Uganda iSAVE
The implementation of iSAVE consist of three main components;

The iSAVE program works with local communities to encourage the establishment of village savings and credit groups. The groups are self-selected and managed by persons with disabilities, but also include non-disabled members such as caretakers of persons with disabilities and other people in the community. These groups are then engaged in extensive training on how to develop and maintain a savings and credit group that is member-owned and self-managed. Being village-based, it has no external liabilities, and all profit from interest is kept within the group.

Since iSAVE provides only training, all funds and assets must be generated within the group. For those that have been dependent on hand-outs and charity, this means they are further encouraged to find sources of income from e.g. working on other people’s gardens, engaging in petty trade or selling small items or agricultural produce. This is usually the first small step towards taking an active role in getting oneself out of poverty.

The group gives the members the possibility to save and then later access loans that support them in developing income generating activities. The group also provides social insurance to the members in cases of deaths of their loved ones, extended illnesses, natural catastrophe, an accident or another emergency. When the group reaches a certain level of maturity the members are linked to formal financial services (i.e. licensed microfinance institutions – MFIs).

To facilitate successful links between persons with disabilities, savings and credit groups and microfinance institutions, iSAVE provides financial literacy training to group members. The training provides information on the services microfinance institutions offer and the obligations of the client towards the institutions.

iSAVE also provides training in disability inclusion to staff and management in the microfinance sector

As a result of this training persons with disabilities become more knowledgeable about microfinance services/products and their terms and conditions, while microfinance institutions gain an understanding of the value of involving persons with disabilities as clients.

Over time, the group (and individual group members) will accumulate larger sums of money, and keeping these funds in an account in a microfinance institution is more secure. Being clients of formal financial institutions also opens the door to other formal financial services, which might further foster the development of their businesses. Since it often takes money to make money, iSAVE promotes increased access to microfinance services for all persons with disabilities – not only those who are members of the village savings and credit groups.

Including persons with disabilities in microfinance service provision is a win-win situation in that persons with disabilities gain access to financial services, while the microfinance institutions widen their market base and, consequentially, their profit margin. Gradually, formal financial services become more inclusive and communities experience increased economic activity.

It is important to note, however, that iSAVE neither influences microfinance institutions terms/conditions of service nor contributes to their funds. Rather, iSAVE encourages microfinance institutions to develop professional relationships with persons with disabilities through training and awareness raising.

On average, the timeframe of a iSAVE program within a given district is between 2 to 3 years before successfully phasing out. During that time, disability leadership structures receive assistance in building their capacity and skills needed to grow and sustain the program for longer periods ahead.

Many find that it is just as challenging to maintain and grow a business as it is to start a business. Therefore, iSAVE also delivers entrepreneurship training to assist persons with disabilities in making good business decisions. The training covers issues such as making investments, managing capital, the proper use of credit, marketing, the importance of networking, etc. Training methods include the use of role models, peer learning and hands-on experience. iSAVE also links persons with disabilities (entrepreneurs) in rural communities with private sector development centres.

Persons with disabilities who are supported with entrepreneurship training are carefully selected from those group members who either demonstrate the capacity and the will to start a business or who already have a business.