Document Type



University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Self-employment has several advantages for an individual with a disability, such as the flexibility to accommodate the person's disability, social and economic empowerment, and a non-discriminatory employment environment. However, without access to capital, these strengths cannot be realized. The Action Summer for the Advancement of Capital Access to Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (Capital Access Summit) facilitated the development of strategies and collaborations to promote access to capital for business owners with disabilities. The Capital Access Summit gathered 50 representatives from across the country to identify cross-cutting issues and make recommendations for promoting continued progress in self-employment of people with disability. Participants represented a wide variety of agencies and organizations including vocal rehabilitation, microenterprise, foundations, disability advocacy, research, and ferderal participants learned from each other and collaborated to identify barriers, best practices, and recommendations for future discussions and action steps. Capital Access Summit activities included three brief presentations to provide an overview of capital access for people with disabilities, and a presentation by two business owners with disabilities on their experiences with funding their businesses. The working part of the meeting consisted of three breakout sessions. The first breakout session split summit participants into three affinity groups on programmatic area of focus: micro-enterprise, disability, and agency/policy. Each affinity group was guided by a facilitator. Participants discussed best practices, problems encountered, and methods to facilitate accessing capital. The second breakout session also split summit participants into three groups, each with balanced representations from all agencies, organizations, and interests so participants could learn about issues encountered in other program arenas. Facilitated discussions focused on programmatic issues related to capital access. The emphasis was on specific characteristics of the entrepreneur, such as the impacts of receiving social program dollars (e.g., Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Income, or Medicaid), participation in youth and adult services, rural versus urban locations, personal finances and financial literacy, and type of disability. Lead facilitator, Jason Friedman, synthesized comments from the first two breakout sessions. Mr. Friedman provided a condensed overview of (a) positive examples of programs, policies, and resources that facilitate capital access for people with disabilities; (b) existing issues and barriers, and (c) initial ideas or recommendations to move the capital access agenda forward. This synopsis provided the framework for the last breakout session, which split participants back into their original affinity groups. The final breakout sessions focused discussion on the initial ideas or recommendations and how to implement them within the programs and organizations represented. The final meeting included all participants. During the meeting, each affinity group reported possible next steps or issues of particular importance for future discussions. At the conclusion of the metting, participants were recruited to form a coalition to promote the capital access agenda through continued discussion, collaboration building, action planning, and expansion to additional partners. The following report presents participants' discussions and recommendations.


employment and vocational rehabilitation, self-employment, entrepreneurs, rural, disability


© 2006, The University of Montana, Rural Institute: Center for Excellence in DisabilityEducation, Research and Service

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


The Summit was supported in part by the two grants from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research: H133G000189-02 and H133B030501.

Project Number

HI33G000189-02; H133B030501