The discrimination experienced by people with albinism means they're routinely excluded from formal employment and their enterprises are often shunned by potential customers who believe albinism is a curse. For example, when Hasifa began making chapatis to sell in her village, people were initially reluctant to purchase them. People with albinism can’t herd animals or cultivate crops in the sun for long periods of time because of their vulnerability to sunburn and skin cancer. Most people with albinism therefore lack sustainable sources of income and live in chronic financial need, among the poorest, most marginalised groups in Uganda.
Advantage Africa is working with our partner the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA) to address these challenges through good quality skills training, materials, equipment and loans to enable people with albinism to start their own sustainable businesses. We also raise awareness in the community about albinism to prevent the kind of discrimination experienced by Hasifa and ensure equal opportunities.
Annette has six dependants to care for. With no reliable income, their lives used to be very difficult and they would ‘sometimes spend days without eating at all.’ With support from Advantage Africa, Annette set up a small fruit and vegetable business in her village. People got used to seeing her every day under the shade of her stall and started to buy her produce.
Annette can now meet her family’s basic needs and is changing attitudes to people with albinism within her community. She says ‘Whatever I have to sell, they buy. They all love me!’
Shariq (right) is a young man with albinism. Discrimination and lack of income meant this bright teenager dropped out of secondary school, so Advantage Africa supported him to start a small shoe-selling business and his confidence soared. He said ‘Though I walk into a community and get insulted, still I am strong and just ignore it.’ On particularly good days Shariq can sell as many as twenty pairs of shoes and has now returned to school.
Advantage Africa's has helped SNUPA's ten district representatives to start income generating activities to provide for the basic needs and enable them to do their work with SNUPA. 80% of the enterprises, which include retail shops and rearing pigs and poultry, have been successful and now provide a sustainable source of income.
We have also helped more than 50 people with albinism to start small enterprises such as trading in clothes and making popcorn through our 'severe hardship fund'. These enterprises provide a pathway out of poverty for people with albinsm and build their self-esteem and confidence, as well as changing community attitudes from discrimination to respect.