Ugandan entrepreneur living with a disability shows resilience and resourcefulness in the face of COVID-19

Showing resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity are key qualities of any successful entrepreneur – and it’s something that people living with disabilities do on a daily basis while navigating everyday life, including the labour market. According to the UN Development Goals Report, the unemployment rate for people living with disabilities is as high as 90% in some of the world’s developing countries, due to discrimination and lack of accessibility. Turning to entrepreneurship can offer a viable alternative.

Meet 32-year-old Susan Akello, a blind entrepreneur from Northern Uganda running her own piggery. When Susan lost her eyesight at the age of 15, she was forced to drop out of education, leaving her with dire prospects for the future. Nonetheless, she was determined to make a living for herself. In 2018, she started her own piggery with great success – within just one year, she was able to increase the number of high-quality large white pigs on her farm to 27 and became one of the largest buyers of maize grain in the area.

However, in 2020 COVID-19 restrictions put Susan’s business in jeopardy and forced her to sell off 17 of her pigs to be able to afford feed for the rest. This was a big setback for the single mother of two who relied on the piggery to pay for her children’s education.

To help Susan get through this rough patch, our member in Uganda Cordaid (previously ICCO Uganda) provided her with a hardship grant, funded through our programme with Standard Chartered Foundation. The UGX (Ugandan shilling) 1,200,000 Susan received enabled her to move her piggery to a larger property and increase the number of pigs on her farm. Susan believes that this has set her business up for further growth. She says: “For now, I still maintain my one farm hand, but I expect that since my business now has room for growth, I will make enough money from my expanded business plan to hire more staff to assist him.”

Susan is one of 300 young entrepreneurs from the Nebbi and Lira districts in Northern Uganda who have benefitted from recovery grants under Cordaid’s COVID-19 Agribusiness Recovery project, funded through our programme with Standard Chartered Foundation. The project seeks to support the recovery and revival of 600 youth enterprises in northern Uganda that were adversely affected by COVID-19.

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