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Disabilities can exacerbate poverty by increasing the costs incurred by a household for care and treatment, and negatively impacting earnings if the person with disability is dependent on others for day-to-day support. In turn, living in poverty can increase the likelihood of disability due to hazardous living and working conditions, inadequate access to treatment, and malnutrition, especially in childhood. However, people with disabilities are underrepresented in development programs.

CEMREST has estimated that existing development programs reach a mere 3 to 4% of people with disabilities. For financial services, the situation is particularly dire: it is estimated that less than 1% of the poor served by microfinance organizations are people with disabilities.

 Extremely poor families that include a member with a disability face enormous economic challenges as access to affordable services, support and education can be beyond reach. Often, looking after a family member with a disability can require the time and support of someone who otherwise would be earning.

 Furthermore, physical challenged often face stigma and are socially isolated within their communities, thus compounding the challenges of living in poverty. In this context CEMREST is providing opportunities for people with disabilities to build sustainable livelihoods both strengthens the economic base of the family and helps to break down prejudices and build social connections