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Disabled Tenderpreneurs Hub – enabling disability companies/entrepreneurs to successfully tender for Government contracts in Kenya

Disability Tenderpreneurs Hub - bridging the gap - preparing, skilling and financing disability companies, to access government contracts.

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What problem does your idea solve?

Disability companies are unable to currently benefit from the governments affirmative action program AGPO (Access to Government Procurement Opportunities) for disability, youth and women led companies, to tender and win 30% government contracts. Only 1% of the 1500 disability companies that have mushroomed since the programme started in 2013, have been able to gain government contracts. This is a result of disability companies/entrepreneurs lack of affordable credit, skills, and experience.

Explain your idea

Kenya Union of the Blind will work with Action on Poverty (UK international development organisation with experience in livelihoods, enterprise development and disability), and DESCOS to form a 'Disabled Tenderpreneurs Hub' (DTH), a membership organisation for disability entrepreneurs/companies specifically set up to enable to them to access government contracts. The Disabled Tenderpreneurs Hub will be the missing step to enable disabled people's companies to access government contracts under the AGPO programme. There have been no other attempts to bridge the gap between the capacity of the Disabled Companies and the Government tender process previously. The Hub will build an endowment that shall finance businesses owned by PWDs. DTH shall seek additional equity from shareholders and or development partners to strengthen its reserve base in order to benefit more Tenderprenuers with disabilities. DTH will run an online management system that will host and link existing and newly established PWD companies to more opportunities including those in the private sector. DTH shall extend business development and capacity building, technical and market support services to thousands of existing and new companies run by PWDs in Kenya, on a fee paying basis. It will provide shared office spaces to 30 Disabled Tenderprenuers. DTH shall run a revolving micro finance scheme that will lend to companies run by PWDs who win government tenders, and link with other financial services.

Who benefits?

The project will engage with the 1500 registered youth disability companies to join the hub, and make use of hub services. The hub will be based in Nairobi with outreach activities in other regions and an online management system. A typical client will be a registered business/entrepreneur who is wishing to prepare to access 30% of government tenders that are available to women, youth and PWD companies. Beneficiaries will include disabled employees of the disability enterprises.

How is your idea unique?

There are no similar services in Kenya for disability companies, and this is a unique opportunity for disability companies to develop their businesses through the AGPO programme. Youth and women run companies have fared better, in accessing this preferential programme. We are partnering with Action on Poverty (UK) which specialises on enterprise development for disadvantaged groups. The Access to Government Procurement Opportunities website is unlikely to provide training materials as part of their site as it exceeds their remit, and impartiality. People with disabilities want opportunities to engage in business and enterprise, and the 30% contracts going to such groups is a fantastic opportunity which is not being capitalised on due to the barriers mentioned. There are similar services for youth to access APGO, which have proved successful for youth.

Tell us more about you

The Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB) is a non-governmental, non-political, membership-based organisation, established in 1960 as the national organisation for visually impaired persons in Kenya. KUB will work with DESCOS to access and provide an affordable loan system for business development and credit. Action on Poverty (UK) CEO and Programme Manager (who is a disability expert and has disabilities himself) will guide the design and implementation, and provide training.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We know that it will take some considerable time to build business capacities of Tenderprenuers with Disabilities to be on a par with their peers (women and youth) in accessing AGPO contracts. This is the first step towards a long journey. We recognise that the development of quality online content will be challenging, even though we have (KUB) experience providing tender support and enterprise training, we want to make user-friendly, accessible and relevant content, prepared together with representatives of different disability groups and business types/stages.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Kenya

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

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

Disability Owned Companies have different levels of needs, some will just need some assistance with familiarisation with the tender process, whereas others will need more support in building their business before they are at the level to apply for tenders. For this reason, the first group prototype will be DOC which are close to being able to access government contracts, as this will be a powerful example and incentive for others to emulate. Although the DTH idea is focused on accessing government tenders through AGPO, the idea can also be opened up to consider the private sector. The online hub will have the facilities to link DOC and the private sector. To encourage sustainability of the idea moving forward, more attention will need to be paid to the financing model of service provision, in particular for creation of high quality on-line training materials.

Who will implement this idea?

KUB: Project lead; host and manage both online and physical hub; enrol and manage a databank of Tenderprenuers; manage training activities; jointly manage and run the endowment fund (with DESCOS). CEO/Finance Manager p/t, an administrator (f/t) engaged by KUB will manage hub activities. The hub is already available at KUB offices, at no additional cost. APT role: Provide technical assistance to KUB; contribute and guide on design and structure of the DTH, and design of a training tool kit.

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. Our role is to help partners develop their idea into a project, and support them during implementation either as a lead or technical assistance. APT is a small organisation and already has buy-in from the staff and board, and this activity fits well with our mission. Additional learning on human-centred design approach will also help us to deliver such approaches to our partners. KUB is a creative organisation that has weathered difficult times financially over its long history. This has led to innovative working with KUB setting up DESCOS, and the Enterprises of the Blind Ltd (EBLI). The CEO is personally developing this idea, which gives it a high level of support within the organisation

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

Creativity and innovation: Amplify provides for freedom to generate and share new ideas that have never been tested before yet have potential, unlike traditional funding models that are restricted and predetermined in scope of operations. Sustainable: Amplify’s human-centred approach, paves the way for enhancing project sustainability. Participation of key actors during project conception, formulation, design to implementation is critical for purposes of ownership.

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?

End user: - Most DOCs lack technical skills and competencies to navigate the tendering process. Some seek help from KUB secretariat, those outside Nairobi engage consultants to assist, which can be expensive and ineffective. - DOCs cannot access online tender information easily due to ICT skills gaps. Without access to ICT, DOCs rely on newspapers, which don’t publish all tenders. Many use cyber cafes and enlist the help of staff (at a cost). - Access to finance (for LPO and LSO) is hindered by lack of physical office address. - Marketing Services: Most DOCs lack expertise to market their good/services effectively. System: - Access to Finance/Credit Facilities: LPO and LSO financing is approved by banks/micro finance institutions only with security, which many DOC lack.

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?

IMPACT: "By 2022, we will have build capacities and/or provided finance for 1000 Disabled Owned Companies (DOCs) in Kenya to operate under AGPO platform. We will mobilize and Scale an endowment loan capitalization of $1 Million to spur growth for additional 2000 DOCs by the year 2030" QUESTION: "How do we design our programs to effectively strengthen capacities of Disabled Owned Companies (DOCs), to deliver services and products with dignity, reliability and sustainability?''

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

  • Less than 6 months

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

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

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

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

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. facebook: ActiononPoverty1 facebook: Kenya Union of the Blind


Join the conversation:

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Hi Rose Acock and KUB 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.

- You clearly articulate your idea and the gap you hope to address - great job!
- We're curious to know more about the partnership between KUB, DESCOS, and Action on Poverty. Who will be the core, implementing team? How many staff will be dedicated this project? Are the members full time or volunteer? Do you already have an existing space and Hub?
- Tell us about how you work with PWDs and disability organizations in your process and the development of your idea. We highly encourage you to complete a User Experience Map to explore the journey of your user! Explore how your user would interact with various stakeholders and services. Here is the guide (
- How will your service be accessible to disability companies? What are some potential barriers your user may face and how do you hope to address these challenges? For example: is accessibility to web services a limiting factor? who will bear the cost of creating the Hub and the resources for upkeep?

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

Hi OpenIdeo,
Demand for this service: KUB are approached by around 50 Disability Owned Companies per year requesting specific assistance with tender applications since the AGPO was established in 2013. KUB have been able to help some of these, and refer them to micro-finance providers, and assist with online tender applications where they can.
These companies are already formed and are operational in their fields (which include supply of assistive devices – Braille machines, wheelchairs, white canes, hearing aids, note takers etc, software – dolphin, Jaws, Euler, general office supplies, light construction and maintenance works of classrooms, water tanks, rural roads and bridges maintenance works, training services in disability mainstreaming, rehabilitation, massage services, Braille and sign language lessons etc).

Some DOCs lack ICT skills necessary to negotiate the online tender process, and need to better understand the process and types of information and detail needed , many do not own/lease their own offices, this is a barrier when they came to apply for loan financing.
Other barriers include lack of marketing expertise – many do not have a web presence.
Making the physical Hub available is one way to ensure affordable access to internet and ICT, but this will only provide for 30 companies (initially). Other companies are able to use internet cafes for example. Affordability of accessing the Hub on the internet is an issue for some companies, which we will continue to seek a solution for.
Once these barriers are overcome, these DOCs can start to expand, gain larger contracts and grow their businesses, employing more people with disabilities.

Partnership between Action on Poverty (APT), Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB) and DESCOS (Disability Employment Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Ltd.
KUB and APT will sign a working agreement to clarify our respective roles in the project. The idea for this project has developed out of the need that KUB have identified with their members and Disabled Owned Companies that they have been supporting through other activities. APT staff –CEO part time, Programme Manager part time.
DESCOS was registered 2 years ago as a separate organisation after being set up by KUB. Now DESCOS operates separately, it is open to people with all types of disabilities, and has a separate board. There is one full-time member of staff.
DESCOS will be the financing arm of the HUB, providing savings and loans, and guarantees as it already does. Interest will be lower than what is offered by commercial providers, who regard DOCs as high risk. DESCOS offices are located in one of KUB premises.

The Disabled Tenderpreneurs Hub
The Hub will be located at KUB headquarters in Nairobi. The space is available with workstations in a large room provided by KUB. Some expenses will relate to utilities only.
The Disabled Tenderprenerus Hub will be a one stop online and digital facility offering integrated support solutions for DOCs operating under AGPO. It will have a dashboard which can be used by all categories of PWDs without limits (accessible via assistive software for the visually impaired and sign language videos). Disability Companies will pay a service fee for membership of the hub.
In addition, there will be 30 workstations with computers which will be available to 30 companies at the Hub offices (hosted by KUB) which can be used for registered addresses and computer and internet access.
The Hub will have a register of disability companies listing their contact information, scope of business, experience etc, so private sector can seek them to deliver private contract services.
Other Hub users will access online only, either through their own connections, or from cyber cafes which are in abundance in Kenya.
The Hub will also guide DOCs to available finance and grants such as the National Disability Fund, which is particularly interested in supporting businesses run by people with disabilities. The DTH will build a case for annually obtaining part of the National Disability Fund to contribute to the endowment of DESCOS to support disability owned companies through loans.
Training offered through the Hub to registered companies
How to develop and deliver technical and financial tenders, pitching successful proposals and business plan development, marketing, customer care, customer business development, business networking etc. These will be delivered both as traditional training sessions at the physical hub, and as online tutorials, videos and webinars.
KUB has a long standing experience training visually impaired persons in assistive ICTs.
Resources for the Upkeep of the Hub
KUB already has ideas of how it would be financed and sustained, including: arrangements with National Disability Fund; user registration fees; interest from loans; and fees for services. The costs and how to finance the services are still under consideration.

Photo of Chelsea Takamine

Marvin Tumbo - I thought you might be interested in reading this idea!

Photo of Marvin Tumbo

Thank you Chelsea :-). This is very interesting. We can explore a partnership to see how we can make the digital learning space we are providing friendlier to the disabled, especially the blind. Rose Acock we can discuss this further.

Photo of Rose Acock

Hi Marvin, Chelsea,
Thanks for your comments. This does seem a good fit. We look forward to discussing with you further. We realise that our idea will need a lot of on-line resources for people with different types of disabilities therefore this will be a key consideration in the creation of the hub online materials.

Photo of Chelsea Takamine

Rose Acock - Great work! If you're interested, check out this winning idea from our Youth Empowerment challenge: