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Building the capacity of disabled people's organisations to develop economic livelihoods for people with disabilities in rural areas

Action on Poverty will deliver practical support to disabled people's organisations on enterprise development for their members.

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What problem does your idea solve?

Many disability organisations established with a focus on advocacy for rights of people with disability. Many such organisations, especially those in rural or particularly poor areas, are not equipped with the skills and experience to support livelihood development, micro-enterprise establishment, or the income generating activities for their members to become more economically active, and able to support themselves and contribute their household.

Explain your idea

We will offer a service to develop the capacity of DPOs in how to identify local market needs, and income generation activities for people with disabilities, how to establish loan funds to support business establishment, and how to mentor and support disabled entrepreneurs and businesses in their early years. A programme will be devised depending on the local context, size of the organisation and range of opportunities present. The programme will involve a series of training sessions, support in set up of services, mentoring of staff, and follow-up during implementation. Monitoring and evaluation will be carried out, and lessons learnt for future implementation. APT has worked in partnership with others to provide training and support to a range of marginalised groups to earn their own income from livelihoods, including people with disabilities; finding ways to share learning and expertise (such as through mentors, peer educators, effective groups and associations) and widen the impact. By working in partnership with DPOs the approach will maximise the benefit of membership organisations and collaborative effort with a business approach.

Who benefits?

The members of Disabled people's organisations in Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone. These can be organisations already known to Action on Poverty, or ones requiring this type of support. The members will have a range of disabilities and live in rural or semi urban areas. They are often living in extreme poverty. They are both male and female and of working age. Action on Poverty will also work in other African countries to provide these services to improve economic inclusion of PWD.

How is your idea unique?

Action on Poverty has experience in livelihood development, enterprise development and market value chain analysis. Approaching the need for livelihoods for people with disabilities from the market led, business perspective, can ensure that people with disabilities can get the support they need to become economically active, through accessing their local DPO. By working in partnership with grassroots DPOs - covering a range of different disabilities - and with a national umbrella DPO which can extend the model more widely, this will blend together small enterprise support with collaborative peer support delivered through membership organisations.

Tell us more about you

We will work with a grassroots umbrella DPO in Gulu District (GDPU) which represents about 5000 PWDs in Gulu and Amuru Districts and with a National umbrella DPO in Kampala (NUDIPU) to further test & implement the idea, with technical input, mentoring from APT Programme Manager. Local service providers, specific DPO inputs as idea develops. Support extension of training to county level DPOs in Uganda, and in Kenya, Sierra Leone building staff capacity for future support.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

How do we ensure the model is adopted by other PWD and DPO networks and make sure the quality and sustainability is maintained? How do we convince mainstream MFI providers to make their services accessible to, and inclusive of PWD as and when they scale up businesses?

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Kenya
  • Sierra Leone
  • Uganda

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Early Growth/Roll-out/Scaling: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

Considering aspects of sustainability and building capacity, we will start in Uganda, where we will discuss and further develop the prototype with GDPU and NUIDPU to be able to deliver the economic livelihoods support to their DPO membership. Incorporate into the capacity building further ways to build links with and influence other Business Development Services (BDS) and MFIs in local areas and resourcing on-going support; promote ethos of ‘passing on the gift’ building on the spirit of many disabled entrepreneurs to train or act as a mentors to assist other PWDs in their community and stimulate further problem solving with their peers. This builds on successful role models inspiring other PWD, and on DPOs as membership-based organisations so default position is for members to help each other and work collectively. Include sensitisation of household members. We will extend to other country lead organisations (Sierra Leone, Kenya) during the 18 month development phase.

Who will implement this idea?

Staff NUDIPU (0.5, Kampala), GDPU (2 Gulu), 0.5 APT (UK based) with further part time support from different members of these organisations to gather further ideas from different perspectives, including Executive Directors; and voluntary local DPO staff. Through planning & development, intensive courses and follow up. Other organisations in Kenya and Sierra Leone - mixture of enterprise and DPOs - lead organisations will be ones APT already has relationship with and registered in country.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

APT has a long history of working closely with community groups using participatory methods, with ideas are initiated at the grassroots with partners. Our role is to help them develop their idea into a project, and support them during implementation. APT is a small flexible organisation and all staff have input into strategy development signed off by the CEO (personally involved in this idea); with a supportive board open to new ideas. Building enterprise capacity with PWD already identified as important to strategy – by all 3 organisations - challenge is how best to. Ideas from members, agreed by Board/Gen Assem. Since GDPU is an autonomous branch of NUDIPU there are a shared set of values, mission, objectives, thereby making decisions and/or changes straightforward and consensual.

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

As a learning organisation we value the concept of developing the idea jointly with beneficiaries and their representatives, based on their initial ideas. Most traditional funding methods require a very short period to develop a set proposal, which is then restricted in its implementation. This allows us to use our learning to develop an idea together in an inclusive way – especially with experts in human centred design - please help us to collaborate.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Key challenges for rural PWD in enterprise/employment: 1. Stigma and discrimination (attitudinal, institutional) at all levels - pervades challenges below. 2. Self-confidence of PWD themselves; support of key family members, few examples/role models to inspire them. 3. No access to business support services/training, including identifying market appropriate enterprise ideas. 4. Limited or no access to finance. System level: DPOs generally provide support and access to services, advocacy and solidarity for PWD, but lack experience, skills in supporting PWD to engage in employment. Livelihoods NGOs/BDS often do not effectively include PWD, or only the most visible & vocal - men with physical impairments, excluding disabled women and people with hearing, visual, intellectual impairmen

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

By 2021, 10,000 people with disabilities will have better access to skills and resources to develop enterprises through implementation of the model; and 200+ DPOs in 3 countries will have the skills to assist their disabled members to develop their economic potential. How do we adjust our model to impact quickly but sustainably and ensure uptake of DPOs. How do we convince mainstream MFI providers to make their services accessible to, and inclusive of PWD as and when they scale up business

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • More than 2 years

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Between 10-20 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our idea.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.

Websites:; Facebook: nationalunionofdisabledpersonsofuganda Facebook: Actiononpoverty1 Facebook: @guludisabledpersonsunion
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Attachments (6)

APT DPO employment and enterprise - test your idea and get feedback 3.docx

We have previously got feedback from people with disabilities and have got further feedback on the idea from a number of DPOs and enterprise organisations in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Kenya; these gather some of the thoughts.

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Page 1 of Use Experience Map. We have many versions of this!

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Pages 2 of User Experience Map.

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Page 3 of End user Map

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Page 4 of End User Map


This includes some of our learning and experience of helping people with a range of disabilities access enterprise and employment


Join the conversation:

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Hi Rose Acock and Action on Poverty Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from the Amplify team and an external set of experts. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

- We're excited you are building upon a proven model and adapting it for persons with disabilities with the focus on supporting DPOs - great job!
- We're curious to know how you have involved your end users into the design and development of your idea. For example: how have you integrated DPOs and persons with disabilities into the creation and facilitation of training sessions? Be sure to include a User Experience Map in your submission! This journey mapping process will help you think about the full experience of your end user.
- One of our experts asks, "To support sustainability, will Action on Poverty provide support developing partnerships with local trading associations and ongoing training for post-set up of businesses?"
- Tell us more about the scale of your project. Why did you choose Kenya/Sierra Leone/Tanzania/Uganda for the implementation of your idea? Do you have existing relationships with DPOs and/or communities in those countries? What hypotheses do you want to test as you think about expanding your idea?
- Can you draw out any success stories for similar work to give more color to what will actually be done on the ground? What are some lessons learned and insights in your previous iterations of your program?
- Different disabilities and health conditions require very different types and level of support when it comes to economically empowering individuals, what about this approach would recognize these varied needs?

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 4 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Rose Acock

APT has lots of experience obtaining feedback from the end users – at one level with people with disabilities who want to undertake an enterprise but don’t have the confidence, skills, or resources to do so; and also with building the capacity of intermediary organisations – DPOs are included in this. Some stories and perceptions are included in the User Experience Map.
The journey mapping process also included the DPOs – ranging from grassroots DPOs at the village/community level with a handful of members to significant umbrella DPOs with the capacity to replicate a model to other DPOs and branches.

One of the key issues is to replicate a model which takes into account the capacity and resources at the grassroots DPO level to ensure sustainability. By working with volunteer mentors to deliver support and establishing links with other services and resources needed – not just local trading associations but a whole range of business development services (BDS). By working in this structure the members are often already meeting and supporting each other, sometimes already operating VSLAs (Village Savings and Loan Associations) so that guidance can unlock effective use of local resources, MFIs and other BDS. Such mentors can be DPO members/leaders who are used to providing their time to help their peers or PWD operating enterprise. During the model development the team will also seek and explore sources of fees for trainers/mentors such as from other NGOs, VTCs.

Feedback from a wide range of DPOs and other organisations which could contribute to building the capacity of DPOs with respect to enterprise has meant that it is envisaged that Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone will be the countries that the project will target. APT already has existing relationships with DPOs or enterprise organisations in these countries which are keen to extend their capacity building to DPOs and has already got feedback from many in the initial stages of this idea development. Uganda has been selected as the first place to develop the prototype, making use of one of an experienced national umbrella organisation NUDIPU (National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda) and the development of one of its now autonomous grassroots branches – GDPU (Gulu Disabled Persons Union). GDPU is an umbrella organisation of Disabled Persons of the Gulu and Amura District, formed by PWD themselves. APT has previously partnered with NUDIPU to deliver Enterprise Business training to PWD. NUDIPU has 112 county level DPOs and 10 National Levels as part of their structure. It has the scope, maturity and potential for leverage/scaling up.


- Capacity of DPOs can be increased to inspire and support their members to develop/expand their enterprises in the timeframe available.
- Other DPOs and networks can be trained and mobilised to implement the model
- Support and services are fully inclusive and can be sustained.

- Different disabilities: The model draws on DPOs with specialist support and knowledge for different disabilities and they will continue to feed into the process. It responds to individual needs, opportunities and resources so takes into account different disabilities and health conditions – performing different roles and with different partnerships (including with family members) as part of this. APT has significant experience of undertaking livelihoods and enterprise development work with disabled women and men with a wide range of impairments such as hearing, visual and intellectual as well as physical/mobility impairments in both Africa and Asia, much of which has been documented. This experience and learning (guidelines are uploaded) will be brought to bear in the implementation of this idea.