Micro-enterprise support with Barkuma

8th September, 2023

We plan to offer micro-enterprise support as a new employment option for our clients as part of our new strategy.

This will be in addition to supported employment in Barkuma Commercial Services, and support in open employment via Disability Employment Service (DES).

The micro-enterprise initiative helps people with intellectual disabilities start and manage their own affordable businesses.

By focusing on a person’s interests and strengths, clients will be supported to identify marketable skills and develop a business plan.

This process allows individuals to have greater control and flexibility over their work, deciding on the type of work they want to do, the amount of money they earn, their working hours and the location.

What is a micro-enterprise?

A micro-enterprise is a tiny business that doesn’t need a lot of money or many people to run. It could be just one person or a small team. Micro-enterprises are very flexible and focus on local needs.

They don’t require a big investment upfront. Examples of micro-enterprises include small shops, artists, specialist services and online stores. They let individuals use their skills and interests to generate income and contribute to the local economy.

How will it work?

Barkuma will develop a training program that recognises the importance of a personalised approach, tailoring to individuals’ interests, skills and qualities. We aim to collaborate with existing programs, such as Rapid Enterprise Development, which provides support for developing micro-business ideas. Mentorship from individuals operating their own micro-enterprises is also a valuable element to support and guide those starting their businesses.

Is micro-enterprise suitable for me?

To ensure the success of micro-enterprises, Barkuma will work with clients to identify viable markets in the local community and online. While engaging in micro-enterprise offers more choice and control, it also comes with added responsibilities. Individuals need to have a marketable idea, be self-starters and understand that initial income may only cover costs. It is important to have a circle of support, including family networks, to assist in the governance of these small businesses.

What are the benefits of having your own micro-enterprise?

Creating your own business that uses your strengths and knowledge can have a number of benefits, including:

  • sense of purpose and future
  • contributing to your community
  • increased self-esteem and quality of life
  • enjoying a larger social network
  • having a job
  • creating employment for others
  • having a secure income


What are examples of micro-enterprise?

Barkuma’s community is full of talented people with skills and useful knowledge of their special interests.

Simon Rowberry, CEO of Barkuma, expresses excitement about the possibilities, stating, “Many of our clients possess marketable skills and interests that we can monetize, making micro-enterprise a viable alternative to traditional employment. It provides an opportunity for them to contribute to society while having more control over their working lives.”

Examples of micro-enterprise include:

  • advocacy
  • public speaking
  • website development
  • software consultancy
  • pottery
  • artwork
  • Household tasks
  • courier service
  • gardening
  • car washing
  • dance tuition
  • administration


Micro-enterprise and the broader community

Supporting a micro-enterprise run by a person with an intellectual disability brings numerous benefits to the local community. It promotes inclusivity, diversity and provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to actively contribute to the local economy.

By supporting their business, the community creates employment opportunities, boosts financial independence and challenges stereotypes about disabilities. Micro-enterprises have the potential to add variety to local products and services, fostering a vibrant marketplace and encouraging innovation. Ultimately, supporting these enterprises strengthens community bonds and helps everyone by including them economically.

Case Study

Kirkman by Melissa Kirkman is an exciting and vibrant example of a micro-enterprise. Melissa, a Barkuma client, is a talented painter who has transferred her passion into her own online store. Melissa’s website contains her range of art-printed t-shirts, a point of sale for purchases, and visitors can learn about Melissa and her art, and link to her social media accounts.

Watch this space!
As we progress with our plan to support micro-enterprise opportunities for our clients, we will share opportunities to incubate your ideas!