Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities

Source: Lucy Lazarony

Have an idea for your own business?

Abilitiesfund.org is dedicated to helping stroke survivors and other people with disabilities become entrepreneurs.

The Abilities Fund is the first national non-profit organization and financial institution focused exclusively on expanding entrepreneurial opportunities, including access to capital, to people with disabilities.

The Abilities Fund, which was founded in 2000, provides financial products, training, and technical assistance, plus advisory support to the people with disabilities that they work with and the microenterprises they support.

What is a Microenterprise?

A microenterprise is a business with no more than five employees and start up costs of $35,000 or lower.

The Abilities Fund works specifically with people with disabilities who are interested in starting or expanding a microenterprise. The Abilities Fund also can assist business owners with capital needs below $35,000.  All services with The Abilities Fund are free.

Currently, the Ability Fund serves people with disabilities who are receiving services through Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, and Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Would-be entrepreneurs living outside of Nebraska can access the vast online library of resources for people with disabilities interested in starting their own business.

Resources

Resources for entrepreneurs on The Abilities Fund website include information on:

• Choosing a business idea and researching and testing the idea

• Business planning, including what you need to know about credit history

• How to stay afloat in a start-up

• Social Security benefits and self-employment

• Business structures and pricing strategies

You’ll also find information on microenterprise, microlending, networking and steps to staffing your firm and finding employees.

Of special attention for stroke survivors looking to start their own business is the impact a profitable business will have on their Social Security benefits.

The Abilities Fund recommends working with a Social Security Administration certified benefits planner as you develop your business plan.

Special rules, known as work incentives, make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income to work and still receive monthly payments and Medicare or Medicaid.

Boost Your Financial Education

To test and build your financial education, The Abilities Fund recommends completing Money Smart, an online training program from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation designed to enhance financial skills.

Another Funding Source

For entrepreneurs in search of an additional funding source to launch a new business, The Abilities Fund recommends reaching out to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.

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