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Jul 16, 2019

Building Sustainable Livelihoods in Colombia

Vitalia Mosquera Florez - Entrepreneur in Colombia
Vitalia Mosquera Florez - Entrepreneur in Colombia

In Colombia, today’s generation of children is the first generation in more than 50 years with the chance to grow up in a country at peace. Following the landmark peace accord struck between the Colombian government and rebel groups in 2016, communities previously burdened with civil strife and violence are working to build more stable futures for their children. All they need is an opportunity. By providing access to financial services and training, Opportunity is empowering local entrepreneurs to grow businesses and schools, create jobs, and strengthen their communities for the next generation.

  • More entrepreneurs are growing sustainable businesses. More than 7,000 clients are using loans to expand their microbusinesses, and nearly 50,000 families are saving.
  • More than 100 clients are trained every month in financial literacy. The transformation team recently updated our seven-module training series based on clients’ expressed needs from data collected through client surveys.
  • More than 200 schools are investing Opportunity School Improvement loans to enhance education quality for about 55,000 children through better infrastructure, like new classrooms and gender-separated bathrooms.

One of the incredible entrepreneurs setting the path for a future free from poverty is Vitalia (pictured above). She learned to prepare empanadas from her mother when she was a young girl. As an adult, she turned this skill into a business, selling fried treats to help support her family. She longed to grow the business and expand her restaurant, but she didn’t have the resources. After learning about Opportunity, Vitalia was able to secure a loan and purchase ingredients and supplies in bulk, increasing the number of empanadas she was able to prepare and sell each day. Now her shop is one of the most popular spots on the street! When she speaks about why she works so hard, she says, “I’m working for my son. So that he can have a great future.”

With access to loans, savings, and training, entrepreneurs like Vitalia will gain the resources they need to start and grow small businesses and expand economic opportunities in communities where few job opportunities exist. Your support helps invest in the potential of mothers, fathers, and other hardworking entrepreneurs to drive the changes they want to see in their lives, and throughout their communities. Thank you for partnering with Colombian families!

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Jul 16, 2019

Creating Opportunities in Nicaragua

Emprendedora school students
Emprendedora school students

Filled with a vibrant community, burgeoning economic opportunity, and breathtaking landscapes, Nicaragua is the United States' neighbor to the south that is slowly but steadily rising to increased economic prominence on an international scale.

Ten years ago, Opportunity International saw Nicaragua's potential and decided to launch its flagship project in the country for Community-led Economic Development. Through this program, you have helped Opportunity Nicaragua drive sustainable solutions that engage communities to build pathways out of poverty. Yucca farmers, young schoolchildren, and entire communities have experienced the support and reaped the benefits of participating in this initiative, earning greater income and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and pave a way towards a future filled with sustainable opportunity.

Nicaragua, and the world, have made significant strides to reduce extreme poverty, providing many of Opportunity's clients with renewed hope and optimism. However, our work is not finished. There is still more to be done. Currently, 1 in 4 people in Nicaragua live on less than $1.90 a day. In order to meet these needs and continue providing pathways for hope, we need your support. Your continued investment in Opportunity's work in Nicaragua provides invaluable resources to families still struggling to break the cycle of poverty. Together, we can provide a beacon of light for those who have not yet been touched by the hope that change can and will come to their communities.

Nicaragua Country Profile

  • One of the Poorest Central American Countries - Nicaragua's GDP for 2017 was $13.81 billion and it ranks 165th in the world in terms of GDP per capita.
  • 1 in 3 People Live in Poverty - Poverty continues to run rampant, with 29.6% of its population below the poverty line as of 2015.
  • Most Families Rely on Agriculture for their Livelihoods - In Nicaragua, 31% of the labor force is involved in agriculture. The most commonly grown crops in Nicaragua besides yucca are coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, and maize.
  • Lack of Quality Education Perpetuates Poverty - Youth living in rural areas are least likely to complete their education, and low levels of student learning continue to hamper opportunities for youth.

What We Do

Opportunity Nicaragua believes that community-led economic development works best when it is both collaborative and asset-based. By helping communities realize and leverage the resources and gifts they already possess, Opportunity is equipping low-income families to drive the changes they wish to see in their communities.

In Nicaragua, tourism and agriculture emerged as two of the most promising industries through which low­ income communities can utilize their existing assets to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. Opportunity Nicaragua implements three core programs focused on engaging families, youth, and communities within these industries to stimulate economic growth and provide opportunities for building sustainable livelihoods:

  1. Economic Development Through Agriculture. Opportunity Nicaragua equips rural yucca farmers to improve their yields and incomes.
  2. Vocational Education for Youth. Opportunity Nicaragua provides relevant education to rural youth to help them develop in-demand skills for their future.
  3. Community Empowerment and Engagement. Opportunity Nicaragua supports community leaders in driving effective solutions to community-wide challenges that limit quality of life.

Together, these programs provide Opportunity with a strong focus to work collaboratively with communities to build sustainable pathways out of poverty.

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Jul 15, 2019

EduFinance 2019 Summer Update

Robinah and her three youngest daughters
Robinah and her three youngest daughters

For Robinah, growing up in Ggaba—an extremely poor region in Uganda—life was always uncertain. And after she became a mother, she opened a small retail shop so she could provide for her family and give her children a better future. When she was abandoned by her husband and left to raise her six children alone, she knew she couldn't afford to keep them all in school. Despite all her efforts, she worried every night her daughters would run away or marry too young, and never escape a life of poverty.

That's when Robinah turned to Opportunity. With the business loan and training Opportunity provided, she began selling new food items and her business started to attract more customers. After her business picked up, she decided to use Opportunity School Fee Loans to cover the costs of education for her three youngest girls (all pictured above), who were still schoolaged. All three have restarted their education and are flourishing.

Esther, her 20-year-old daughter, says, “My mother has worked day and night to keep us in school, and with Opportunity School Fee Loans she has helped bring me to where I am today. If it weren't for that, I would be in a village doing manual labor. Instead, I can stay in Kampala and go to nursing school and have a better future.”

Parents all around the world, regardless of income level or nationality, know that a good education is their child’s greatest tool for success in life, yet millions of families live in regions where there are no nearby schools, or only poor quality schools, resulting in a global education gap that perpetuates poverty and inequality, generation after generation. The goal of Opportunity International’s EduFinance initiative is to help accelerate an end to the global education crisis. Opportunity offers the only systemic approach that helps more kids go to school and stay in school while improving the quality of education schools provide. Thank you for your support, and for joining us on this mission.  

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