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We should look at working together! Action on Poverty

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).

Barriers
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.

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.


Hypotheses:

- 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.