With the objective of ensuring that Women and men with disabilities have access to financial services, increased income and social protection, NUDIPU is implementing a Village Saving and Village Association – VSLA methodology of economic empowerment using a unique model known as iSAVE Economic Empowerment programme. Through this model, NUDIPU formed a cumulative total of 634 iSAVE Groups from 15 districts of operation which has seen many persons with disabilities realizing increased income levels, independent living, improved attitudes in participating in various community developmental opportunities as well as decision making platforms.
In the districts of; Mayuge, Moyo, Mpigi, Yumbe, Luuka, Kamuli, Iganga, Apac, Jinja, Buikwe, Adjumani, Oyam, Mityana, Moroto, Kotido, 2,419 iSAVE group members started income generating activities as a result of participating in the programme and 2,696 members had more than one source of income. Members; small scale enterprises included: Petrol stall, Poultry, Piggery, Vegetable, art and craft, welding among others This diversification has promoted resilience by members against changing and extreme livelihood conditions.
NUDIPU Linked a total of 66 iSAVE groups to social security programmes with in the districts of Kamuli, Iganga, Mityana, Apac and Oyam. The groups have benefited in government projects such as operation wealth creation (OWC), Disability grants and Community Driven developments at sub county level. This has improved their household income and boosted their participation towards self-development.
Following the success of the programme, many persons with disabilities have been economically empowered and have been able to sustain their livelihoods. Miria Kwelyowa a thirty year old resident of Luuka a mother of two has lived with a physical disability since she was born and narrates that before joining the NUDIPU iSAVE programme, she had low self-esteem due to stigma and discrimination which affected her psychologically and socially.
It was upon joining the iSAVE group, she was identified and given a wheel a chair which eased her movement to attend the group meetings as well as around the community.
The programme has started building her confidence in interaction with other people within the community and is now patiently waiting to be enrolled in vocational studies/skilling which is usually provided by NUDIPU.
Ssekanabwo Zaina a 34 year old member of Twekembe NUDIPU iSAVE group in Buvuma district is a care taker of a child with hearing impairment and the main breadwinner for the family. She says, her main source of income for her 5 months old charcoal business was the loan she obtained from the group. She started with 7 bags and now has 13 bags of charcoal. She buys a bag at 30,000/= and sells it at 40,000/=.
Zaina appreciated the group for enabling her to save money and take loans that have boosted her business. From her profits, she has been able to buy a goat which gave birth to 1 kid, she intends to put up a farm business from which she can rear goats and cows. As a business woman, she sends charcoal to Masese landing site in Jinja twice a week and plans to get a big store in Masese landing site in Jinja because of the ready market there. Before joining the group, she was a subsistence farmer who depended on food crops for home use.
Another beneficiary of the programme is Ms. Naula Madina, a 45 year old mother of six and bread winner of her family who boasts of the NUDIPU iSAVE programme in Buvuma district as it has greatly improved her livelihood. On joining the iSAVE group, she took a loan of 80,000/= to start the business of Pan cakes and chapatis to boost her local restaurant where she cooks breakfast and lunch. A plate of food ranges from 2,000/= to 3,000/=. She makes a profit of 10,000/=.
Before, she used to sell grass for making brooms and roofing but stopped after she got more asthmatic. She has bigger plans to grow her business and have a retail shop. Joining the iSAVE group has enabled her to raise school fees for her two children who are in senior three and four. Madina encourages other persons with disabilities to join the NUDIPU iSAVE programme.