneurship.
Yeah. I think the key here in what we are trying to accomplish is that we, we aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. We aren't really trying to ask disability community agencies to become business professionals and we aren't asking business professionals to become disability experts.
But rather, it's leveraging these existing programs and these existing resources and getting them to not only be aware of each other but actually work together, that is really going to be successful, because they already exist. We are just asking them to sort of look at where their interests and their expertise intersects and work together.We can definitely provide the support information and resources that entrepreneurs with disabilities really are going to need going forward.
Great. So I want to move on to another E-mail, one that I have here, talking about state VR agencies and DD agencies, and other providers.
For people to explore these issues, how are they doing that, we find agencies are supportive and DD agencies support some of the service agencies to do microbusinesses, etcetera, but do not see them support individuals.[inaudible]
So, it should be fundable with a waiver, but at the same time, it's going to take the individual to make that happen. In terms of the interests of the VR and DD agencies in entrepreneurship, I believe that was the question? One of the reasons why we started doing this research here was because we saw such a growing interest in the community in entrepreneurship already. So we wanted to understand why it was happening and how it was happening. Then we just got more and more involved with making it happen.
Not making it happen, but rather, one of the things that we found through doing our research in looking up what was going on in our state, is that we ended up doing advocacy just by doing recruitment for our research. We ended up advocating with business folks, with disability folks, about what disability entrepreneurship is currently and what it can be in the future. As more so when we started having conversations with entrepreneurs with disabilities themselves. So that is really, that gained a lot of momentum.
There was that seed of interest there to begin with, and once we started advocating and having these conversations and bringing everybody to the same table to start having these conversations, it just kept growing and growing until, to what we see now, where we are constantly getting phone calls from people who attended our training, wanting to know what's next, because we don't want to lose touch with them and they don't want to lose touch with us. They are looking for more opportunities to continue working on this and working together.
I think even if there feels like there is not an interest there, there probably is, but you have to tap into it. Then the more you get involved, the bigger it's going to grow, at least that has been our experience. I'm not sure if I answered your question, however.
One part is the challenge. We mentioned this but in particular with VR, when you are assessed on case closure, entrepreneurship and starting your own business is hard to assess under the current policy system. There are VR, we have been working with VR counselors in Illinois that have been involved in our training and are part of our advisory board. But one of the challenges they speak about is that you have individual interests, but it's a mountain to push up, given the current policy of VR around case closures and what it means.That is similar to the WIOA, having to prove a income immediately, like the $13 an hour, having to prove that somebody has been employed for 90 days under case closure entrepreneurship doesn't fit into that. You have a question of culture that ultimately the interest is there and growing, but the barriers are around those policies that really are starting in the face of new employment strategies, starting to be a little bit old-fashioned right now, and need more tweaking.I'm conscious of time. Maybe we can end there.
All right. I want to thank our presenters, Kate Caldwell, Sarah Parker-Harris and Maija Renko from the university of Illinois at Chicago. That concludes today's presentation. Today's session is recorded. It will be archived at WWW.ADA-audio.org.