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.
Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Tanzania

Despite growth resulting from gold production and tourism, Tanzania remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Approximately 36 percent of Tanzanians live below the poverty line. Yet the country’s economic potential is unmistakable.

One out of every three Tanzanians is self-employed, indicating a high level of microenterprise activity. Only 20 percent of the population, however, has access to a formal bank within an hour’s walking distance of their home. Recognizing this great need, Opportunity Tanzania, headquartered in Dar es Salaam, was established in 2007 and serves clients through hub branches in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Moshi, and two satellite branches, in Tengeru and Himo.

Opportunity Internationals programs in Tanzania are fundraising to build a regulated bank that will offer savings products and give clients a safe place to save their money, no matter how small the amount.

In addition to individual and Trust Group loans, Opportunity has started offering Solidarity Group loans in Tanzania. These loans are tailored for a growth-oriented enterprise with group sizes of five to 10 entrepreneurs who run medium-sized businesses. Unlike the Trust Group lending model, Solidarity Groups receive larger loans, and clients make monthly loan payments versus weekly.

Only 4 percent of people in rural areas have a bank account and, while 70 percent of Tanzanians earn some income from growing and selling crops, only 1 percent has ever used a loan to buy seeds, tools or fertilizer. The new Agricultural Finance program will empower some of Tanzania’s most marginalized rural communities and will launch in the South Corridor, a region that accounts for the majority of the country’s agricultural activity and has high potential for increased food production.

Opportunity International’s work and expansion in Tanzania offers hope to people who have never before had access to formal financial services.

Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Uganda

Chronic political instability and ineffective economic management led to a pattern of decline that has made Uganda one of the world's most impoverished and least-developed countries. Nearly a quarter of its population lives below the poverty line. Many people live in inadequate and overcrowded dwellings in slums, mostly without clean water, electricity and proper sanitation. Rural people, too, suffer from a serious lack of basic necessities.

Opportunity Uganda’s operations began in 1994 as FAULU Uganda with the remaining shares bought by Opportunity International in 2009. Since that time, Opportunity was granted a deposit license and has expanded service to include some of Uganda’s most marginalized areas. Opportunity Uganda offers a full suite of financial services to those living in chronic poverty. Thank you for your support in making this happen. 

  • Farmer LoansLoans help farmers pay expenses during the growing season. Opportunity Uganda maps and profiles clients’ farms, enabling the bank to customize lending to their needs.
  • Savings: Opportunity Uganda offers personal and fixed deposit accounts. The bank is poised to launch ExtraSave, which encourages clients to deposit a little more than their loan repayment amounts; and AgroSave, which incorporatesinsurance coverage into farmer savings accounts, helping ensure farmers’ food security.
  • Education Finance: School proprietor loans help education entrepreneurs expand classroom capacity, improve sanitation and enhance classroom technology. EduSave, an insurance-linked education-specific savings product developed with our insurance subsidiary, MicroEnsure, helps children continue to pay tuition in the event they lose their family income through a parent’s death or disability.
  • Home Improvement Loans: Conventional banks generally fail or ignore loan requests for low-cost shelter. Opportunity International and Habitat for Humanity work together to provide home improvement financing, housing support services and technical construction assistance to impoverished people in Uganda, as well as Ghana and Malawi.
  • Solar Panel Loans: A solar panel loan (approximately US$300) covers panels and installation, to bring light to families living without electricity. The energy the panels absorb from the sun helps families efficiently light their homes and businesses so they can extend their hours of income- or school-based productivity.
Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Educating Children

Maryhill Junior School
Maryhill Junior School

Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school—and 70 percent are girls. If a girl cannot complete secondary school, she is at a higher risk of illiteracy, HIV and early marriage, offering little chance of reaching her potential.

One out of every two people on this planet struggles to feed and educate their children. Your support helps Opportunity bring new educational opportunities to children in impoverished neighborhoods around the world. With financial support and business training, school proprietors can build schools and hire teachers, as well as add classrooms, meal services and lavatories. School Propietors like Thomas Balya Bugembe. 

Thomas, a former seminarian, dreamed of opening a school for the underserved students of Sonde, Uganda. In 2006, he opened Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School with just 37 students in two rooms on land.

Enrollment grew steadily, and so did Thomas’ determination to improve the quality of education for his students -- whose parents were mostly subsistencefarmers.

With a series of incremental loans,Opportunity Uganda helped Thomas purchase his own land and expand the school to include a main hall and a kindergarten wing. He now has 14 qualified teachers at Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School to help him serve nearly 400 Ugandan students.

Thomas says his partnership with Opportunity International will allow him to continue expanding the range of educational opportunities at Maryhill and offer a brighter future for students.

Thomas plans to construct a school library, complete with a computer lab and technological training for students. He has a vision of three separate buildings: one each for kindergarten students, day students and boarding students.

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