The first thing Madam Evelyn Nuku noticed upon moving to Santa Maria, Ghana ten years ago was that the community did not have a school. Having studied to become a teacher, this weighed on Evelyn immensely. Before long, her concern that began as a seed blossomed into a plan. With a heart for children and a true entrepreneurial spirit, Evelyn didn’t waste any time opening the doors to the Best Way Grammar Academy, a tiny wooden structure with seven students enrolled.
Today, Best Way, now constructed from concrete block, is the school of choice for 300 students ranging from preschool to junior high school. When asked what makes her school special, Evelyn says, “I have learned to use capital strategically to expand my school and meet the needs of the families in Santa Maria.” As one of the first schools to benefit from Opportunity Ghana’s Education Finance initiative she has been accessing loans and training since 2004. “I feed my students two meals per day, giving their parents peace knowing they may not have eaten otherwise. My tuition is affordable and I hire the best teachers. This is how I can express my love for children and for education.” Evelyn is confident she will fulfill her goal to add a computer lab and a high school program.
We are working to expand our education finance program across the world, but two countries that continue to have the most successful programs are Uganda and India. Read some recent highlights:
Opportunity Uganda’s Banking on Education pilot is serving 94 schools with active loans, up 20% from 2011 year-end. Opportunity Uganda has slowed lending to avoid over-indebting entrepreneurs during a time of double digit inflation and spiking food costs throughout the country. Opportunity is assessing client surveys and market conditions to determine when to resume lending to school proprietors.
Opportunity Uganda continues to provide families with student loans covering school fees and expenses to keep children in school. As of June 30, 2012 the current active school fee loans grew to 5,042, up tenfold from the Q4 2011 low of 568, with an outstanding portfolio valuing $677,560. Other highlights include:
As of June 30, 2012, Growing Opportunity Finance in Chennai, India has 764 active school fee loans helping families cover the expenses including school fees and books. The outstanding school fee loan portfolio values $17,786. Student loans are currently on hold at GO Finance due to lack of funding. In the meantime the institution is improving its credit policies for the product to include a credit check to confirm identification and ensure clients do not become over-indebted due to outstanding loans with other institutions.
GO Finance has also provided scholarships to 108 families. GO Finance believes through this scholarship program that educating children has an impact not only on the individual, but the family and the community as a whole. GO’s Scholarship program is intended to help students break the cycle of poverty and to harness their talent to make them productive members of society.
All parents around the world share the same dream: to see their children educated and attaining a better life. Opportunity International’s Banking on Education initiative increases access to schooling by offering financial products tailored to schools and families. Your support is providing growth capital to small non-governmental schools in underserved neighborhoods to develop infrastructure, hire new teachers and improve meal programs, and parents are gaining access to school savings accounts and school fee loans. As of December 2011, Opportunity’s Education Finance portfolio consisted of three main components. The first is school proprietor loans to 332 schools with a combined total of nearly $3 million in outstanding loans, an increase of 26% since 2010 year-end. School fee loans to 2,648 families are helping parents budget education into their uncertain household cash flow; and finally, school savings accounts help parents put aside money to educate their children.
School Loans – Through the Banking on Education program, a school proprietor can obtain long-term loans of $5,000 to $25,000 to add classrooms, improve infrastructure and hire qualified teachers. Business and community leadership training, as well as ongoing mentoring, helps school proprietors create and implement a successful business plan. With higher quality schools, children also benefit from improved nutrition, sanitation and clean water.
School Fee Loans – Opportunity provides school fee loans, enabling parents to pay tuition. When families are given access to these small school fee loans, they are able to make payments over time that are compatible with their cash flow. These products reduce the barriers that families often face when sending their children to school.
Child Savings Accounts – Child savings accounts are specialized, interest-bearing savings accounts available to parents. These accounts promote financial discipline for families wanting to save for their children’s education. In the event of a loss of a parent or guardian, the savings remain an asset of the child.
Naomi Amenya’s eyes sparkle as she gives words of encouragement to the 150 children, including 80 orphans, under her care. Naomi operates Royal Seed Home & School on the road to the Cape Coast in Ghana. Children at Royal Seed learn English, math, grammar and environmental science and are fed two meals every day. The school’s campus consists of classrooms, a dormitory for orphaned children and a small plot where Naomi raises chickens, rabbits and goats.
Naomi became an Opportunity client six years ago. Her loan officer recognized that she was a good credit risk in spite of her lack of collateral or credit history. And in fact she has successfully paid off all of her previous loans, using them to build a kitchen and additional classrooms onto Royal Seed. Naomi’s vision is to continuously enlarge her “shelter of hope” for as many children as possible in Ghana and beyond.
As part of Opportunity’s Banking on Education program, we invest in schools by providing proprietor loans. Proprietors use the loans to hire qualified teachers, improve infrastructures, expand classrooms, provide nutritious meals and purchase much-needed equipment. To help schools succeed and become sustainable, Opportunity also offers tailored training and business advice. These educational entrepreneurs, in turn, provide children with a quality education that empowers them with the skills and abilities to get higher-paying jobs, build strong families and help in the economic development of their communities.
Almost 45% of students who begin first grade in the most impoverished countries in the world do not complete their primary education. Opportunity seeks to decrease this by providing loans for schools.
Enter one of our education finance clients, Daisy Muthoni John, who runs a school of children upto class six in Kitengela-Nairobi, Kenya. She has a passion and love for children and that is why she started a school business. She says that she likes being around children all the time. She spends most of her time managing the school though she has employed ten workers. Nine teachers and one cook. She hopes to have the school as a full primary school and wishing to see the first candidates for her school seat for national examination.
She joined Opportunity to get a 52 week loan to furnish classes for her school to create a better environment for students to learn. She currently makes a profit of Kes 20,000 and hopes to double this amount once the classes are complete as more pupils will be admitted into the school.
She is married and blessed with three children who are also studying in her school. The profits from the school have also helped her cater for needs of his family. Through an Opportunity loan, Daisy has transformed her own life, the life of her family and the lives those within her community.
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