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.
Oct 7, 2013

Afsa is now a leader of her community

 For 13 years, Afsa has served as the leader of her Opportunity Rwanda Trust Group located outside Kigali, Rwanda, where she lives with her husband and five children. Afsa, who once struggled to make ends meet selling sugar, rice and flour, now operates a thriving business selling colorful fabric used to craft women’s clothing. Additionally, she built and currently rents two houses, and she is building a small shop to sell her fabrics. 


“Before Opportunity Rwanda came,” she said, “most women I know sold their wares by walking up and down the street. They did not own anything - they eked out enough to survive - one day at a time. Some days were not so good. The difference between a good and a bad day was simply whether or not your family had enough to eat. Today, many of us who have become Opportunity clients have much to show for our hard work. Some of us have built homes; others have purchased a motorbike or car. All of us have invested substantially into our families.Opportunity Rwanda is a ladder that raises you from one place to another - the place I am today is much better!” 


Most significantly for Afsa, Opportunity Rwanda has helped her instill leadership skills among women, who are traditionally underappreciated. She strives to empower women as they learn the importance of discipline and handling money in ways that build trustworthiness and integrity. “It pleases me to know that people trust my guidance. Whenever I am chosen to lead, I am prepared because I feel confident.” According to Afsa, “Opportunity Rwanda teaches Trust Groups how to increase their income, live well in the community, care for their families and serve others. Learning these skills has not only helped me bring my business to profitability, but also improves my ability to partner with other women and community leaders."

Oct 7, 2013

Evans is unstoppable because of your support

Evans Ssenabulya and his wife, Roy, have three daughters under the age of eight. Like most parents, it was impossible for Evans to ignore the importance of investing in education as he watched his three beautiful girls grow up. He also noticed how many children in the community, mostly girls, were removed from school when their families became unable to cover expenses. In 2007, Evans decided to do something. He started a school of 100 students in a small wooden structure on a rented plot of land. Now, just six years later, he owns the land and has grown the Ridgeway School into a day and boarding program serving over 900 students. 

If you ask him, Evans will say that Opportunity International helped advance his dreams far beyond what he thought possible. Through three loans and a corresponding savings account, he was able to purchase land, construct buildings and open a retail store selling scholastic materials. Evans won’t stop there; he continues to dream about brighter futures for his students. He plans to refurbish and expand the existing facilities, increase enrollment to 5000, and introduce computer technology and life skills into the curriculum to better equip his students for the future. 

Opportunity believes that education should be a right, not a privilege and here’s what we are doing to help in Uganda.

Education Finance Products – 

With 99 active School Improvement loans and an outstanding portfolio valuing $1.5 million, Opportunity Uganda more than doubled the number of schools it added to its Banking on Education portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, Opportunity Uganda has transformed 122 schools since the program onset. Opportunity Uganda: 

  • Distributed 10,714 School Fee loans cumulatively, mainly through the Trust Group model, making a substantial impact on the number of clients who can now send their children to school. 
  • Provided 4,358 with School Fee loans this year helping families send their kids off to school. 
  • Is poised to launch EduSave, an education insurance product tied to savings accounts, in 2013.  

Opportunity’s EduSave product, designed with MicroEnsure enables parents to earn an extra safety net for their children’s education. EduSave works when a parent saves enough money to qualify for free insurance. For example, when a parent saves $25 they qualify for $125 in school fees insurance – if they die or become permanently disabled, a trusted individual receives a payout of 5x the savings balance to keep the child in school. The product launched in Malawi with 170,000 parents qualified for coverage on the first day. Our average savings account holder has 3.8 children – therefore, on its first day, EduSave covered 646,000 Malawian children. The product also went live on a national scale in Ghana in early 2013.

Oct 7, 2013

Nicaragua Community Development Program Update

AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM

In 2012, the agricultural program achieved notable growth. The yucca processing plant reached $250,000 in sales, confirming the demand for our products and surpassing the established goal by more than 20%. During the year, 125 new farm loans were disbursed. Opportunity’s approach of co-investing provides farmers with seeds, farm loans and technical assistance plus market solutions including the use of our processing plant which adds value to the products, garnering farmers a higher price at market. Opportunity’s profit sharing and ownership model produces multiple impacts: increased income, asset accumulation, job creation and access to new markets – all dynamic economic indicators that create a sustainable, cycle of development. Highlights include:  

 

  • Through community awareness, the staff reached out to 121 new farmers by conducting orientation sessions regarding Opportunity’s farm and processing services.
  • Currently, we are serving 365 farmers, of whom 45 are women and 66 are now linked to markets through Opportunity’s yucca plant. 
  • The plant processed 2.4 million pounds of product and generated $255,797 in sales revenue.
  • 15 farmers earned $7,000 by selling their harvest to the yucca processing plant. 
  • Farmers increased yields by 30-50%, resulting in a significant increase in net income.
  • Last fall, Opportunity received a generous donation of a tractor that is used to groom both Opportunity’s and our client’s fields. 
  • The Inter-American Development Bank approved a grant to provide technical assistance, research, program expansion and evaluation of our agricultural program over the next 3.5 years. 
  • In 2012, Opportunity launched a new loan product to help families acquire piglets to address cyclical cash flow problems between harvests. On average, pigs are sold at market for a profit of $56. 

 

COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE AND LEADERSHIP PROGRAM 

Dedicated to helping families with a strong desire to help themselves and their neighbors, Opportunity’s Community Infrastructure projects finished 2012 strong by completing the largest community-led infrastructure project to date – the repairing of the La Laguna road. This was the first project that included Opportunity International, the community and the local municipality. 

 

  • More than 12,000 people are direct beneficiaries of these community projects. 18 loans were provided to repair houses and 48 loans to women for purchasing pigs. 
  • There are 24 active libraries in our network that are receiving training.
  • The La Laguna road is fully repaired. The community is now working to change the electrical system to reduce costs in pumping water for the aqueduct. The entire community now has access to water!
  • 65 efficiency stoves were purchased by our clients and installed in the area.
  • There are more than 400 active youth in the three established Young Life clubs serving the poorest barrios in Granada. More than 30 youth were fully funded to attend leadership camp this quarter.

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