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 9, 2014

Women breaking the barriers of poverty

ana
ana

Because of your support, Ana is unstoppable.

Despite the poverty and gender discrimination which could have held her back, Ana owned the opportunity to thrive, then paid it forward, empowering her village and lifting up the women around her to, finally, have a voice in shaping their futures.

Ana and her seven siblings grew up in La Laguna, often without enough to eat, and she worked from a very young age to pay her own school fees. Ana says her parents instilled in her a sense of independence, and also responsibility to give back to her community.

Ten years ago, in order to survive, Ana and 20 other determined women formed La Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Trust Group to access loans from Opportunity International. Most bought goods such as oil and rice to sell by the roadside or in front of their homes. Then Opportunity International approached them to work on critical issues in the community, including the need for potable water.  Ana and her neighbors had been without drinking water in their homes for many years because of an earthquake. They would travel 7 km to fill their barrels at a monthly cost of about $24 for 3 cubic meters of water. Not only was this a great expense for people living in poverty, but also took them away from their businesses and families.

Community issues in La Laguna had always been handled exclusively by the La Laguna Community Cooperative, a group consisting of five male elders. The group had been trying to get a new well dug for about 10 years, but Ana’s Trust Group was frustrated and no longer trusted that the men could get the project completed. Ana was determined to get things done and became the first woman to join the cooperative, and then the board.  That’s when things started happening.  Opportunity International lent the cooperative $10,000, payable over 10 years, to dig a well 600 meters deep.  Under the instruction of Ana, the community members came together to dig and install piping to carry the water to each villager’s home. The cooperative started with 157 homes, and then ran piping to additional homes as more money came in. Today, the water project is self-sustaining.  Presently, 224 families pay $5.24 per month for 8 cubic meters of water. By the end of 2013, they hope to reach every family in this community of 3,800 people.  Ana says the improvement in their lives is remarkable: they save so much time and money now, and the water is far superior to what they were getting before.

In 2010, heavy rains destroyed the one road out of the village, cutting off residents’ access to healthcare and the outside world. Working with Opportunity, Ana and the other board members were able to raise the money to complete the 7.5 km road this past December, which has opened up the village’s world of opportunity. The cooperative also helps needy people rebuild their roofs, and recently refurbished the community’s library. Their next big project will be building a healthcare center for the community.

Ana has recruited other women to join the board and now there are equal numbers of women and men—and even young people—solving the community’s critical issues. She believes that the older board members must begin to train the younger women how to serve and lead. Approximately 20 people meet regularly in Ana’s home to discuss coop business.

Ana earns $60 a month as one of five employees of the cooperative; she is the bookkeeper and cashier.  To supplement this income and her husband’s earnings as a photographer, Ana prepares 130 native meals each Sunday and sells them for $1.20. She is proud that her family no longer has to live with her mother, but has their own home, that she can pay her 10-year-old son’s school fees, and that she will be able to do the same for her 3-year-old daughter when she is ready to go to school. In her mind’s eye, she sees her children as successful professionals, with a better life than she has had.

She will tell you none of this would be possible without Opportunity International’s investment.  Ana dreams of becoming a lawyer to help the people of her community. She says it hurts her when she sees people being taken advantage of by lawyers and others. She is also excited to see what Opportunity International will do beyond her village in Nicaragua, and even in other countries, and she would like to somehow to be a part of that. 

Jan 8, 2014

Opportunity International is Helping to Rebuild

Capiz, Philippines
Capiz, Philippines

In November, Typhoon Haiyan – one of the worst tropical storms on record – hit the Philippines. The typhoon devastated the island nation, destroying homes and businesses, and affecting more than 13 million people, including five million children, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. An estimated 4,000 lives were lost and nearly 4.5 million were displaced. The typhoon also took houses, businesses and loved ones away from thousands of Opportunity clients.

It’s an unimaginably difficult situation for survivors – but Opportunity International is there to help. Microfinance can play a significant role in rebuilding the island nation, by delivering financial support to the most vulnerable. Opportunity immediately created the Philippines Rebuilding Fund to ensure that the individuals and families affected have the financial assistance to recover.

While aid organizations must continue to provide lifesaving services now, we must also think about where survivors will be one year, two years, and five years from now. This fund will give survivors the support they need to reconstruct their homes, restart their businesses and restore their livelihoods. It will provide resources for long-term efforts, including emergency loans and assistance to local partners that help communities regain their economic health. Opportunity has worked in the Philippines since 1981, so we’ll be there assisting recovery every step of the way.

Learn more about the Opportunity Philippines Rebuilding Fund in this MSNBC artcile from December 24, 2013: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/how-rebuild-the-philippines

Donate now to the Rebuilding Fund: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/raise-capital-for-entrepreneurs-in-philippines/.

Jan 8, 2014

Program Update: Fully Funded Project!

With an average income of $2 per day, many Ghanaians struggle against the debilitating effects of chronic poverty and hunger. Opportunity Ghana’s operations began in 1994. Today, we provide nationwide coverage in Ghana with significant operations in all 10 of the country’s regions through 47 branches that serve hardworking grassroots entrepreneurs with an array of microfinance products and services.

In 2005, Opportunity launched its programs in Ghana to offer deposit services and increase outreach to Ghana’s most marginalized rural families and communities. Because of your support we have imrpoved our agricultural loans to help farmers, many of which are women, pay expenses during the growing season.

Through the support of this project, we have raised the funds to map and profile clients’ farms, enabling the bank to customize agricultural lending to provide accurate input levels and funding. Savings accounts and insurance products also help ensure farmers’ food security. The crop focus in Ghana includes cocoa, chili, plantain, citrus and onions.

We are so thankful and appreciative of your support which has enabled this project to be fully funded. Until we develop another project focused on Ghana, we will be rolling over all recurring donations to a broader project called Banking on Africa (#7660). This new project focuses on providing financial services to the poorest of the poor in Africa many of which are rural farmers. Please contact us at getinfo@opportunity.org with any questions regarding the ending of this project. Thank you again. 

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