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Jul 26, 2019

Ending Extreme Poverty in Uganda

Opportunity
Opportunity's work in Uganda and beyond

Uganda, a vibrant and diverse country in East Africa, is also one of the world’s poorest, ranking 162 out of 189 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index. In Uganda, 41% of people live in poverty, and almost half of Uganda’s total population is under the age of 15, representing one of the youngest populations in the world. However, the country’s recent strides in poverty alleviation, reducing hunger, mobile connectivity, and women’s empowerment indicate a strong trajectory toward rapid and inclusive economic development.

UGANDA BY THE NUMBERS

  • 42.7M total population
  • 76% of the population lives in rural areas
  • 41% of people live on less than $1.90 per day
  • 33% have an account at a financial institution
  • 6.3% GDP growth projected for 2019
  • 5.8 children, on average, per family
  • 72% of the workforce is employed in agriculture
  • 51% of children complete primary education

ABOUT OPPORTUNITY UGANDA

In Uganda, Opportunity International partners with its local financial institution partner, Opportunity Bank of Uganda, Limited (OBUL), a leading savings and loans company in Uganda, to expand access to tailored financial services and training for families living poverty. Together, Opportunity and OBUL are reaching families in all four of Opportunity’s regions (Central, Western, Eastern, and Northern).

With access to tailored financial services, relevant training, and support groups and networks, low-income families are growing small businesses, farms, and local schools to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and unlock more opportunities for their children through quality education.

Opportunity’s industry-leading program teams in Education, Agriculture, and Digital Financial Inclusion are working with partners like OBUL to reach more families in need with effective, sustainable solutions that ensure families can break the cycle of poverty and stay out of poverty, for good.

MICROBUSINESS OWNERS

  • Small loans provide capital to grow their business
  • Savings accounts offer a safe place to keep their income
  • Training in financial literacy and digital literacy help less-educated individuals learn skills to effectively grow their income and use mobile phones to access services
  • Trust Groups and Savings Groups connect clients to a local network of their peers to learn from, work with, and encourage each other

SMALLHOLDER FARMERS

  • Agricultural loans provide capital at the right time to purchase inputs and supplies to grow higher-yielding crops, especially for coffee (a main crop grown in Uganda)
  • Mobile phone banking makes it more convenient for rural clients to save and make payments
  • Training in Good Agricultural Practices and support from a local Farmer Support Agent improves farmers’ technical skills in cultivation, farm management, and sales

CHILDREN & YOUTH

  • School Improvement loans help school leaders invest in infrastructure and staffing improvements to local schools
  • School Fee loans enable parents to pay for educational costs upfront, ensuring their children do not need to drop out when household cash is low
  • School clusters help local educators learn from each other and improve conditions for learning at their schools, preparing students with a higher quality education

Thanks to your support, families working their way out of poverty in Uganda have access to these life-changing programs and services. Thank you!

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Jul 17, 2019

Targeting Extreme Poverty: Rural Families

Abdul and her children
Abdul and her children

Abdul works as a rice processor in rural Ghana—she purchases bags of harvested rice from her neighboring farmers, then dries and mills it before selling to vendors. Before, Abdul was able to purchase 2 bags of rice per week, from which she earned about $10. Fortunately, after meeting a loan officer through her farmer group, Abdul opened her first bank account with Opportunity and took out her first loan. She used her loan to purchase more bags of rice and has since grown her production to 10 bags per week, multiplying her income. Though Abdul never finished school, she is proud to say her three children will. Today, she is saving to pay for her middle daughter’s school exams, which will allow her to begin secondary school in the fall. Abdul's family is like many in Africa.

An estimated 80% of people living in extreme poverty live in rural regions, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly half of whom are children. For these families, smallholder farming is the most common way to provide for themselves. However, farming can be one of the riskiest jobs in the world for families living in developing communities. Severe weather, crop diseases, or bad seed can destroy an entire season’s harvest – and when your livelihood depends on just one or two harvests a year, it can mean your children go hungry for months, and drop out of school until you can afford to send them back.

Nearly two-thirds of all poor working adults – rural and urban – earn a living through agriculture. Expanding economic opportunities in agriculture will be one of the most important sectors to eradicate extreme poverty over the next decade, which will require dedicated efforts toward breaking the cycle of low-productivity smallholder farming that keeps the majority of rural families in poverty, season after season. 

Opportunity’s Approach

Opportunity’s model is structured to bring effective, sustainable, and low-cost financial and training services to families living in poverty in hard to reach regions of the world. Within each country, Opportunity works through local financial institution partners and our industry-leading program teams to implement our three-pronged approach for building sustainable livelihoods:

  1. Provision of tailored agricultural financial services – to increase investment in productive agricultural assets, such as seed, fertilizer, or irrigation equipment
  2. Training in relevant skills – to increase knowledge in agricultural best-practices to improve their farms and financial literacy to improve management of household finances
  3. Support groups and networks – to increase empowerment and social cohesion among farmer groups to drive the changes they wish to see in their communities

Thank you for your continued support! This work would not be possible without you. 

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Jul 16, 2019

Lasting Impact in Africa

Odita and her husband
Odita and her husband

Odita (pictured above) and her family fled D.R. Congo when violence took the lives of 12 relatives. Starting over in Uganda with nothing was frightening. Odita shared, "We worked hard to support the children, but we failed. Today, thanks to Opportunity, we have a farm where we grow my favorite crop - tomatoes." With enough income to send their four kids to school, Odita proudly exclaimed, "We are respected in our community because of what we have achieved!"

Your support helps families like Odita's receive the tools and training they need to escape poverty. Our targeted approach combines financial services, life values training, women's empowerment, farmer support, and education initiatives for children that address the key barriers African families face as they work their way out of poverty for good. During 2018:

  • 300,000 clients across sub-Saharan Africa were investing microbusiness loans to increase incomes and build sustainable livelihoods. More than 1.3 million African families maintained their progress out of poverty by safely saving their hard-earned income.
  • 65,000 farmers were empowered with tailored AgFinance loans, training, and market support to grow their small farms and produce abundant harvests.
  • 430,000 African children and youth were benefitting from more access to higher-quality education, thanks to 12,000 new School Fee loans and 1,500 School Improvement loans.

Harvesting hope for the future

With your help, 65,000 farmer families across sub­ Saharan Africa are increasing their farm productivity, financial stability, and they are growing more food for their families and communities. They achieved this by using loans for seeds, fertilizer, and crop transport. We linked them with processors, buyers, and markets and provided them with training in financial and digital literacy and modern farming practices. 2018 AgFinance program outcomes included:

  • 37,000 loans made to farmers, of which 53% were made to women, with a combined value of $15 million.
  • 17,000 digitally profiled farmers provided the data we use to design-focused services that align with their expressed needs.
  • Nearly 2,500 Opportunity Mozambique farmers lost their homes and farms during Cyclone ldai and 600 Malawian partner farmers experienced massive crop loss due to a subsequent major hailstorm. We will stand alongside them as they recover and rebuild.

Education redefined for Africa's next generation

EduFinance fosters inclusive learning environments and opportunities for increased access to education by offering sustainable, scalable services. A few recent key learnings shaping the program and demonstrating its positive benefits for African communities, schools, families, and students include:

  • Teachers increased classroom innovations. Teachers in Uganda have increased their ability to innovate more because they have gained confidence and new ideas through our EduQuality program training.
  • Students improved learning outcomes. Over three years, girls who attend Opportunity Uganda partner-funded schools improved literacy by 64% and numeracy by 32%.
  • Women clients supported their children's education. Women clients across five countries shared that they were actively supporting their children's education and happy in their success.
  • Schools created and sustained jobs in their communities. An estimated 185 new full- and part-time jobs were created by 75 Opportunity-financed Ugandan schools over three years.

By supporting Opportunity, you help us design, deliver, and scale innovative solutions to sustainably transform families and communities. Thank you! 

 
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