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 21, 2011

Opportunity Gives Hope to Farmers in Need

Having been ravaged by four back-to-back typhoons, the Philippines is enduring a humanitarian crisis on a national scale. Farmers have lost entire crops, families have lost thriving businesses and community members have had to lean on one another for support.

The good news is that MicroEnsure, Opportunity International’s microinsurance subsidiary, and TSKI, one of Opportunity’s longest-standing microfinance institutions, are truly  helping the poor  in the Philippines to “weather life’s storms.” Smallholder farmers are rebuilding their lives and their farms with MicroEnsure’s weather-index crop insurance, which provides an automatic payout within 10 days of the storm.

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Jan 21, 2011

Microloans Provide More Education Opportunities in Kenya

Opportunity’s John Kamperschroer, VP of Resource Development, visited Kenya in August of 2010 to experience how Opportunity impacts education in Kenya. He shares reflections from his travels. 

"As we traveled along the bumpy roads of Kenya, dust and exhaust coated our lungs while receiving–as one driver put it–an “African massage.” We were on our way to visit three Kenyan schools: part of the experience for our Kenya Family Week travel group, which included my 17-year-old son Logan. We wanted to learn how Opportunity loans impact Kenyan education, to interact with the kids, and to meet the hard-working administrators and teachers. 

The first school we visited was the Wisdom Junior Educational Center, operated by Jacinta Njoki, who started the school in 2001 with a $375 loan and now has 150 kids and six teachers. We crowded into the the toddlers’ hot, stuffy nursery, where Jacinta shared that, although things are not always easy, 'We are happy here.'

The kids from the Fountain Junior School sang and performed for us--telling us that life would be better for their generation.

After entertaining the kids with coloring books, stickers, bracelets and beach balls that we had brought, Jacinta took us to a small, dark shack where seven members of the United Mothers group were making jewelry to sell. The proceeds from the jewelry goes to support five orphans and pay for a portion of the lunches that Jacinta’s school provides hungry kids every day. What an expression of love! 

The next day we visited Trinity Academy in the village of Kimongo in rural Kenya. Conditions in the village are difficult. Most of the kids who rushed to greet us were not wearing shoes, had tattered clothes, and some were dirty from head to foot. Most of their classrooms were tiny and windowless with no light source other than a doorway illuminating the few books they had. And yet the kids had huge smiles when we played with them. School administrator Onesmus Kivuva shared his hopes for creating a better learning environment for the children. In fact, he had used his Opportunity loan to build a metal building to replace the current mud hut classrooms. Next he plans to improve water and sanitation at the school. 

My son Logan played with the kids while the United Mothers group was inside making jewelry.

The following day, while still processing the financial poverty we’d witnessed in Kimongo, we arrived at the Fountain Junior School to the sounds of children laughing, chanting rhymes and jumping rope. Faith Njuguna is the impressive school administrator who, after losing her job, started a nursery 10 years ago with a loan from her father. Today, Faith has 200 students from babies through class 7 and wants to add class 8 next year. Faith’s determination is obviously contagious as these talented future leaders of Kenya expressed to us, through singing and acting, their desire for a better life. And yet, Faith confessed that 25% of the children are behind on their monthly school fees due to family issues. 

For three days, our eyes were opened and our hearts were moved by our school visits in Kenya. From the love of Jacinta and her United Mothers collective, to the hopes of Onesmus for the future of Trinity Academy, to the contagious optimism of Faith and her students, who increased our faith in the potential of the people of Kenya–we are inspired and awestruck by the people we have met."

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Jan 18, 2011

Microfinance Services Expand in India

This past December, The UPS Foundation, the charitable arm of UPS, has awarded Opportunity International a grant in the amount of $100,000. The grant fosters economic literacy, as well as improves access to affordable microfinance services in India.

“Opportunity International is grateful to The UPS Foundation for its dedication to helping impoverished families receive access to financial education and support,” said Dennis Ripley, our SVP of International Business Development. “Their support of our organization over the years has helped countless clients work their way out of poverty and toward a better life through entrepreneurship.”

In India, Opportunity’s mission is to serve people who do not have access to financial services. The grant from The UPS Foundation will help us expand our impact in the lives of Indian clients in both rural and urban communities.

The program funded by The UPS Foundation Grant includes microfinance services, such as Trust Group lending and financial literacy training programs on earning, spending, borrowing and budgeting. In addition, clients will benefit from insurance products provided by our subsidiary MicroEnsure, a leading insurance intermediary for people living in poverty.

“For nearly 40 years, [Opportunity] has fostered entrepreneurship in the developing world through education, savings programs, insurance services and training,” says Eduardo Martinez, director of philanthropy and corporate relations for The UPS Foundation. “We are proud to continue our support of Opportunity International’s efforts to increase economic literacy in India.”

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