Because of you, we can continue to invest in farmers like Elizabeth Afrakome as we expand deeper into rural farming communities like Adagya, where she lives and where the daily challenges associated with poverty hit the hardest. The Afrakome family was producing and selling enough cocoa to provide for the family - until Elizabeth’s husband suffered a stroke three years ago. As the family’s sole provider Elizabeth struggled to maintain the farm and keep the family fed. Now, in addition to loans and training, Opportunity Ghana provides her with access to a safe place to save and with the protection of insurance. Elizabeth is grateful for the opportunity you created so that she can provide her children with the education she never had.
“Today, I rest easier because my children are secure; I can save for education and for medicine when they become ill. I feel respected by my neighbors – I never imagined I could be the woman helping others in my community. Until now.” With Opportunity’s help, parents like Elizabeth are able to capitalize on their skills with newfound confidence, and begin to take steps up the rungs of the economic ladder, achieving tangible gains for the whole family.
In March 2011, Opportunity International officially opened the doors to a regulated microfinance institution with a pending deposit-taking license application, headquartered in Kinshasa, DRC. Now in its first 18 months of operations, the institution is serving 5,184 active loan clients, more than doubling its outreach from one year ago.
Opportunity Congo has strategically placed its first two branches in large Kinshasa marketplaces: Masina and Gambela. In these vibrant markets, thousands of small-scale entrepreneurs like Henriette Balundu, pictured, who once struggled to earn a profit, are using increased incomes to improve the well-being of their families with greater access to nutritious food, clean water and education.
As Opportunity DR Congo gains momentum and brand recognition, it is achieving its targets to transform Congolese families. The institution is on track to achieve the following:
Thanks to your generous support, our work is continuing and expanding across the entire continent of Africa. Here are some highlights from our branches in three of the countries we work in:
In Kenya, you are bringing training to hardworking entrepreneurs
Under new leadership, more than 8,000 Kenyan Trust Group members are reaping the benefits of robust financial literacy training, support and mentoring along with access to new skills to manage their small businesses while vastly improving quality of life for their families and communities. During the first half of 2012, activity highlights for Opportunity Kenya include:
You helped Opportunity grow in Tanzania
As we gather momentum in Tanzania, more parents go to market each day armed with the capital, training and support they need to increase their income and provide for their families. The loans your funding makes possible are delivered through Opportunity’s core Trust Group model. In addition, Opportunity Tanzania achieved the following:
You brought success to struggling farmers and families in Ghana
Opportunity Ghana continues to achieve growth in its outreach to families with microloans and the provision of savings. The bank is providing staff and clients a robust series of financial literacy and personal and social growth trainings that transform the entire family. Today, more than 7,000 farmers are benefiting from the broad range of services offered through Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance Initiative, and the bank has enabled 363 schools to increase capacity and quality through its Education program. Clients like Vivian are implementing what they learn coupled with the financial services they need to make their dreams a reality.
A natural entrepreneur, Vivian instinctually knew how to transform what started as a table-top slipper display into a larger stall situated in a better location. “I always had a sense of what would sell in my community and how to display it nicely. I approach business with a positive attitude and a spirit of hard work.” What she lacked, however, was the capital to make it happen.
Today, selling a variety of supplies that she thoughtfully selects and displays to fill the needs of her community, Vivian uses her natural business skills coupled with strategically invested loans and training to operate a thriving business. Vivian is investing her eighth loan of $518 to purchase a freezer that will allow her to sell cold foods and beverages.
As a result of her partnership with Opportunity Ghana, Vivian testifies that her life has taken a whole new direction. “I thank God for leading me to OISL to impact my life, and may the Lord richly bless them in return.”
Vivian formed the dream; you gave her the opportunity to make it a reality. On behalf of Vivian and more than a million other families, thank you very much for your partnership.
Rural Expansion Program: You helped us bank on Africa’s farmers
Approximately 70% of Africans work in agriculture and these households are some of the poorest in the world. Opportunity found that farmers in Africa are producing at only 40% of their potential because they cannot access the needed best-practice information, financing and markets. With your help we work with small-scale farmers in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda to adopt more productive agriculture practices, link up with buyers and extension service providers, and access inputs to grow more food.
Opportunity spent 2010 and 2011 working with small-scale farmers and learning from them which financial tools and services they need to succeed. In 2012, Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance team aims to bring services closer to clients using mobile phone banking. This gives clients access to their funds from their own rural village, and uses GPS to capture household data and map out farm plots that show how to get the best return from their land.
The Agriculture Finance program has grown tremendously from its start with Malawian groundnut and tobacco farmers nearly five years ago.
A message from John Magnay, Opportunity’s resident agriculture specialist
“With 70% of Africans directly involved in agriculture, if you do not target them you will miss some of the very poorest people in the world. With your help we are optimizing the utilization of microfinance by helping farmers adopt good agriculture practices, links to buyers and extension service providers and access to input to help them achieve optimum output. The close of 2011 marked the end of the pilot phase of Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance initiative. Having refined the model and accumulated a wealth of knowledge during the pilot phase we are eager to kick off a period of high impact and growth. We have grand expectations for achieving scalability in 2012 and beyond. In the next phase we hope to bring services closer to clients using the mobile phone to give clients access to their funds from their own rural village, and using GPS to capture household data and to locate farms. These will be piloted in 2012-13. Best Regards, John”
A year ago, Opportunity has launched the Banking on Africa Campaign. The campaign aims to bring millions of Sub-Saharan Africans closer to the day when they can safely deposit their savings, access loans to grow businesses, and purchase affordable insurance to protect their families—right in their own communities. Check out a photo tour below of some of the countries we’re serving in Sub-Saharan Africa.
DR Congo: Mwembu Moseka, Miriam Lusanku and Odile Mutambu are part of a 12-member Trust Group that is comprised of stallholders in the Freedom market in Kinshasa.
Kenya: Millicent Wahiga, a seamstress in Nairobi displays some of her work
Ghana: Agnes Fosu Hene, an Opportunity International client, talks with her loan officer Abena Agyakowa Nketha Sarpong while examining her cocoa beans.
Malawi: Sinyala Chafala and her loan officer meet in her tea field near Mulanje
Rwanda: Our mobile banks in the Rwamagana District serves remote and rural Rwandan clients.
South Africa: With Opportunity South Africa, Thiembe Radebe has improved his welding business and been able to better provide for his family
Uganda: The students of the Kyebando Bright Community Nursery and Primary School in Kampala, which is supported by school proprietor loans from Opportunity Uganda.
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