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 7, 2014

Program Update: Educating Children

Maryhill Junior School
Maryhill Junior School

Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school—and 70 percent are girls. If a girl cannot complete secondary school, she is at a higher risk of illiteracy, HIV and early marriage, offering little chance of reaching her potential.

One out of every two people on this planet struggles to feed and educate their children. Your support helps Opportunity bring new educational opportunities to children in impoverished neighborhoods around the world. With financial support and business training, school proprietors can build schools and hire teachers, as well as add classrooms, meal services and lavatories. School Propietors like Thomas Balya Bugembe. 

Thomas, a former seminarian, dreamed of opening a school for the underserved students of Sonde, Uganda. In 2006, he opened Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School with just 37 students in two rooms on land.

Enrollment grew steadily, and so did Thomas’ determination to improve the quality of education for his students -- whose parents were mostly subsistencefarmers.

With a series of incremental loans,Opportunity Uganda helped Thomas purchase his own land and expand the school to include a main hall and a kindergarten wing. He now has 14 qualified teachers at Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School to help him serve nearly 400 Ugandan students.

Thomas says his partnership with Opportunity International will allow him to continue expanding the range of educational opportunities at Maryhill and offer a brighter future for students.

Thomas plans to construct a school library, complete with a computer lab and technological training for students. He has a vision of three separate buildings: one each for kindergarten students, day students and boarding students.

Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, the least developed country in Central America, approximately 32 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Nearly half of the country’s most impoverished people live in rural areas where they struggle to survive in agriculture-based occupations. For nearly two decades, Opportunity International has worked with microentrepreneurs in Nicaragua to build sustainable, successful businesses that will break them out of the cycle of poverty.

Opportunity's programs in Nicaragua seek to develop a community from within, building upon its local assets and investing in strategies that grow the local economy through the development of small and medium enterprises. With you support, the program provides both individual and community-level investments to address sustainable solutions for entrepreneurs, their families and their communities.

  • Agriculture: Nicaragua’s economy is driven primarily by agriculture. Opportunity Nicaragua’s agriculture initiatives provide financingtraining and technology that enable farmers to engage in sustainable practices. Our agronomists teach farmers how to create farms that recycle local resources and produce healthier crops.
  • Agricultural processing plant: We assist in adding economic value to farm products through our agricultural processing plant, reducing the risk of poor farmers’ dependence on just one crop. By diversifying the products processed through the plant, farmers increase their incomes and access new market opportunities. With additional earnings and a greater peace of mind, they can feed and clothe their families, send their children to school, invest in their businesses and find hope for a better future.
  • Artisan Support: Skilled Nicaraguan artisans have developed generational expertise for hand-crafted products, but often lack knowledge on how to develop a business plan or improve products for export. In response to these needs, Opportunity International links artisans with expertise in design, business, financing, training and identifying new markets.
  • Community Infrastructure Projects: The Nicaragua Community Economic Development Program works with communities to enhance their ability to identify issues, create action plans, mobilize members of the community and implement successful changes that improve a community’s trajectory. These community-led initiatives, including road repair, wells, libraries, etc., are critical to instilling local ownership and long-term sustainability.
  • Youth: In 2012, we expanded from one Young Life Club to three serving vulnerable teens in Granada. Emprenadora Technical High School:Established in 2012, the school empowers 7th grade students through hands-on learning in the area’s two most promising industries — tourism and agriculture. Opportunity Nicaragua teaches youth skills that are specific to their local economy, providing them tools to successfully return to their family farm or business, get a good job in the community or go to university.
Jan 7, 2014

Rural Outreach Update in Africa

In the developing world, people living in rural and remote areas are not only the most impoverished but also the least likely to have access to financial services, especially when the nearest financial institution may be hours—or even days—away. In response to this challenge, Opportunity International brings financial services to where our clients live and work, no matter the distance.

Opportunity International is addressing the financial needs of isolated rural communities through innovative technologies and an expanding network of banks. Our client-facing technologies provide convenient financial access, allowing impoverished people to quickly access their funds so they can focus on generating income and achieving their financial goals. These groundbreaking client services equip Opportunity International banks to reach more people outside of urban centers—and at a lower cost through increasingly cashless and paperless processes.

Here is a program and product update on our rural expansion work in Africa. 

  • Low-Cost Branches: Opportunity deploys hub branches in trade centers and surround them with small, low-cost outlets as spokes that reach surrounding rural communities. New branches are in development worldwide. Whether full service, mobile or satellite kiosk, these banks bring hope through economic opportunity to families who have no other access to financial services.
  • Mobile Banking:  Vans Armored banking vehicles travel bring banking services to rural clients.
  • Agent Banking:  Opportunity installs point-of-sale devices in bank branches, mobile vans and local businesses to allow clients to conveniently bank in a variety of easy-to-reach locations. This extends the reach of the bank without the cost of establishing a full satellite branch.
  • ATMs: These machines enable clients to bank at any time.
  • Cell Phone Banking: Mobile phones are used as a channel for financial information and services, providing clients with banking access anywhere with cellular reception.

Before Opportunity International’s mobile bank came to his town in Mozambique, Lucas Chingore was among the millions of unbanked with little hope of establishing a business. It was a half-day trek to the closest bank and the only loans he could obtain were from unreliable sources that charged high interest. For rural entrepreneurs like Lucas, Opportunity International’s mobile banks make weekly stops within walking distance of their homes and businesses, saving clients valuable time and money.

 

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