Banking on Education

 
$1,110
$0
Raised
Remaining
In an Ahobrase classroom
In an Ahobrase classroom

Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school — and 70% of them 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.

Opportunity International sees investing in education as an instrumental component in helping our clients to break out of the cycle of poverty. With your support, Opportunity International is  funding children’s education by providing loans to proprietors to build and expand schools and  helping provide school fee loans to parents so they can send their children to school.

Meet one of our loan clients Comfort Appiah. Comfort saw that the children in her neighborhood needed access to a quality education. Today, she is an education finance loan client with Opportunity International and is the founder, owner and director of Ahobrase Academy in Accra, Ghana.

Ahobrase Academy began in 1998 as a small nursery in Comfort’s home. Comfort realized that the children in her neighborhood loitered and never attended classes, so she wanted to provide a place for them to learn. In the beginning, it was difficult. She had to go out into the community and bring these children, some without clothes or shoes, into her home for lessons and food. She would bathe, clothe and feed them. The next day, the children would either return naked again or they would not come back at all. After a while, a friend advised her to remove the clothes and slippers and send them home as they had arrived. This worked like magic — the children came back every day. Gradually, as the number of students grew, Comfort thought of ways to expand since Ahobrase was outgrowing her small porch.

In 2009, upon a friend’s advice, Comfort turned to Opportunity for a school proprietor loan that would provide capital to purchase a building and expand the school. Today, Ahobrase Academy serves more than 700 students from pre-school to junior high school with an education previously unavailable in their neighborhood. The school is a source of jobs, with 38 academic and non-teaching staff. Comfort’s dream is to complete the expansion of her school and to buy a larger school bus. She’s proud of the education that she and her husband are now able to give the local children.

Comfort and her husband in front of Ahobrase
Comfort and her husband in front of Ahobrase

As of December 31, 2012, 634 school proprietors are making better schools for marginalized children with Opportunity School Improvement Loans. Nearly doubling its outreach from 332 school loans the prior year, Opportunity is helping schools hire certified teachers and improve infrastructure like constructing additional classrooms or installing indoor plumbing. Additionally, Opportunity’s School Fee loans are helping parents keep kids in school – there was 156% growth since last year. Highlights include:   

  • Rwanda and Kenya joined the initiative this year, soon to add Dominican Republic and Philippines.
  • Opportunity Malawi and Rwanda launched Secondary School Fee loans in early 2013.
  • Opportunity Ghana doubled its number of School Fee loans during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Based on client feedback, Opportunity Kenya launched a School Fee loan in March 2013. 

Links:

Madam Evelyn
Madam Evelyn

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: 

Uganda

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:

  • Opportunity Uganda developed a Youth Savings account to encourage parents to save for school tuition and costs associated with education. The product is now expected to roll out with the completion of savings awareness training and marketing materials.
  • The bank signed an agreement to partner with Educate!, an organization committed to education in Uganda. Educate! Is an experiential learning and mentoring program that provides support to young leaders and potential entrepreneurs across Uganda. Through their advocacy efforts, the leadership and entrepreneurship curriculum they write in partnership with the government of Uganda and International Labor Organization reaches up to 25,000 students per year, like those pictured right. Opportunity Uganda is partnering to provide awareness around the importance of savings and access to the newly developed Youth Savings accounts to Educate! students. The project is expected to roll out later in 2012.

India

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.

  • Growing Opportunity Finance awards 75% of its scholarships to female students.
  • Go Finance also awards two-year scholarships to students in the latter years of high school.
  • Feedback has shown that the scholarship program is serving as an excellent platform for students like Vincent, pictured right, to reach their goals and secure their futures.
  • Vincent is just one worthy recipient of the two-year scholarship to Ebenezer Matriculation School. He achieved among the highest scores in the state on several high school exams and yet his family’s financial situation threatened to impede his dream to pursue Computer Engineering. Please join us in celebrating Vincent’s recent news of his placement in the prestigious Anna University in Chennai. 

Links:

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.

Innovative Products

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.

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Ally Lynch

Oak Brook, Illinois United States

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