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© 2022 Opportunity InternationalOpportunity International United Kingdom is registered as a charity in England and Wales (1107713) and in Scotland (SCO39692).

Who knew that the humble voice note could help lift people out of poverty?

By Opportunity International

Today, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Where the digital world turns their attention towards people with disabilities and shines a light on digital access and inclusion.

There are more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments globally. Digital accessibility cannot be overlooked. And cannot be confined to one awareness raising day. Accessibility is integral to equality.  

In Uganda, we are providing access to financial service to people living with disabilities and working closely with our clients and partners to unlock the power of digital innovations to enable better accessibility. We’re adapting as we learn from our disabled clients and can celebrate today knowing that we’ve reach more than 19,000 disabled people through our programme.

 

A GREAT SUCCESS of the programme has been the use of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) campaigns promoting financial inclusion and good financial practices. IVR messages have continued to make financial literacy training possible throughout pandemic lockdowns.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services, delivered via client’s mobile phones, are translated into local languages.

IVR is making training accessible for disabled people who are physically unable to travel to meet for training and for those who are visually impaired. We’ve thought about those with audio impairments too. The voice recordings can be saved and listened to again meaning a client can get a friend to listen and share the information with them.

The trainings can be received on any kind of phone - clients aren’t limited by not having a smart phone.

The Transformational Journey of Mr Joseph.  

Joseph, sits on the ground mending a push bike by his workshop

Joseph has a physical disability. He is a well-known in his local area for repairing bicycles. He's part of a Village Savings and Loans Group of disabled people who meet weekly to save money together.

Before being introduced to formal banking, Joseph never had the self-confidence to use a bank. He thought his physical disability and job held him back.

“After all I am a person with disability and therefore always had low self-esteem and expected handouts from people. It has been a hand to mouth business most times.”

I had never used a bank. But now I have an account that at least I deposit a minimum of fifty thousand shillings (approximately £11) per week and I am also now confident in using the bank unlike before when I thought the bank was only for persons without disability.”

 “I have learnt that budgeting is very key and that’s why I can now save my money in the bank confidently.  I can meet my financial goals of roofing my house, accessing credit services from the bank, expanding my business and also diversifying. I will be economically empowered”.

Spare bike parts hang from the roof of disabled clients Jospeh's workshop

 “My business is thriving due the business skills and tips I received on the IVR messages.”

“It’s convenient to persons with disabilities to use the alternative digitalised methods of bank transactions. It saves time and unnecessary movement to the bank.”

Joseph with Opportunity Bank Uganda's financial inclusion officer working by his workshop repairing a bike

 

FUTURE-PROOFING

Accessibility awareness is important in all areas of designing our programmes to include as many people as possible and give them the opportunity to transform their businesses and lives.

We have plans to develop banking apps and are already sharing financial training via radio and television programmes and ultimately, roll out our ideas, training and technology to more disabled communities.

Watch this space!

 


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