Perspectives on people with intellectual disabilities as business owners

Claire Hutchinson, Kiri Lay, June Alexander, Julie Ratcliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Microenterprise is emerging as an employment pathway for people with intellectual disabilities, but there is little published research in this area. OBJECTIVE: To identify the facilitators, barriers and outcomes from microenterprises owned by people with intellectual disabilities from several stakeholder perspectives. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven business owners and 22 other stakeholders with data analysed using content analysis. RESULTS: A key facilitator for successful microenterprise was the availability of, and continued access to, three pillars of formal support (microenterprise consultant, personal assistant, and an enterprise management group). Key barriers identified were funding limitations, role confusion between supports, and problems recruiting supports with business skills. Outcomes for business owners included personal/emotional growth, skills development, autonomy, having a meaningful role, and contributing to their communities. Other stakeholders experienced personal rewards and an increased expectation of the capacities of people with intellectual disabilities. Income generation and cessation of benefits was not the goal of the model or noted as a main consideration by stakeholders. CONCLUSIONS: Microenterprise can provide people with intellectual disabilities with an employment pathway highly tailored to their goals, capacities and interests. With consistent formal support, people with intellectual disabilities can run businesses over many years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-163
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022


  • formal support
  • informal support
  • Microenterprise
  • people with intellectual disabilities
  • qualitative


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