Opportunity International

Our mission is to provide opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives. Our strategy is to create jobs, stimulate small businesses and strengthen communities among the poor. Our method is to work through sustainable local microfinance institutions that provide small business loans, savings, insurance and training. Our commitment is motivated by Jesus Christ's call to serve the poor. Our core values are respect, commitment to the poor, integrity and stewardship.
Jan 27, 2017

Winter 2017 Nicaragua Report

Each student was escorted by a family member.
Each student was escorted by a family member.

In December, the inaugural class graduated from Emprendedora Technical High School in Nicaragua, a country where more than 48% of children never reach the sixth grade. Founded in 2012, the high school is part of Opportunity International’s Community Economic Development (CED) strategy to build on the local assets in a community to grow the local economy through the development of small and medium enterprises. Opportunity’s initiatives in Nicaragua are based on self-identified community needs, and we then partner with the community to help them achieve their goals whether it’s building a school, repairing a church, creating new roads, or ensuring clean water through a new aqueduct system.

The school was founded with just two classrooms and 60 students with the hope that it would help lift an entire community out of poverty. This year, the Emprendedora High School reached full capacity with 300 students in grades 7 through 11. It’s one of the only schools accredited by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education (MINED) and the Technology National Institute (INATEC) which enables students to receive a technical degree in sustainable tourism or agriculture in addition to their high school diploma. The school is also accredited by Agriculture Best Practices (BPA) which promotes sustainable agriculture. The school has helped transform the entire community and runs several small agricultural and tourism businesses to give students real-world experience selling goods and services to cover the school’s operational costs.

One member of the class of 2016 is Roger. Four years ago, Roger had been expelled from a nearby school and without access to education he was destined to be trapped in poverty. Roger’s mother asked Opportunity to enroll him in the technical school and against all odds, Roger thrived; he was elected class president by his peers and graduated. During his studies at Emprendedora, he discovered he had a talent and passion for sales and hopes to start a business to raise and sell sheep.

Roger, is a reminder that talent is universal, but opportunity is not, and through your support, Opportunity will give more students like him the opportunity to succeed.

The first graduating class of Emprendedora
The first graduating class of Emprendedora
Roger receiving his diploma.
Roger receiving his diploma.

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Jan 26, 2017

Meet Nubia from Bogota, Colombia

Nubia with her hand-crafted gift bags.
Nubia with her hand-crafted gift bags.

In Nubia’s small neighborhood of Verbenal Sur, Colombia people look for any paying work they can find. Plagued with material poverty and battered by the ever-present wind and cold, day-to-day life in the mountain village can prove quite challenging. Given the economic and social barriers the hardworking residents face, Nubia was thrilled to land a job for a gift bag company when she was just 15 years old. She assembled bags from home and shipped them back to the company.

Building on her new skills, she eventually launched her own business making and selling hand-crafted gift bags. She started slowly, but Nubia joined an Opportunity Trust Group to give her fledgling business a jump start. She received a loan and was thrilled when she began training to improve her business skills.

Nubia invested her first Opportunity loan to purchase raw materials in bulk at much cheaper prices. Before long, she more than doubled her inventory and was able to purchase a used car to conduct business and make deliveries, opening the doors for her to achieve a whole new level of success. She even started creating birthday bags and packing them with treats to attract new customers. Today, Nubia’s business is a family affair. Her husband works as the salesman seeking out stores to sell her products, and at Christmastime, when sales are highest, Nubia hires 3-4 more people to deal with the seasonal rush.

Nubia has a dream to create employment opportunities for her whole family and even more neighbors. She envisions everyone working together to create their own brand and line of party supplies. Her oldest son is a talented artist, so Nubia hopes that he will eventually work as a designer – empowering them to create their own unique products. Her other two kids are still discovering their interests and skills, but she is confident that she can find a role for them in the family business if they desire. Eventually, Nubia hopes to save enough to purchase a plot of land to build a family store and home, a dream she is confident she will be able to achieve thanks to the support of Opportunity. 

Nubia at her workstation in her home.
Nubia at her workstation in her home.

Links:

Jan 24, 2017

Meet Martin - A Rice Farmer from Tanzania

Martin on his farm with his agricultural officers
Martin on his farm with his agricultural officers

Opportunity International is increasing financial access and reducing poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa through its innovative Agriculture Finance initiative. Four of every five Opportunity-supported farmers are achieving significant yield increases of up to 40%.

Martin is just one of these farmers who is farming smarter thanks to support from Opportunity International. For many years, he has tended to his rice farm to earn a living, but he struggled against drought and the rising costs of operating his farm as he tried to provide for his family. After joining Opportunity International, Martin received Opportunity loans in the form of seeds and fertilizer, giving him the inputs he needed to increase his yields. Martin was also connected to markets where he was assured the best prices for his crops, and he can spend less time bargaining with vendors. His loan repayment is also aligned with the day of his harvest – a result of Opportunity listening closely to our clients’ needs.

Martin continues to receive valuable training and advice from his Opportunity agricultural officer, who uses a tablet to measure his plot, track costs, monitor crop pricing and track productivity. He has already been able to save time by using his basic cell phone to manage his accounts, and in just one season, Martin increased his rice production by 1,700%. He also hired two field hands to assist with plowing, planting and harvesting, creating valuable jobs in his community. Now, Martin beams with pride when his children and grandchildren visit his farm and see the incredible progress he has made thanks to Opportunity.

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