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.
Jul 16, 2014

Education July Update

At the close of 2013, Opportunity International’s four education finance products — school improvement loans, school fee loans, tertiary loans, and EduSave school fee insurance — had helped school proprietors add classrooms, ensured that children could stay in school, and funded higher education. Thousands upon thousands of children are starting on the right foot because of investments in their education. The exact number of children who benefited from these investments in 2013? A stunning 572,350.

Opportunity has increased its loans in all areas of education, from school improvement to school fees. School improvement loans allow proprietors to install proper toilet facilities, purchase textbooks and desks, and provide their students with a safe educational environment. School fee loans mean that children can continue their educations, even if their parents cannot afford tuition. Tertiary loans help students pursue their dreams of university or vocational school. In Uganda alone, Opportunity plans to support an additional 3000 students with school fee loans by 2016. Eleven schools in Rwanda had received school improvement loans by the end of 2013, just one year after the launch of the program.

But education is about so much more than just loans. That’s why Opportunity provides training to school proprietors, to promote quality improvement and ensure they can effectively manage their schools. Training ranges from School Financial Management to Teacher Management to various pedagogical methods. 540 proprietors and teachers in Ghana – 80% of the school owners -- have participated in this training. Youth financial training has been implemented as well, with workshops on financial literacy and saving expected to affect 6000 at-risk Ugandan girls by early 2016.

Even after all the successes of 2013, we’re still not satisfied. We believe in sustainable development, and are in the middle of studying strategies for expanding our educational footprint in Tanzania, Colombia, India, and beyond. With the power of education, we can transform the lives of young people worldwide and break the cycle of poverty once and for all.

Jul 16, 2014

Banking on Africa July Update

In 2013, Opportunity International reached 1.2 million savings clients in Africa — a nearly threefold increase from 2009. Client deposits total $68 million. Over $120 million is circulating the continent in Opportunity loans, helping our clients work toward cleaner water, better education, safer homes, and a brighter future.

Agricultural finance grew tremendously in 2013, with 26% more loans disbursed to farmers than in 2012. The total amount loaned was $20.4 million, or more than double the amount loaned the year before. Opportunity increased its outreach to smallholder farmers in five countries — Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, and Rwanda — with plans to launch outreach in Tanzania in 2014. Technology will play a key role in agriculture as well, with Opportunity piloting loans to finance tractors and GPS technology.

Education was another major focus of 2013, with Opportunity Uganda disbursing over 100 School Improvement loans and 4500 School Fee loans. Opportunity Uganda also launched EduSave in 2013, a free education insurance that ensures school fee funding in case of a parent’s death or disablement, and now covers nearly 13,000 families. Opportunity Malawi also launched EduSave in 2013, protecting the education of over 127,000 children.

Finally, Opportunity increased access to financial services in Africa, through the expansion of mobile banking in Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi. Opportunity’s branch in the Democratic Republic of Congo received its official deposit-taking license in November of 2013, meaning that poor families now have a safe place to save their hard-earned money.

Jul 16, 2014

Nicaragua July Update

2013 was a big year for Opportunity’s work in Nicaragua, and 2014 promises to be even bigger. Our community economic development program doesn’t just focus on farmers; we aim to lift up the entire community.

We take a two-pronged approach to helping our farmers. First, we provide training and increased access to loans. In 2013, 250 clients received training on modern farming practices such as soil fertility and effective seed use. Second, we invest in infrastructure that adds value to crops and improves access to markets. Our yucca processing plant makes packaging and processing tools available to farmers for their crops, allowing them to sell for higher prices. Sales through the processing plant rose to over $90,000 in 2013, and the average Opportunity farmer’s income was $1000 – 30% more than the average in the area. 

We are also ensuring a brighter future for the children of Nicaragua. The Emprendedora Technical School, founded by Opportunity in 2012, has grown by 200% in just two years, and now serves 180 students. By 2016, the school hopes to hire seven new faculty members and expand to a student body of 300. 81% of students at Emprendedora are maintaining grades of at least 80 points, compared to the public school average of 60% maintaining grade level at 60 points. In addition to utilizing their new computer lab and Internet access, Emprendedora’s students benefit from the entrepreneurship lessons Opportunity has embedded into their curriculum, in which they receive a comprehensive, hands-on “field-to-market” education on how to operate a sustainable, profitable business.

Finally, we give back to the community as a whole. We trained 11 community leaders to identify child labor and sex exploitation, resulting in six cases currently under prosecution, and we have established 54 libraries that serve over 3000 rural children and their families.

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