The majority of Deaf people in Uganda face discrimination and are subjected to various forms of appalling living conditions, abuse and violence. They are excluded from national development programmes and miss out on opportunities to become economically productive members of society. Many possess key business skills that can enable them set up their own businesses – creating employment and avenues of self-sustainability.
In 2010 DLU established the Micro-credit Programme to avail micro-credit loans to eligible self-employed deaf individuals who had a business of their own. The programme was a result of exclusion of majority of deaf people from national and private microfinance services, readily available to hearing people. Extending micro-credit loans to the deaf enabled them secure their employment, improve income and result in economic independence.
DLU gives small loans to eligible self-employed deaf people, strengthening their economic capacities. Over 30 deaf individuals have benefited from this programme which uses a re-cycling loan system. Upon qualifying for a loan, a deaf person is given 3-6months of loan repayment (i.e. in installments). When a beneficiary completes their repayment, they have several opportunities to re-apply. The project maximizes deaf people’s economic potentials as productive members of society, improving their lives and enabling them participate in the nation’s economic industry. Many are also to hire deaf peers in their enterprises, thus reducing un-employment.
In 2015, with a growing number of deaf people interested to take loans, the micro-credit project was upgraded to a Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO) fully registered with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives. Government regulations required that the newly formed Deaf Link Uganda Savings & Credit Cooperative Society obtain a membership of 30 individuals who saved on a monthly basis. The initial year the SACCO was dedicated providing extensive training to its members, providing seminars on business management, savings, basic finance literacy and related matters. The SACCO has grown to a membership of 40 deaf and hearing members. Loans are disbursed to eligible applicants within the SACCO.