India has the largest concentration of the poor globally, with over 840 million people living on less than $2 per day. Opportunity is achieving widespread impact in India through 14 institutions, including Growing Opportunity Finance, serving 1.4 million clients through 739 branches across 190 districts in 19 states.
India has the largest concentration of the poor globally, but since October 2010, microfinance investors and lenders throughout India were forced to slow lending or step out. In December 2011, the Reserve Bank amended microfinance regulations to allow some microfinance practitioners with proven fair practices, like Opportunity, to reengage in the microfinance sector. Our Dia Vikas partners like Growing Opportunity Finance (GO Finance) are positioned to return to our former level of growth and impact in India.
One of the ways Opportunity creates a better future for Indian women is through our education finance loans. We believe the most basic but essential building block of empowering people to work their way out of poverty is education. This is more than common sense, there are facts, including these from USAID, to back it up. A few of the most alarming:
Opportunity International is working toward the day when all girls have access to an education. We provide school fee loans in India so parents can afford their children’s tuition. Our loans and business training for school proprietors help them build schools and hire teachers. When a girl is sent to school, she has the chance for a healthier, more hopeful future with choices her mother never had. With more education, girls marry later and have fewer children, the country's economy improves and government corruption declines.
These are the opportunities that are now available to Ramya, a 1st grader in India who is a recipient of a scholarship from our Education Finance program in India. Ramya wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and she knows that getting a good education now is the only way she will be able to achieve her dreams. Some of our donors had the chance to meet Ramya during an Insight Trip to visit our work in India, and she was thrilled to share her dreams and hopes with them. With her scholarship from Opportunity, these dreams can now someday become a reality.
Thank you for all your support in helping girls like Ramya build a better future!
Many women in India struggle to find the money to send their children to school. So a few years ago, Opportunity launched a school loan problem to help educate the future generations.
The Banking on Education pilot at Growing Opportunity Finance commenced in May 2010, focusing primarily on school fee loans, with a supplementary scholarship program. Both of these products are helping establish credibility and trust with clients and have created inroads with schools to promote scholastic leadership. As of December 2011, Opportunity India has 2,080 active school fee loans with an outstanding loan portfolio valuing $96,267, up from $68,075 in June 2011.
Plans for 2012 include:
Mercy comes from a lower middle class family, her father works as a caregiver earning about $3 per day to support his entire family. Mercy says she is grateful to Opportunity India for supporting her education. “I feel that with the scholarship I can now focus on my studies putting me in a position to achieve my dream to become a Software Engineer. The scholarship reduced my parent’s burden significantly and it gave me a new commitment toward my studies.” The scholarship covered most of the costs and she says finishing school will bring great honor to her family. She plans to achieve all she can to share that honor with her school and with Opportunity India. “I am grateful to Opportunity India.”
Empowering Indian Women
Opportunity’s Indian microfinance organizations disburse 99.6% of their loans to women. In addition to group loans and financial training, each institution seeks to meet the needs of its clients by building partnerships to help them succeed. Some highlights of these transformational collaborations include:
Meet Radhika of Hyderabad, India, a Woman Empowered by Opportunity
Radhika’s home bustles with customers wanting to buy baskets and flower decorations for special events. Business is going well. Flowers fill almost every spare space in the house, and long reeds lie neatly stacked on the floor, ready to be woven into baskets. Out front, a sign reads ‘Bhanu Prasad Flower Decorations,’ alerting passersby to the creations hidden inside. The sign is a recent addition to the business, paid for by a loan. Before it was there, business was not so good for Radhika and her husband. With no way of advertising their products, they often went days without selling a thing.Hunger was a common reality. Radhika’s story is a testament that when a hard-working entrepreneur is empowered by microfinance, the results are truly transformative for both the entrepreneur and their family. By improving their business, the loan they received paved a way out of poverty for Radhika and her husband. The couple’s business is thriving and they have a steady flow of regular customers in their community.
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