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Uganda to host the first ever conference on microfinance and disability

26 September 2014, 11:00 Godfrey Olukya

Kampala - Between November 11 and November 12, 2014, the Government of Uganda in collaboration with the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) will host a Conference on Microfinance and Disability at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala under the theme, “Making Microfinance work for the Un-served; Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities”.

According to Uganda's minister of state for the elderly and disabled, Sulaiman Madada, that Conference is the first of its kind here in Uganda and on the International scene.

''It will be a forum for presentation of practices, innovations and research results in the fields of Microfinance, Disability and Inclusion. It will be one of the activities to mark the month’s activities for the International Day of Persons with disabilities which will be on 3rd December, 2014.''

Madada said that the overall purpose of this conference is to showcase how finance can work for inclusive development, highlighting innovative approaches of tackling the needs of financially excluded households of persons with disabilities.

The specific objectives of the conference are; to showcase the Ugandan case whereby the government is at the forefront in the promotion of inclusive development in all spheres including financial service provision, to share experiences in integration of Disability into financial service provision and how the partnership has encouraged fledgling entrepreneurs to get started and could help in extending financial services to disabled entrepreneurs world over.

He added that it will also showcase successful initiatives in financial inclusion of marginalized communities worldwide, provide space and opportunity for key stakeholders to explore how their efforts towards financial inclusion can be enhanced in improving the outreach of financial services to the poorest communities, and also influence the Private Sector towards working with small businesses, including those run by people with disabilities; as a Win-Win situation that opens doors to a whole new range of clients.

Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 percent or approximately one billion of the world’s population.

Over 80 percent of these people live in developing countries.

According to the Uganda National Household Survey Report 2009/10 the people with disabilities are 16% (5.088.000) of the population (UBOS, 2010, Statistical Abstract).

Persons with Disabilities frequently experience discrimination and face barriers to participation in all aspects of society including accessing financial services, education, employment, healthcare and transportation among others.

Some persons with disabilities face multiple barriers to their participation, due to discrimination on the basis of other grounds, including sex, nativity and age.

According to a 2005 study by Handicap International, less than 1% of the microfinance institutions, dedicated to serving the world’s financially excluded people.

As a result, persons with disabilities are at a high risk of poverty, which in itself increases the likelihood of having a disability.

''Majority of Persons with disabilities are excluded from microfinance services. Based on this exclusion, persons with disabilities are of low self-esteem, face exclusion from other community members, service providers and service design,'' Mdada said.

The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) in partnership with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) with the support of Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD)

have been implementing a project aimed at increasing access to sustainable microfinance services to persons with disabilities in Uganda.

The project which started as a pilot between AMFIU and NUDIPU has now become a concept accepted by many as a learning platform.

It is against this background that AMFIU, NUDIPU together with the government of Uganda are organizing this conference to share lessons from this initiative.

Madada said the conference is open to all stakeholders including, policy makers and  regulators, Microfinance Institutions, National and International Disabled Peoples' Organizations (DPOs), Microfinance support organizations, Relevant Government Departments, Key shapers of international Microfinance industry, Academic institutions and research organizations and Development partners.

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