Livelihoods

Power promotes livelihoods and employment for men and women with disabilities.

Well-paid, productive work is the most basic of human needs. Yet it is denied to millions of people with disabilities in poor countries because of exclusion from education, from services such as micro finance, and because of systematic and widespread discrimination in the context of employment. Where people with disabilities do gain employment they are frequently subjected to poor working conditions and disproportionately low pay.


People with disabilities have huge capacity to engage in economic activities given the necessary (and often minimal) supports, and there is a consistent and overwhelming demand  for economic development initiatives to escape poverty and dependency, to give them self-esteem and because it is critical to economic and social integration with their communities.



POWER believes in inclusive approaches to economic empowerment and has spent four years fully testing livelihoods creation projects in Malawi and Zambia. What is evident from this work is that:
  • the collective experience for people with disabilities is one of sustained exclusion across all sectors and the consequent widely held perception that people with people with disabilities are unable to contribute positively to rural socio-economic development;
  • unless specific programmes are developed to ensure that people with disabilities are included, then, even if there is growing investment in rural development in southern Africa, inevitably people with disabilities will by default be excluded;
  • livelihoods creation for people with disabilities are the real catalyst for change that allows the cycle of poverty to be broken and ensures that families achieve food security, that children can start attending school and that people with disabilities can be seen to both achieve personally and contribute to their communities;
  • even where microfinance programmes exist with mandates to reach the poor, most have been unable to establish the frameworks to engage men and women with disabilities successfully.
  • Disabled people lack access to employment opportunities and disability-based discrimination in the employment context constitutes one of the most pervasive and insidious forms of discrimination faced by persons with disabilities.

Our pilot programmes are now moving in to a new phase of development as POWER and its partners develop long term in-country and regional partnerships with micro-finance and other institutions.

Program Details
More information on POWER’s economic empowerment programmes can be found by clicking on the relevant programmes listed below: 

  • Malawi Rural Savings and Loan Programme (MRSLP)
  • Zambia: Disability Economic Empowerment Programme (DEEP)
  • Zambia: Business investment unit for disabled people (BIUD)
  • Lao PDR: Improving livelihoods for people with disabilities, especially women, through peer training. (ILPD)