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The 6E Strategy at Ikkaido: Entrepreneurship

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

5. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is notoriously difficult to define. To try and solve this, older studies brought together experts in order to come to a consensus on what entrepreneurship actually is. These demonstrated that the most common association with entrepreneurship was the starting of a new venture that generates some kind of value, which can be for or not for profit (Ronstadt et al. 1986, William B Gardner, 1990). Innovation was also ranked as an important aspect of entrepreneurship, alongside setting up and running a business.

More recent articles recognise that entrepreneurship is about more than just the generation of economic value, but instead value to society.

Participants during one of Ikkaido's entrepreneurship workshops.

Why is Inclusive Entrepreneurship Important?

People from marginalized communities in the UK and in Europe are far more likely to be unemployed. Research shows that:

  • People with basic activity difficulties in the EU are twice as likely to be unemployed. (Eurostat, 2011)

  • People with disabilities in the UK are nearly a third less likely to be employed. (Office for National Statistics, 2019)

  • Those who come to England seeking asylum are 22% more likely to be unemployed than those born in the UK. (The Migration Observatory,

  • Women, especially those from migrant backgrounds or with disabilities, are far more likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts in the UK and the EU (The Migration Observatory,

Learning in entrepreneurship equips people with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to take control of their financial situation. Therefore, it is an extremely effective solution to the high unemployment rates of socially excluded people. If taught in an accessible and inclusive way, people with disabilities and disadvantages can learn how to manage and set up a business, as well as developing competencies in financial literacy and financial management.

Participants in EmployABLE working on their entrepreneurial skillset.

What are the Barriers to Entrepreneurship amongst Disabled and Disadvantaged People?

Lack of Education

A substantial amount of evidence points to the positive correlation between educational attainment and entrepreneurial success. People with basic activity difficulties in the EU and UK are twice as likely to leave school early as those without (Eurostat, 2014). Jimenez et al. (2015) demonstrate that lower and secondary education increases the likelihood of entrepreneurial success due to improved self-esteem and human capital. Estrin et al (2016) found that higher levels of education are particularly relevant to the development and identification of social entrepreneurial initiatives. This demonstrates that the likelihood of entrepreneurial participation decreases from a very early age amongst disabled people, and that inclusive education and qualifications be available to young people with disabilities.

Lack of Confidence

The perceptions of a successful entrepreneur and the perceptions that people with disabilities have of themselves are considerably different. In their research, Cooney (2008) noted that people with disabilities often do not associate themselves with the identity of an entrepreneur. This highlights a lack of confidence amongst people with disabilities in regards to entrepreneurial activities and suggests that initiatives that seek to impart entrepreneurial skills to people with disabilities should also inspire self-esteem (OECD, 2017).

Lack of Accessibility and Inclusion

One of the main barriers to participation in entrepreneurship for people with disabilities is that support and advice for those seeking to become entrepreneurs are not provided in a way that is accessible and inclusive to them (Maria Wishart, 2018).

Seemingly most apparent is that there are no courses and qualifications that are fully inclusive to all socially excluded people that provide learning in entrepreneurship and inspire people to develop an entrepreneurial spirit. People from migrant backgrounds face language barriers that impede their access to support in becoming entrepreneurs. Taking into account the importance of education in entrepreneurial success, it is critical that more accessible education programmes are made available for disabilities, and translatable into all languages for those from migrant backgrounds.

What do we do?

Empowerment, Vitality and Assertiveness - Female Education through Mentoring (EVA-FEM) was a series of Erasmus+ projects that brought together over 600 young women and girls with and without disabilities from backgrounds of forced migration, sex trafficking, prostitution, disadvantage and poverty. Participants worked together to explore the issues that were causing them to become socially excluded and suffer from poor well-being in their home countries. Through SWOT and SMART analyses, coupled with empowering and confidence-building activities, they developed innovative, community-led solutions to these pressing issues. They realised that they were more than capable of taking control of their lives and improving the lives of others; that they were in fact better placed to do this than anyone else. Several participants expressed the desire to create their own NGO's to implement their initiatives, and IKKAIDO continues to mentor them in order to develop these projects into reality.

EVA-FEM participants.

"You have inspired me to change my life - I want to thank you for that," said K, a participant from EVA-FEM. Currently, she leads a group of young people to develop non-formal education-based solutions to bullying, fake news, extremism, intolerance and exclusion. She hopes to create and manage her own NGO.

"You have inspired me to change my life - I want to thank you for that." ~ K, EVA-FEM Participant

Education improves the chances of entrepreneurial success. We embed entrepreneurial soft skills into the learning of all of our qualifications, including:

  • Critical Thinking

  • Time Management

  • Planning

  • Communication

  • Self-Confidence

  • Self-Motivation

All qualifications contain modules on what inclusion is and why it is important. Through this, we inspire people to become advocates for positive social change.

Alongside the development of an entrepreneurial spirit, IKKAIDO also develops and participates in projects that improve the entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and competencies of marginalised people:

IN TOUCH is an ongoing project that addresses the lack of participation of all marginalised young people in entrepreneurship. During the project, 60 participants with disabilities and fewer opportunities take part in accessible and engaging learning activities that improve the theoretical understanding of entrepreneurship, whilst providing practical avenues to implement their knowledge (developing and pitching business plans etc.) Comprised of eight partners working in the fields of inclusion, inclusive education and inclusive entrepreneurship, IN TOUCH will produce a Europe-wide collection of examples of best practice in inclusion and entrepreneurship. This will serve as a guide for any organisation that wishes to help people who are socially excluded to participate in entrepreneurship. The project will also improve the ability of partners to impart entrepreneurial teaching to a more diverse range of participants.

"We are very excited to set up our business!" - J, an In Touch participant that came up with the idea of creating a cafe for people with disabilities in their community.

Financial Literacy for Women through Game-Based Learning (FINANCIALIT4WOMEN) will produce the first-ever curriculum specifically designed to help women to gain control, independence and a better understanding of financial management. All learning materials are fundamentally based on learning-by-doing in order to create a more fun and accessible experience. The curriculum will be accompanied by a board game, a handbook of role play games that teach financial literacy, a digital game and an app.

The materials in both projects will be available in multiple European languages, particularly languages of countries that experience the highest discrepancy in migrant employment. They are also fully inclusive and accessible to all disabilities, genders and backgrounds.

M's Entrepreneurial Journey

Throughout the journey that M took with Ikkaido, she was empowered to realise her potential; to become the driving force of change in her life and her community. The projects provided theoretical entrepreneurial knowledge in a way that was accessible to her. Having realised the importance of accessible sport throughout her life from an early age, she was driven to teach people with all kinds of disabilities and fewer opportunities in order to improve their quality of life, too. Currently, she teaches physical education to children and young people with all kinds of disabilities.

M pictured in 2018 after winning UK Disability Coach of the Year.


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