OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Community hub with Wheelchair/Cycle repair center owned by persons with disabilities

Community hub with wheelchair/cycle repair centers along with small refreshment shops will be established in local level by empowering PWDs.

Photo of National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled
8 4

Written by

What problem does your idea solve?

We have been distributing about 1000 wheelchairs every year in different parts of Nepal. However because of the lack of a proper wheelchair repair center in user's locality even a minor mechanical problem arose in wheelchair compels the user to seek a new wheelchair. We will help interested users to start a wheelchair (with cycle) repair center at their locality by providing them necessary skills and resources. It will not only solve the above problem but will help them economically as well.

Explain your idea

When it comes to contributing something to persons with disabilities, the first thing that any organization or even individual thinks of is distributing wheelchairs. Our organization in association with our donors have been distributing almost a thousand wheelchairs every year in different part of the country. We do this by following the WHO guideline and completing a proper user assessment test. The wheelchair provided by us have definitely helped persons with disabilities to be mobile in their life. Nevertheless, there comes certain challenges with wheelchairs. There are not any specific wheelchair repair center locally and most cycle repair shows don't even look at wheelchairs. Because of this; we will have to focus on providing wheelchairs to the existing users again and again and we will not be able to provide such support to new users in new areas. So we will identify the interested person with disability (among our past beneficiary) in different part of the country who can contribute some resources himself and help him establish a wheelchair repair shop. And since if they only repair wheelchair their business will be less and since the parts for wheelchair and cycle mostly overlap we will equip them to repair cycle also. This way, other wheelchairs users in the area can have their wheelchair repaired at this center and the owner, who is a person with disability himself, will be economically independent by running this center.

Who benefits?

Primary beneficiary will be the users who will show their interest and contribute some resource to establish the center. They will be small business owner after this program. Other beneficiary will be other wheelchair users in the area who can now easily have their wheelchair repaired. Other general people will also take slight benefit by having their cycle repair locally. We are also thinking of starting a local refreshment shop along side repair center, so community be also benefited.

How is your idea unique?

Our idea is unique because it not only solves the problem of wheelchair maintenance in local level but also make persons with disabilities economically strong. Because of these wheelchair repairing center, wheelchair will last longer and we will not have to worry about giving wheelchairs to same users again and again and focus on new areas and new users. Since our idea also requires the users to contribute part of resource require themselves, it will make them serious and take ownership of this program. This will also be an unique approach as they will not feel that some NGO is coming and doing this for us as it is the case most of the time. Our idea of not establishing repairing center ourselves but helping them to start those center will make the persons with disabilities more confident about their life and will serve as an example to the local people as small business owners. We are also thinking of starting a small refreshment shop along side the repair center which is unique.

Tell us more about you

Our organization is legally registered non profit organization. We have two main programs. Skills development training for persons with disabilities and wheelchair distribution program. Every year we provide trainings like computer, sewing cutting, wheelchair assessment and wheelchair repair to around 70 persons. Also in coordination with local partner, we distribute about 1000 wheelchairs in different parts of Nepal.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

In our feedback phase, some of our participants said they have never saw someone in a wheelchair doing the repairing himself/herself because it might be hard for them to come down from a wheelchair and start repairing wheelchairs. However, we also saw some wheelchair users (who are our beneficiary) said that if they participate in this program, they can definitely do the repairing themselves. So we are thinking now if we should only include wheelchairs users as our primary clients for this idea or to expand the list to people having other disabilities, including people with hearing impairment"? This is a question that we are exploring now.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Nepal

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?

We changed the project based on the feedback phase in following ways: 1. We have considered expanding our client circle by not only including wheelchair users as our beneficiary but also those having other kinds of disability. We did this because we found that not all wheelchair users can come down of their chairs to do the repair work. 2. In the technical training that will take place during the inception phase of our project, we will also provide business skills class and wheelchair assessment class to our participants. This is because in our feedback session, participants shared that there is not much business only on repairing center. So we thought of starting a small grocery type store right beside the repairing center so that it will be kind of community hub. The business they learn in training will be useful in this. 3. We will advocate for the employment of our participants in existing cycle repair centers. This will ensure we can provide training to many and get them job

Who will implement this idea?

Our organization will implement this idea. Based on the resource we have we will select the sites where we will establish such community hub with repair centers. At least a full time staff is needed for overall management of this project. The staff will be central contact person and will often travel to these centers to support the idea. Our local partners will help us identify our beneficiaries.

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?

Our chairman is main executive body of this organization. He can make any level of decision of this organization with just slight consultation with the board. The board is also relatively small and consist of only 7 members. Our chairman is fully committed to this idea, so making changes according to the need of this idea will not be that hard.

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

Because of Amplify model, we learned about human centered design and also empathetic approach to see our beneficiaries. Also Amplify model provided us some really valuable resource to get the feedback from our users and reflect upon the project design based on those feedback.

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?

1) Biggest individual level challenge is that people using wheelchairs don't have a wheelchair repair center in their locality. Another challenge is that most of people with disabilities are economically deprived because of not being able to participate in economic activity like jobs or business. 2) Biggest system level challenge is that- there is no guideline or proper directive from the government to distribute wheelchairs. It is done randomly by various organization on their own. Because of this; users dont get wheelchairs according to their body structure and also the terrain of the place they live is not provided.

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 aim to establish community 35 hub with wheelchair repair center in all 7 provinces of Nepal (5 in each province) so that each hub will provide direct economic opportunity at least two persons with disabilities and indirect support to many others in the form of cycle/wheelchair repair. QUESTION: How to we make this idea sustainable and replicable beyond the project funding.

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

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

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:

  • Under $50,000 USD

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

We are currently in the process of building a website. You can read about our work here: https://www.ldscharities.org/news/wheelchairs-distribution-nepal

8 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled 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.

What experts shared for is this idea desirable, feasible and viable?
One expert shared, “This definitely has potential to be very valuable! Some important challenges to consider are: How are you ensuring repair of the various types/models that are distributed? How might you make this model sustainable (for example some models and obtaining spare parts can be expensive)? I like the use of artisans with disabilities as it helps employment and they act as a role model for wheelchair users etc. Have you considered making local chairs with local resources?”

How does this idea consider user needs?
• Can you share with us more specifics about the users needs now, and how you will continue to gain user insight and perspective throughout this process?
• Some additional considerations from experts were: How do you make sure you have chairs that are appropriate to users needs and local terrain?

Some questions to think about:
• How might you manage donation and distribution operations in an effective and efficient manner?
• With your pilot how many parts / tools were given to the artisan as a foundation for their businesses? What did you learn?
• Are there wheelchair sites in the area they could encourage to use and made sure their chairs were repairable with appropriate tools and parts?

Thanks for sharing the important work you are doing!

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: http://ideo.to/DXld5g 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 amplify@ideo.org

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled
Team

Thanks OpenIDEO for your comment and sharing users feedback as well. We are very happy to know that experts thought that our idea has a lot of potential to be valuable. We also think that if executed and implemented properly this idea will solve two problems at one time - unemployment and unavailability for wheelchair repair centers in local level.

We will try to answer all of your questions one by one.

1) How are you ensuring repair of the various types/models that are distributed?
There are not many types of wheelchair that are distributed in our country. We know this because we are the main distributor of wheelchairs in Nepal. We provide wheelchair even for the government agencies to distribute. Many wheelchair users in Nepal use same kind of wheelchairs (i.e. Standard Wheelchairs and Rough Riders). We import the parts of these wheelchairs while we import the wheelchairs, so we can be sure that we will ensure the repair of all kinds of wheelchair. Also the rough rider wheelchair uses a lot of parts that are used in cycle, and is normally available.

2) How might you make this model sustainable (for example some models and obtaining spare parts can be expensive)?
Because the distributed wheelchairs and its parts are not of many kinds, we will ensure the import of the parts in regular intervals to provide to the repair center (in nominal cost). We have also change our idea to start a small shop to sell simple items like water, noodles, tea etc (like a road side eatery) along with repair center. We have a plan to make this repair center a hub for people to come and gather etc. So because of this we think that , this model will sustainable as the business will grow and they will keep doing this work.

3) Have you considered making local chairs with local resources?
Until now we have not considered making local chairs. However, we know a organization called @Independent Living Center for Persons with Disabilities in Kathmandu (CIL-Kathmandu), who have started to make some number of wheelchair locally. We will work with them so that our repair center have access to spare part for those local chairs as well.

4) Can you share with us more specifics about the users needs now, and how you will continue to gain user insight and perspective throughout this process?
We aim to solve two of the most important need that a wheelchair users have. Economic Independence and Mobility Independence. There are not many employment opportunities for wheelchair users/persons with disabilities in local level currently. So that is main need for them to become financially independent. Also there is not even a single wheelchair repair center and if their wheelchair breaks down; it is very hard for them to achieve mobility independence.

Our organization has many local partners who have helped us in distributing the wheelchairs previously to persons with disabilities. We will gain users insight about this idea even after implementation with the help of these local partners. We will keep changing our models to accommodate the users need.

4. How do you make sure you have chairs that are appropriate to users needs and local terrain?
We have wheelchair assessment guideline. Our guideline is based on one developed by World Health Organization. We never donate a chair to anyone without doing a proper assessment. This assessment ensures that the user gets a wheelchair that best suits his need.
Also we provide rough riders wheelchair in terrains which are somewhat rough and not very smooth. Also we provide tricycles where publc transport are not friendlier for people with disabilities ; so that they can travel longer distance on thsoe tricycles.

We also have plans to train the repair center owners (artisans) on the wheelchair assessment tool. So that they can also conduct such assessment in the local level and send those assessment results to us to make our donation more effective.

Thank you!

Photo of Sightsavers
Team

Nice idea, simple and effective! It provides a potential solution to a practical issue (the need to repair the wheelchairs) with a component of economic empowerment, aiming at a sustainable approach. The idea of focusing also on bicycles is particularly interesting, as it opens a much larger potential market, and can contribute to create a connection between people with and without disabilities.

Besides providing technical skills on cycle and wheelchair maintenance and repairing, will you also build their capacity around financial literacy and business skills?

Have you considered the possibility to train people with disabilities and then to advocate for their employment within existing cycle services and businesses?

All the best with your project!

Photo of National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled
Team

Thanks a lot Sightsavers. Yes, we included cycle for the same particular reasons that we wanted to increase our customers base (not only those using wheelchairs but also those using cycles.) and also as you highlighted it becomes a hub for connection between persons with and without disabilities.

We will have a training session before the start of actual repair center. And you highlighted that training will certainly have sessions on financial literacy and also entrepreneurship skills beside core technical skills. We have plans to help them start a small shop in one corner of their repair center that would sell quick food items like tea, bottled water, noodles etc. The reason for this is again, we want to create these centers as some kind of economic hub in that area run by people with disabilities. This will create a certain change in the perception towards people with disability in the community.

Coming to your last query, we had not thought about advocating for their employment within existing cycle repair centers but this might certainly seem like an idea we might want to pursue in our project. What we can do on the repair center is operation, the owner can then give repair training to other people with disability in the community and we/supporting organization can then start advocating for the employment of these trained people in existing repair center.
Also there is another exciting project by our friends at National Federation of the Disabled Nepal which is titled Get Hired! - Employment Support Program for Youth with Disabilities. We can also take their help in finding employment for those who take training in our programs.

Photo of Trust Mutekwa
Team

Great work taking place in Nepal. There is a lot to learn. Wheelchair repairs centralised and run by persons with disabilities, we have a strong statement on empowerment there. Thanks a lot.

Photo of National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled
Team

Thank you Trust Mutekwa. We will certainly need your guidance to make this a reality. So please feel free to suggest any feedback on our project.

Photo of Sharmini Constantinescu
Team

Great idea, bringing about so many positive outcomes such as empowering local economy, facilitating economic independence for wheelchair users who would run the workshops, provision of access to services for wheelchair users by eliminating the risk of using unsafe equipment and much more. All the best!

Photo of National Rehabilitation Society for the Disabled
Team

Thank you Sharmini Constantinescu. We are trying to solve two problems here. One is the providing a local repair shop for wheelchair which is run by person with disabilities themselves. Another is economic empowerment of persons with disabilities by successfully running those repair shop. We are thinking of also giving some entrepreneurial skills in our wheelchair repair training to our participant so that s/he can not only open the wheelchair/cycle repair shop but also start selling items like water, cold drinks, noodles, from the same shop so it becomes a economic hub (small) locally and is more sustainable.