Journeys of micro-entrepreneurs with intellectual disability: An inclusive research perspective

Dr Katherine Moore1, Mr Alan Duffy2, Mr Craig McAllister2, Ms Susan Harbottle2, Ms Annie Rolfe1

1QUT, Brisbane, Australia, 2Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative (NCEC), Nundah, Australia

Entrepreneurship and self-employment create opportunities for people with intellectual disability to become socially and economically included in their local community and promote individuals to embrace innovation and creativity to shape meaningful work for themselves. Yet little research has explored experiences of micro-entrepreneurs with intellectual disability in Australia and internationally. Guided by the question: “how do micro-entrepreneurs with intellectual disability navigate their entrepreneurial journey?”, this inclusive research project sought to gain understanding of the drivers and barriers faced by these entrepreneurs during the various stages of their business planning and operations.

The research used the collaborative group approach to inclusive research with people with intellectual disability, whereby the research team included three micro-entrepreneurs with intellectual disability as co-researchers. The methodology allowed the co-researchers to share their stories as micro-entrepreneurs, then to help the other six participants to share their stories of being micro-entrepreneurs.

The narrative analysis of the interviews informed a model that shows the evolving processes involved in planning, working in and expanding a micro-business, and the important roles that personal skills and attributes, financial resources, formal and informal support, and motivation play in the journeys of micro-entrepreneurs with intellectual disability.

The model developed from the research provides insight into the supporting and challenging mechanisms involved in planning and managing a micro-business for current and aspiring entrepreneurs with intellectual disability, their families and advocates. The findings also contribute to the literature in the areas of micro-entrepreneurship and inclusive research conducted by people with intellectual disability.


Dr Moore, QUT Business School, researches how the changing landscape of work will affect the employability of people with cognitive and neurological impairments. Mr Duffy, Mr McAllister and Ms Harbottle are the project co-researchers and members of the Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative. Ms Rolfe is the project research assistant, QUT.