At Opportunity International’s Fifth Annual Congress of Leaders, our staff celebrated the continuation of Opportunity’s work and the lives of our clients in Colombia. Clients like, Basilia and Omaira. Basilia, who now leads a life of dignity, having worked hard to utilize her loans to transform her house into a safe, comfortable home for her family. Omaira represents what it looks like to live with empathy. After receiving loans that created opportunities to better her own life, she changed someone else’s by giving a plot of her land to another family. As our programs grow, so will our ability to provide the opportunities necessary for people like Basilia and Omaira to better their own lives and the lives of others.
Opportunity continues to reach an increasing number of clients in Colombia. From 2014 to 2017, Opportunity has increased the number of savings accounts from 24,816 to 49,604 accounts. Despite economic challenges in 2017 which made growth in loan services difficult, Opportunity reached an additional 1,000 small business clients in the first few months of 2018, increasing our number of loan clients from 6,180 to 7,282.
Opportunity’s partner NGO, AGAPE, also expanded its reach in 2017. Over the course of the year, AGAPE conducted 2,438 training sessions, including training of 498 Trust Group leaders. In order to fight the difficulty of household instability, AGAPE also provided 188 families with technical assistance for the Roof & Floor home improvement program.
Opportunity Colombia continues to progress its Educational Finance program. The model of EduFinance provides loans for both the providers and recipients of education. First, Opportunity offers School Fee Loans to allow families with inconsistent income to pay the payments required at the start of the school year. In 2017, the EduFinance program in Colombia provided families with 491 School Fee Loans to support the educational costs of approximately 1,525 children. Opportunity also works to create better schooling opportunities for children through its School Improvement Loans. These loans used by educators and providers who are running private schools with quality education options for children. Educators used 414 School Improvement Loans in 2017, amounting to $754,540 in loans to enhance education quality through improved infrastructure such as better classrooms and gender-separated bathrooms.
Finally, Opportunity’s partner, AGAPE worked hard in 2017 to create awareness and move clients toward clean water resources. 289 individuals from 11 Trust Groups participated in training aimed at creating awareness of the danger in consuming unsafe water. As a result of the pilot program, 52 clients indicated their interest in obtaining a BioSand water filter in the future.
Thanks to your donations, clients like Basilia and Omaira have access to the tools and training they need to support their families in Colombia.
Maria is a dedicated wife and mother-to-be who wants nothing more than to support her child when it is born. Growing up, she was very poor. She didn’t go to school, and she didn’t have any support. Even though she searched and searched for work, supporting herself seemed hopeless. Thankfully, her friends saw her desire to work. They advised her to join an Opportunity International Trust Group. She used her first loan to launch a business and worked very hard, ultimately repaying the loan without any problems. Today, she is investing her fifth loan and has successfully built a thriving eatery that is a favorite among locals. She started with absolutely nothing and has grown to become an inspiration among the women in her community, with a reputation for going above and beyond to satisfy her customers.
Having more than quadrupled her monthly income, the family’s future outlook has changed dramatically. Maria says she has benefited substantially from her Trust Group membership. Her group called Those Who Walk Together, and her loan officer Jen, have played a huge role in her success. According to Maria, even her husband looks at her with new eyes. She feels more like a partner in her marriage and she has been blessed by the new relationship based on respect and admiration. Her husband works exceptionally hard as a farmer but his business income ebbs and flows in a cycle according to planting and harvest seasons. Maria’s success has become the difference between a struggling family and a life of abundance with the promise of education for her children. Educating her children serves as the busy couple’s primary motivation in working toward their goals for their business and family. The couple recently invested the business profits to diversify their farm income to purchase goats and pigs.
Your donations help provide tools and training that empower women like Maria around the world, so that they may raise their families out of poverty. Thank you!
Every day, Charles is determined to live up to the name of his school—Top Care. He chose the name because of his passion for children having a chance to learn in the best environment possible. Over the years, Charles has made dozens of improvements with the help of Opportunity School Improvement Loans, including the addition of new classrooms and dormitories. As a result, student enrollment has grown from 24 students in 2005 to now more than 890. Charles plans to use his next loan to expand his schools boarding facilities again in order to provide more girls from rural communities with a safe place to live while they access quality education.
Charles is not the only one who has been impacted by the Education Finance program at Opportunity International. Since 2008, Opportunity has delivered more than 180,000 loans valuing $105 million to improve schools and get kids in the classroom. We have been able to provide 2.3 million children with access to a quality education in their own communities. In addition to this, Opportunity's EduFinance portfolios have created 290,000 new sustainable seats in affordable classrooms and supported 96,000 new jobs within the educational ecosystem.
However, education is more than just a seat in the classroom. Opportunity puts quality first, and with the launch of Education Quality, Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, quality is emphasized. The program offers the only approach that addresses the capital needs of parents and school owners while deepening the skills and competencies of local teachers and staff–all within a sustainable, low-cost framework that can be replicated worldwide.
Opportunity is currently delivering this Education Quality program in five countries, in which 630 schools receive support through our school cluster system. School clusters are groups of 4-12 schools that join together to collaborate on curriculum, share best practices, receive training, and build local standards of excellence to improve student outcomes.
By supporting Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, you are accelerating the achievement of education for every child around the world. Parents everywhere want to give their children a good education and a chance to escape generational poverty. Educators are stepping up to fill the gaps left by public school systems. By providing access to capital, training, and local support, you are providing the catalyst for affordable private schools to rapidly expand and improve in the most marginalized communities and continue doing so long after our first intervention.