Taking control as an entrepreneur

With a goal of promoting the value, potential and inclusion for all two UTS academics have set out set out to get people with disabilities ‘engaged and employed’. With industry partners directly involved in a collaborative and hands on way the research will map where the current entrepreneurs with disabilities are and what sort of businesses they are in.

In 2016 the UTS Business School secured a Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council to conduct a study with partners in the disability services sector around people with disabilities taking control by becoming entrepreneurs.

“People with a disability have a rate of entrepreneurship 50 per cent higher than the Australian average, according to a 2012 Australian Bureau Of Statistics survey, yet we know very little about their story – the barriers they have faced, the strategies they have used to overcome these barriers, the dynamics of their business enterprises and the economic and social contribution they make,” said Professor Jock Collins, one of the chief investigators on the project.

The partners on the project include not-for-profit group Settlement Services International, National Disability Services and Break Thru People Solutions.

Ross Lewis, Managing director of Break Thru People Solutions–an organisation that partners with employers to place workers with a disability—acknowledges the importance of this research in shining a light on the valued role of entrepreneurship to combat “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Professor Simon Darcy the other chief investigator on the research project–himself a power wheelchair user–believes individuals will be empowered by the outcomes of the research. By putting entrepreneurship on the agenda the idea of taking control of one’s own life and creating one’s own employment opportunities becomes a viable option.

“Entrepreneurship for people with a disability is really about creating your own opportunities” says Professor Darcy, “It is a watershed time for people with disabilities to control their own destinies.”

Photo by Nathan Rodger
Adapted from an article by Lesley Parker. Last updated December 9, 2016