Help bring Financial Stability to Uganda

 
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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.

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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.

Justine, Uganda
Justine, Uganda

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. 

  • Farmer LoansLoans help farmers pay expenses during the growing season. Opportunity Uganda maps and profiles clients’ farms, enabling the bank to customize lending to their needs.
  • Savings: Opportunity Uganda offers personal and fixed deposit accounts. The bank is poised to launch ExtraSave, which encourages clients to deposit a little more than their loan repayment amounts; and AgroSave, which incorporatesinsurance coverage into farmer savings accounts, helping ensure farmers’ food security.
  • Education Finance: School proprietor loans help education entrepreneurs expand classroom capacity, improve sanitation and enhance classroom technology. EduSave, an insurance-linked education-specific savings product developed with our insurance subsidiary, MicroEnsure, helps children continue to pay tuition in the event they lose their family income through a parent’s death or disability.
  • Home Improvement Loans: Conventional banks generally fail or ignore loan requests for low-cost shelter. Opportunity International and Habitat for Humanity work together to provide home improvement financing, housing support services and technical construction assistance to impoverished people in Uganda, as well as Ghana and Malawi.
  • Solar Panel Loans: A solar panel loan (approximately US$300) covers panels and installation, to bring light to families living without electricity. The energy the panels absorb from the sun helps families efficiently light their homes and businesses so they can extend their hours of income- or school-based productivity.

Evans Ssenabulya and his wife, Roy, have three daughters under the age of eight. Like most parents, it was impossible for Evans to ignore the importance of investing in education as he watched his three beautiful girls grow up. He also noticed how many children in the community, mostly girls, were removed from school when their families became unable to cover expenses. In 2007, Evans decided to do something. He started a school of 100 students in a small wooden structure on a rented plot of land. Now, just six years later, he owns the land and has grown the Ridgeway School into a day and boarding program serving over 900 students. 

If you ask him, Evans will say that Opportunity International helped advance his dreams far beyond what he thought possible. Through three loans and a corresponding savings account, he was able to purchase land, construct buildings and open a retail store selling scholastic materials. Evans won’t stop there; he continues to dream about brighter futures for his students. He plans to refurbish and expand the existing facilities, increase enrollment to 5000, and introduce computer technology and life skills into the curriculum to better equip his students for the future. 

Opportunity believes that education should be a right, not a privilege and here’s what we are doing to help in Uganda.

Education Finance Products – 

With 99 active School Improvement loans and an outstanding portfolio valuing $1.5 million, Opportunity Uganda more than doubled the number of schools it added to its Banking on Education portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, Opportunity Uganda has transformed 122 schools since the program onset. Opportunity Uganda: 

  • Distributed 10,714 School Fee loans cumulatively, mainly through the Trust Group model, making a substantial impact on the number of clients who can now send their children to school. 
  • Provided 4,358 with School Fee loans this year helping families send their kids off to school. 
  • Is poised to launch EduSave, an education insurance product tied to savings accounts, in 2013.  

Opportunity’s EduSave product, designed with MicroEnsure enables parents to earn an extra safety net for their children’s education. EduSave works when a parent saves enough money to qualify for free insurance. For example, when a parent saves $25 they qualify for $125 in school fees insurance – if they die or become permanently disabled, a trusted individual receives a payout of 5x the savings balance to keep the child in school. The product launched in Malawi with 170,000 parents qualified for coverage on the first day. Our average savings account holder has 3.8 children – therefore, on its first day, EduSave covered 646,000 Malawian children. The product also went live on a national scale in Ghana in early 2013.

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Project Leader

Ally Lynch

Oak Brook, Illinois United States

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Map of Help bring Financial Stability to Uganda