People with intellectual disabilities as business owners: A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature

Claire Hutchinson, Kiri Lay, June Alexander, Julie Ratcliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Microenterprises are very small businesses requiring little capital and can be an employment pathway for people with intellectual disabilities. This systematic review aims to identify the facilitators, barriers and outcomes from microenterprise. Method: Web of Science, Scopus, EconLit, PsycINFO and ProQuest were searched to identify peer-reviewed studies on microenterprises owned by people with intellectual disability published up to and including 1 October 2019. Results: A total of 1080 papers were independently screened by two reviewers. Six papers met the inclusion criteria. Barriers included lack of access to business expertise and resources, and the tension between growing microenterprises and maintaining eligibility for welfare payments. Formal and informal supports were key facilitators. Outcomes experienced included additional income, skills development, increased confidence and engagement in meaningful activities. Conclusion: Additional research is required to develop an evidence base which may support investment in this employment pathway, making microenterprise more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-470
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • disability employment
  • individualised approaches
  • intellectual disability
  • microenterprise
  • person-centred
  • self-employment


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