Ivan Todorov

Petar Parvanov

Vladislav Krastev

Irina Atanasova

Sofiya Mirchova


Since the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1957, the organization’s primary goal has been to provide a socially acceptable standard of living for people. Social policy was defined in the Single European Act and the Social Charter adopted by the European Commission in 1989. The legal framework of the European Social Policy has been developed in two treaties – the Amsterdam Treaty and the Maastricht Treaty. These treaties emphasize the fight against unemployment, social exclusion and vocational training, with each country being obliged to conduct its social policy in line with that of the EU. EU social policy has been further expanded with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. Thanks to the common social policy of the countries of the European Union, social entrepreneurship has gained increased importance for the economic and social integration of people with disabilities.

Social entrepreneurship can help many people with disabilities to participate in the labor market and society. The approach used to support the participation of people with disabilities in the EU labor market encourages increased participation primarily through employment and less through self-employment or business creation. A common EU approach is to use employment quotas that require public and private organizations to employ a certain number or percentage of people with disabilities. Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom do not use this approach.

There are examples of policies that support self-employment and business creation for people with disabilities. These include the incorporation of self-employment into the general active labor market programs as well as schemes that support people with disabilities when setting up businesses. Areas where such policies can be developed are: Enhancing awareness of people with disabilities about entrepreneurship as a real and feasible option; Developing entrepreneurial skills; Support for the development, acquisition and use of aids and technologies; Ensuring access to appropriate financial support; Improving access to the Internet, information and telecommunication technologies, etc.

The main conclusions of the study are that business creation and self-employment are not suitable for all people with disabilities, there are several ways that policymakers can improve support for entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. The first approach is to examine proposals to support start-ups to ensure that they are available in accessible formats and to educate business advisors on the potential risks that create start-ups and self-employment for people with disabilities. A second area of action for governments is to support the development and adoption of assistive technologies. Third, there is evidence that support the development of targeted training and support tailored to the needs and problems of entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs with various disabilities.


Keywords: European Union Policies; Social Entrepreneurship; People with Disabilities

JEL Codes: A13, B55, L31


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


  1. Angelocci, R., Lacho, K. J., Lacho, K. D. and Galle, W. (2008), ‘Entrepreneurs with Disabilities: The Role of Assistive Technology, Current Status and Future Outlook’, Proceedings of the Academy of Entrepreneurship, 14(1), Tunica.

  2. Applica/CESEP/European Centre (2007), ‘Study of compilation of disability statistical data from the administrative registers of the Member States’, Study financed by DG Employment, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities,

  3. Arnold, N. and Ipsen, C. (2005), ‘Self-Employment Policies: Changes Through the Decade’, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, vol. 16(2), pp. 115–122.

  4. Boylan, A. and Burchardt, T. (2002), Barriers to Self-Employment for Disabled People, report for the Small Business Service, http://

  5. Christ, T. W. and Stodden, R. (2005), ‘Advantages of developing survey constructs when comparing educational supports offered to students with disabilities in postsecondary education’, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, vol. 22, pp. 23–31.

  6. Dotson, W., Richman, D., Abby, L. and Thompson, S. (2013), ‘Teaching Skills Related to Self-employment to Adults with Developmental Disabilities: An Analog Analysis’, Research in Developmental Disabilities, vol. 34, pp. 2336–2350.

  7. Doyel, A. (2002), ‘A realistic perspective of risk in self-employ employment for people with disabilities’, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, vol. 17, pp. 115–24.

  8. East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) (2009), ‘Scoping Study into the Business Support Needs of Disabled Entrepreneurs in the East Midlands’,

  9. Enabled4Enterprise (2008), ‘Barriers and Opportunities: Equipping the Enterprise Sector to Deliver “Disability Smart” Services’.

  10. Enabled4Enterprise (2009a), ‘Project Report: Equipping the Enterprise Sector to deliver “Disability Smart” Services’.

  11. Enabled4Enterprise (2009b), ‘Are You Disability Smart? How to Provide Effective Business Support to Disabled Entrepreneurs’.

  12. European Commission (2013), ‘Digital Agenda for Europe. Digital social platforms: web-accessibility’,

  13. Greve, B. (2009), ‘The labor market situation of disabled people in European countries and implementation of employment poli­cies: a summary of evidence from country reports and research studies’, report prepared for the Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED),

  14. Hanafin, J., Shevlin, M., Kenny, M. and McNeela, E. (2007), ‘Including young people with disabilities: Assessment challenges in higher education’, Higher Education, vol. 54, pp. 435–448.

  15. Nochajski, S. M., Oddo, C. and Beaver, K. (1999), ‘Technology and transition: Tools for success’, Technology and Disability, vol. 11, pp. 93–101.

  16. OECD/The European Commission (2013), The Missing Entrepreneurs: Policies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Europe, OECD Publishing,

  17. Pavey, B (2006), ‘Human Capital, Social Capital, Entrepreneurship and Disability: An Examination of Some Current Education Trends in UK’, Disability & Society, vol. 21(3), pp. 217–229.

  18. Ridley, J., Hunter, S. and Infusion Cooperative (2005), ‘Go for it!: Supporting People with Learning Disabilities and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Employment’, Health and Community Care Research Programmed, Research Findings No 45/05,

  19. Stack, J., Zarate, L., Pastor, C., Mathiassen, N. E., Barberà, R., Knops, H. and Kornsten, H. (2009), ‘Analysing and federating the European assistive technology ICT industry’, in Information society and media, prepared for the European Commission, pp. 20–65.

  20. United Nations (2008), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 9,

  21. W3C (2006), ‘Policies Relating to Web Accessibility’,

  22. Zwerling, C., Whitten, P. S., Sprince, N. L., Davis, C. S., Wallace, R. B., Blanck, P. and Heeringa, S. G. (2002), ‘Workplace accommoda­tions for people with disabilities: National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplement, 1994–1995’, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol. 45(5), pp. 517–525.