Disability and entrepreneurship: Factors that influence the entrepreneurial intentions of visually impaired students at the Machakos technical institute for the blind
In recent times, there has been a marked trend by the government of Kenya to champion entrepreneurship as the solution to the runaway unemployment rate and the subsequent poverty thereof. The emphasis to this end has been on encouraging entrepreneurial uptake by the majority youth population and marginalized womenfolk. However of concern to this research was the scant nature of research in Kenya among the visually impaired (VI) in institutions of higher learning on matters of entrepreneurship, while they member the rank and file of both the youth and marginalized women. In a bid to address this knowledge gap, as the purpose of this project, the researcher set out to study the factors that affect entrepreneurial intent among VI tertiary level students at the Machakos Technical Institute for the blind. It being the only one of its kind serving the East and Central African region. Apart from its singular status, the rationale to carry out the study here was also informed by the fact that as a tertiary level institution the students therein would be at the pinnacle of education and thus would soon have to make career choices. Towards the fulfillment of the above stated purpose of research several objectives were pursued, namely;-Documentation/profiling of the socio-demographic characteristics of the visually impaired students at the institution .Assessment of the students’ attitude towards entrepreneurship as a career choice. Examination of the entrepreneurial intention of the students and establishment of the relationship between their social capital and entrepreneurial intentions .Finally, the assessment of the levels of awareness among the students of the various government entrepreneurship support services and agencies. The study was conducted using a survey research design, with the research using a combination of convenience and snowballing sampling to draw a sample of 22 student respondents which is over a quarter of the college population present during the research period and an additional 6 key informants drawn from the non teaching and administrative staff. Data was obtained through interviewer administered questionnaires and a key informants schedule. Data collected was analyzed through descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages using ms excel and results represented in charts, graphs and tables. The research findings were that VI students at the institution exhibited a very positive attitude towards entrepreneurship and a correspondingly high likelihood of intent to take up entrepreneurship. However, there was also noted a weak relationship between the students’ social capital and their entrepreneurial intent, which in a sense validated the research conceptual frame work which had cast social capital as an intervening variable. A very low awareness of government entrepreneurial support agencies and services among our respondents was also revealed. Some of the key recommendations are that government should undertaken sensitization campaigns in institutions of special needs to create awareness on its various agencies and the services they offer in support of entrepreneurial activities. A study to establish the adequacy of the instructors’ training on matters entrepreneurship should be conducted in light of them handling such a special group of persons exhibiting strong intentions to enterprise.