Jul 26, 2017

EduFinance GlobalGiving

Opportunity's EduFinance program bridges the gaps in funding for low-income and school proprietors in developing countriesTo this day, this program has facilitated school improvement loans for 489 schools while 264 schools have participated in our Education Quality program. 20, 087 of the kids that Opportunity has reached so far reside in Kenya. 

Kawangware is a slum in Nairobi, Kenya where Regina has been a resident since 1992. Having taught in government schools for many years, she saw the need for education in the community around her. With only three students and a small rental space in the slums, Regina founded the Revelation Ushindi School in 2002. 

Regina registered as soon we opened our office in Kenya, thus making her one of Opportunity's very first clients. Her first loan was used to rent a small room for the initial group of students but she has expanded greatly since then. She has, over the course of 9 years, paid teachers' salaries, bought textbooks and food for her pupils and maintained rental payments on what is now a large property. All this has been achieved by paying back and taking out new loans with Opportunity.  

Her school is a good quality facility that has not only created opportunities for children in the area but also working. Regina's school currently serves 80 pupils at full capacity which has led to the hiring of five people in her community, 4 teachers and a cook. The school has gained approval in the community for being affordable and clean. Although an education is a basic necessity, it is a scarce one, which is why Regina is happy to provide it to her community and considers this her biggest achievement. 

Despite continually facing the challenges that come with serving students in extreme poverty, Regina remains positive through it all. She continues to serve her pupils even when their parents are unable to pay school fees because she values the potential she sees in the children more than monetary value and has a deep love for her community. 

Regina's hope in the future is to expand her school outside of the slum. The current location comes with many distractions while moving to a new location would allow for a large fenced space and the enrollment of new students. 

 

Jul 10, 2017

Meet Proscovia - A Pineapple Farmer from Uganda

Proscovia on her farm in Masaka, Uganda
Proscovia on her farm in Masaka, Uganda

When Proscovia approached Opportunity for support for her farm in Uganda, she wanted to learn how to better manage her business so she could better provide for her family. She grew coffee on her land to help support her six children, but it was a constant struggle for Proscovia and her husband, Paul, as they tried to scrape together enough income to pay school fees, put food on their family’s table and invest in their businesses.

When Proscovia joined Opportunity International, she received training and financial services to optimize her business and learned how diversifying her crops could streamline her income. She began planting pineapple in addition to coffee, and thanks to a repayment schedule developed specifically for farmers, Proscovia was able to repay her loan after the harvest, once she had sold her crops. Now, she is selling her coffee and pineapple crops to businesses and suppliers all the way in Kenya, giving her the income she needs to keep her children in school and to start a retail shop in her local market for additional income.

But the real change came when her success sparked a newfound confidence in Proscovia, driving her to run for—and win—an elected position in her community council. She has become a role model for her children, who are witnessing their mom accomplishing her goals and starting to pursue their own dreams, too.

When Proscovia spoke of her family, she said, “My biggest dream is to see my children graduate. I want a better life for them. And I’m grateful to Opportunity International for helping me.”

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May 4, 2017

Meet Jacqueline - A Student from Nicaragua

Jacqueline with her mother and father in Granada
Jacqueline with her mother and father in Granada

With a dirt floor underfoot and a thick grove of banana trees surrounding their house, Guillermo sat on his small porch and spoke lovingly about his daughter Jacqueline’s graduation day. “For me it was something like I’ve never experienced,” he said, almost in a daze of disbelief. He said it was unforgettable, a coming-together of all types of people in one beautiful celebration. Neither he nor his wife finished high school, so there’s no doubt that day meant as much to him as it did to their daughter. 

Jacqueline was in the first class of students at the Emprendedora Technical School which was founded by Opportunity in 2012 in Granada, Nicaragua, a country where more than 48 percent of children never reach the sixth grade. In 2016, the Emprendedora High School reached full capacity with 300 students in grades 7–11. 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.

After hunkering down at Emprendedora for five years, Jacqueline graduated with honors and a 96% average, becoming the first in her family’s history to complete high school as part of Emprendedora's first ever graduating class. Given that she sleeps in one room with her two siblings and two parents, and there is only one fluorescent light illuminating their entire two-room home, there are a number of challenges that could have prevented her from succeeding. But she has grit, and she knew her chance to seize a great education was through Emprendedora.

Jacqueline credits her family, but also her classmates and the school, for helping her persevere when it seemed like they wouldn’t be able to make their tuition payments. She said “the quality of the education is different. At Emprendedora, they care more about what we learn and what we do than they do in the local public schools.” Guillermo was proud to see the values they try to instill in her at home are reflected at school: “The values of Opportunity help in shaping the students.”

Guillermo wants Jacqueline to focus solely on her education next year in university. And while Jacqueline spends her days studying, Guillermo will do what he does best—figure out how to give his daughter everything she needs to succeed. Already he has sold pigs and chickens when he could not produce a full month’s tuition. Already he has spent an excruciating time away from his family in Costa Rica to work a construction job that could support his family back home. But as he says, “There’s no price for education.”

Over the years he has worked slowly and steadily to give his daughter what she needs, perfecting the “long game” of providing. In fact, when she was just a 13-year-old walking an hour to/from Emprendedora every day, Guillermo focused on acquiring a handlebar; then a gear; then a tire—until one day he could assemble her very own bike, so that Jacqueline could ride to school safely and swiftly each day.

Now armed with two degrees, Jacqueline is excited to attend a university and wants to work to help pay her tuition as she studies to become an accountant. In fact, she’s already manifesting the meaning of emprendedora—entrepreneur—by selling some of her artwork to other students and locals in town. Jacqueline will make it to and through college, because not only is she incredible and talented and driven, but she has a secret weapon on her side—a loving family willing to sacrifice until they can give her what she deserves.

“I want to thank the friends and donors of Opportunity,” she says. “Because of their support, I’ve gotten where I am.”

Jacqueline with her father on graduation day.
Jacqueline with her father on graduation day.

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