2014 was year of collaboration and growth for Opportunity Uganda, which closed the year with active loans to 28,982 entrepreneurs. But loans are only one of the tools Opportunity continues to use to empower people living in extreme poverty.
Opportunity Uganda disbursed $2.8 million in loans to farmers who raise livestock and grow bananas, coffee, cotton, maize and sugarcane. They also collaborated with the Uganda Coffee Farmer Alliance to reach 2,500 coffee farmers and with Joseph Initiative to empower 1,000 maize farmers. A partnership with John Deere also changed the lives of several farmers who have dreamed of owning their own tractors. Opportunity Uganda financed five farmers and another 17 are eagerly awaiting approval for their tractors.
Opportunity Uganda also customized school fee loans for farmer families who earn seasonal income and struggle to keep their children in school between harvests, resulting in a 22% growth in lending over the prior year. Schools themselves were also supported through School Improvement loans which were given to 41 institutions to improve sanitation and build new classrooms. 35,250 students were positively impacted by these school improvements, and the loans helped provide numerous communities with quality educational facilities.
Ridgeway School is one of many schools that has grown as a result of school improvement loans from Opportunity. Evans founded Ridgeway Primary School in 2007 with just 100 students, holding lessons in a dilapidated wooden structure on a rented plot of land. Determined to provide a better environment for his students and his three daughters, Evans obtained a series of Opportunity International loans. As a result of his hard work and passion for education, Evans has built a boarding facility, purchased land and constructed a primary school building serving 915 students. Evans’ dream to educate Ugandan students is evident through his efforts to improve the school which has attracted highly qualified teachers and local families. His goal is to expand the school to 5,000 students and provide students with life skills and computer literacy training before they advance to secondary school.
By supporting the dreams of clients like Evans, Opportunity can empower entrepreneurs to raise themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.
Opportunity Uganda’s operations are expanding to empower thousands of marginalized individuals. Opportunity currently reaches more than 27,000 clients with loan services and upwards of 105,000 Ugandans hold savings accounts. Savings outreach grew by 20% in the first half of 2014 alone. Three new branches were opened in 2013, and now clients all over Uganda have access to Opportunity’s services offered in 19 branches. In addition to new branches, cell phone banking and additional ATMs and mobile banking vehicles were introduced in 2014 and have increased accessibility to financial services for clients ranging from smallholder farmers to school proprietors.
Financial services enable clients to improve their businesses, gain access to education, provide adequate nutrition for their families and transform their communities. Given this information, Opportunity recognizes the need to improve financial literacy so that clients are able to make the most of the loan, savings and insurance products Opportunity offers. In addition to the traditional four week loan orientation program for new clients, Opportunity Uganda has launched a financial literacy “soap opera” training series that is broadcasted via radio and television in local languages. This creative training mechanism has gained popularity, and viewers and listeners find it both funny and informative. Opportunity’s financial training is not limited to adults; The Youth Financial Education program was recently launched in Uganda to provide financial education and employability training to youth. Opportunity has partnered with education organization Aflatoun, whose curriculum provides students with training on basic financial and enterprise-related themes, encouraging student commitment to education and employment.
The new training modules inform clients about how best to use the variety of financial products Opportunity offers. Recently added products have been designed to increase child saving and improve access to education. Opportunity Uganda has introduced a Child Savings Account, allowing a parent or guardian to open an account for their child. The account restricts withdrawals to one per month to encourage long-term saving to use toward costs like education. The Education Finance initiative has provided School Improvement loans for 108 school proprietors and has assisted 4,552 families with School Fee loans to cover education costs. Opportunity continues to serve thousands of Ugandan clients with a wide range of financial services and training programs developed to help empower the marginalized to rise out of poverty.
By investing in technology and education, Opportunity Uganda is improving farmer yields and keeping children in school, fending off the pangs of the hungry season and promoting a brighter future.
In 2013, Opportunity Uganda opened three new mobile banks and four ATMs. This, combined with the launch of cell phone banking, means that clients have fewer expenses and easier access to financial services. As of December 2013, 1800 clients were using mobile banking, eliminating the time and danger of traveling long distances while handling cash. Technology helps with crop production as well: using GPS technology provided by the Grameen Foundation, Opportunity Uganda agriculture officers were able to map out farmers’ cocoa plots, diagnose crop diseases, and obtain market information.
School loans are also a priority for Opportunity Uganda. In the next two years, Opportunity plans to support an additional 30 school proprietors with School Improvement loans, bettering education for 7500 students. School Fee loans, which help keep children in school even if their parents cannot afford tuition, are being expanded as well: Opportunity plans to reach an additional 3000 students by February 2016.
Opportunity Uganda opened the doors of three new branches in 2013, bringing the total to 19 branches across the country. These 19 branches serve over 100,000 clients — a growth of 26% from 2012 — all of whom are investing in and working toward their dreams.
Mother to 11 children, Justine lives on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, where more than one meal a day is a luxury and education is a mere dream. Following the death of her sister to AIDS, she was faced with the daunting task of caring for her three orphaned nieces and nephews. Justine found support from Opportunity Uganda. She used her first loan to launch a pig farm—with just two pigs—right in her own back yard. Ten years later, having gained confidence and extensive training in business management, Justine owns 40 pigs and a retail shop that her son manages.
Thanks to Opportunity’s Education Finance program, Justine can take advantage of school fee loans that allow her to cover her children’s tuition, textbooks, uniforms and supplies and repay over the course of the school year from her business proceeds. Additionally, Opportunity Uganda’s recent launch of the EduSave plan assures Justine that her children’s education will continue in the event of her death or disablement. All she has to do to earn the free school fee insurance is to make qualifying deposits into her savings account.
Like most Opportunity clients, Justine doesn’t believe in impossible.
Because of you, Justine is unstoppable.
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.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.