Opportunity International

Our mission is to provide opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives. Our strategy is to create jobs, stimulate small businesses and strengthen communities among the poor. Our method is to work through sustainable local microfinance institutions that provide small business loans, savings, insurance and training. Our commitment is motivated by Jesus Christ's call to serve the poor. Our core values are respect, commitment to the poor, integrity and stewardship.
Apr 10, 2015

Education Finance Initiative Update

More than 67 million children worldwide are not in school. Many of these children belong to families who are struggling to escape poverty but do not have adequate resources to provide a better future for their children. Research shows that education is not only a proven path out of poverty but also improves life expectancy, boosts income and reduces child marriages. Education is a powerful tool that enables both children and adults to rise out of poverty. With this knowledge, Opportunity is committed to equipping families and education entrepreneurs with valuable financial services and training so that every child has the opportunity to learn in a classroom.

Opportunity’s multifaceted Education Finance Initiative supports the family with School Fee loans, insurance and Tertiary loans. School Fee loans and insurance through the recently launched EduSave program help keep children in school in the event of a parent’s or caregiver’s death or disablement. Additionally, Tertiary loans provide financial support for individuals who go on to receive higher education. To date, Opportunity has issued 6,200 School Fee loans that have served 19,200 students in Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Dominican Republic.

The Education Finance Initiative also provides services to education entrepreneurs to ensure that the children who are able to attend school have an adequate school to attend. Opportunity has conducted eight targeted training sessions for 540 teachers and school proprietors in Ghana since Education Finance’s inception. In addition to Ghana, School Improvement loans are now offered in Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Dominican Republic and Kenya. In those countries, a total of 880 School Improvement loans have impacted 219,500 students who are now benefit from improved educational facilities that better equip them to break free from the cycle of poverty.

School proprietor and client, Franklyn, used Opportunity’s School Improvement Loans to recover from tragedy. A powerful storm destroyed the roof and two classrooms of the Tower of David Academy. The local bank considered the school too small and would not offer Franklyn a loan, but a student’s mother told her about Opportunity International. With her first Opportunity loan, Franklyn repaired the devastated roof and classrooms and purchased desks and computers. To date she has used four Opportunity loans to improve and expand her school which now serves 170 students in nine classrooms. Franklyn’s determination, paired with access to School Improvement loans, has supported transformational, education opportunities that provide hope for the future.

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Apr 10, 2015

Uganda Operational Update

Opportunity Uganda’s operations are expanding to empower thousands of marginalized individuals. Opportunity currently reaches more than 27,000 clients with loan services and upwards of 105,000 Ugandans hold savings accounts. Savings outreach grew by 20% in the first half of 2014 alone. Three new branches were opened in 2013, and now clients all over Uganda have access to Opportunity’s services offered in 19 branches. In addition to new branches, cell phone banking and additional ATMs and mobile banking vehicles were introduced in 2014 and have increased accessibility to financial services for clients ranging from smallholder farmers to school proprietors.

Financial services enable clients to improve their businesses, gain access to education, provide adequate nutrition for their families and transform their communities. Given this information, Opportunity recognizes the need to improve financial literacy so that clients are able to make the most of the loan, savings and insurance products Opportunity offers. In addition to the traditional four week loan orientation program for new clients, Opportunity Uganda has launched a financial literacy “soap opera” training series that is broadcasted via radio and television in local languages. This creative training mechanism has gained popularity, and viewers and listeners find it both funny and informative. Opportunity’s financial training is not limited to adults; The Youth Financial Education program was recently launched in Uganda to provide financial education and employability training to youth. Opportunity has partnered with education organization Aflatoun, whose curriculum provides students with training on basic financial and enterprise-related themes, encouraging student commitment to education and employment.

The new training modules inform clients about how best to use the variety of financial products Opportunity offers. Recently added products have been designed to increase child saving and improve access to education. Opportunity Uganda has introduced a Child Savings Account, allowing a parent or guardian to open an account for their child. The account restricts withdrawals to one per month to encourage long-term saving to use toward costs like education. The Education Finance initiative has provided School Improvement loans for 108 school proprietors and has assisted 4,552 families with School Fee loans to cover education costs. Opportunity continues to serve thousands of Ugandan clients with a wide range of financial services and training programs developed to help empower the marginalized to rise out of poverty.

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Apr 10, 2015

Tanzania Impact Report

Opportunity International’s impact in Tanzania is growing. Financial Literacy training is now offered in Swahili to impact a wider audience. The training teaches clients valuable skills including how to evaluate financial products, manage credit and save for the future. Informed clients continue to benefit from both individual and Trust Group loans, and Opportunity has recently expanded loan services with the launch of the Education Finance initiative in Tanzania. Families now have access to School Fee loans to ensure that children can stay in school despite financial instability. Additionally, Opportunity has designed School Improvement loans to support school proprietors in their endeavors to gain access to better educational resources and facilities. In order to provide access to these valuable services, Opportunity has hired and trained staff and designed a marketing strategy for these products in Tanzania.

Short-cycled and branch-based loans that empower entrepreneurs and families are not sufficient for rural, smallholder farmers who require longer loan cycles and virtual access to banking services. To cater to farmers’ financial needs, Opportunity recently launched a branchless, Agricultural Finance pilot that targets smallholder farmers in the Southern Agricultural Growth Region of Tanzania. This program exists to provide agriculturally tailored loans and savings services to farmers via mobile banking. To date, nearly $138,000 has been disbursed in 363 loans to farmers, and Opportunity continues to experiment with products, technology and partnerships to learn how to improve financial services for the small-scale agricultural sector.

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