Abilities FIRST

Microenterprise Coaching Program

Connecting self-employment to self-empowerment.

Abilities FIRST is a new coaching program designed to assist persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) create a micro-enterprise or self-employment opportunity.


Only 19% of persons with disabilities are employed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Microenterprises are emerging as an employment option for people with IDD, including those with the highest support needs. While some micro-enterprises have been created for people with disabilities, they are usually limited to those with parents or caregivers who have the business idea, the ability to support the idea financially, and the flexibility to do the day-to-day tasks.

Abilities FIRST helps people with IDD create and run their own viable businesses without relying solely on a parent or direct support person.  They do this through components such as:

  • Business Plan created including a Work Plan with daily tasks and matrix for measuring success.

  • Support finding sources for startup funding.

  • Tools or resources to support the microenterprise owners.

Interested in joining this program? Email Michelle Cates at michelle@firstwnc.org or call 828.277.1315 ext. 115 for more information.

Abilities FIRST Resources and Tools

Where can you buy from these Microenterprises?