Betty’s Story: Disability Not Inability

information pills geneva;”>People in Uganda started making crafts long time ago as way of passing time and for decoration in their homes but today it has become one of the strong jobs women do most especially the vulnerable groups like people with disabilities, online widowed , dosage and school drop outs.

It is estimated that 10,000 men and women in Uganda are involved in the crafts industry both leaving in rural and urban centres.

In the past, the elderly used to do some simple crafts such as mats, weaving baskets, bark clothes for dresses, hats, bags, bed sheets for just their children and homes but today people do it for money and earn a living out of it.

Some of the jewellery Betty sells in her shop

In 1973, Crafts became a serious business in the country when Uganda Crafts 2000 limited was formed by Marlin Dodge, a UNICEF worker and Betty Kinene, a councilor representing people with disabilities in Mpigi district.


Betty, who is disabled and was then a mere shopkeeper, aimed at helping people with disabilities and the widows who had no husbands to cater for their needs.

She opened up some income generating schemes such as crop growing initiatives, hand craft training and production.

Uganda crafts ltd also sells handbags, trays, greeting cards, wooden crafts, baskets, paintings as displayed in the picture above

In 1980’s she opened up a small kiosk at Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala where she sold hand crafts and by then she had trained over 50 women in making crafts and had a few Americans who were her customers.

She was also a widow with five children trying to forge a living out of crafts.

In 2000, Betty opened up another shop under the same name- Uganda Crafts 2000 Ltd. Betty’s business grew with volunteers like UNICEF workers and tourists purchasing handcrafts. It was the first shop of that kind in the country.

Uganda crafts sells 80 percent African made products that include; wood back cloth, hand bags, trays, baskets, greeting cards, wooden crafts, kids gifts, leather shoes, jewellery, key chains, hats and musical instruments.

Betty told Chimpreports said she exports her products to various countries including Canada, America, Italy, Sweden, Kenya, South Africa, Holland, Denmark and Japan through shipment, air and buses in case she is transporting them to the neighboring countries like Kenya.

All Betty’s products are 80% African made

She asserted that she has gained a lot from this job including being recognized in the outside countries, up lifting her standards of living, teaching her five children in good schools, and acquiring friends.

Despite the above achievements, Betty also faces challenges in her job. She says Uganda Revenue Authority and KCCA charge high taxes on her products, adding the cost of living in the country is high.

She adds there is a lot of competition from the NGOS that have crafts shops in Kampala and usually take her workers because they offer higher payments.

By 2000, Betty had trained over 50 women in making hand crafts

Betty further calls upon the Government of Uganda to reduce on the taxes subjected to crafts exports “because this job is mostly for the vulnerable.”

She also appeals for more customers from Uganda and outside countries.

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