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.
Jul 8, 2015

Highlights from Africa

Isabelle is a soybean farmer from Mozambique
Isabelle is a soybean farmer from Mozambique

Opportunity is impacting the lives of 5.2 million clients throughout Africa, 354,557 of which are active loan clients. Our Agriculture Finance program helps empower farmers by providing them with loans and training in modern farming practices. Innovative cell phone and agent banking tools are increasing our rural outreach by bringing the bank directly to the farmer’s field, and we are reaching even more smallholder farmers since launching the initiative in Kenya and Tanzania. Rural families now have accessible and secure banking options for the first time, and cell phone banking gives them 24-7 secure and efficient access to financial services without costly trips to the bank.

In 2014, Opportunity Uganda customized school fee loans for farmer families who earn seasonal income and struggle to keep their children in school between harvests. 41 schools also received school improvement loans to improve sanitation and build new classrooms at their facilities, positively impacting 35,250 students. Opportunity Kenya reached more rural families by launching a new branch in Kisumu, which has rapidly become one of the bank’s most successful branches, providing rice and fish farmers with much-needed financial services. Other branches in Kenya also helped 525 families keep their children in school with school fee loans.

Opportunity Malawi continues to provide a safe way to save for nearly 670,000 families, offering them a safety net of savings through the country’s economic turbulence. Opportunity Tanzania focuses on reaching out to the underbanked in rural regions by providing 120 irrigated rice farmers with loans for inputs and labor and 70 sunflower farmers with loans for their operations. Opportunity Ghana continues to increase awareness about their financial services in rural areas, and their newest bank branch in Tamale opened its doors to 66 loan clients and 177 savers, with the hope of helping many more clients to come.

Opportunity Mozambique has also worked to raise awareness in 25 communities by conducting financial literacy roadshows in rural towns. They expanded their reach to include sesame farmers who represent 26% of the bank’s Agricultural Finance portfolio. Farmers like Isabelle have already benefited from the financial services that Opportunity Mozambique offers. As a mother of six children, she rises at dawn each day to work her farm and to provide for her family. "I used my loan to hire laborers and purchase high quality fertilizer. I learned modern farming practices and exceeded my husband's production, selling 84 bags of soya against 35 bags on the same size plot. My husband has been looking at me differently - with respect and pride," she said. By providing farmers like Isabelle with training and resources to improve their harvests, and by giving families the opportunity to save and invest in their futures, Opportunity is creating holistic change in rural communities throughout Africa. 

Jul 7, 2015

Education Finance Progress Report

Nathan visits the Real Quality Junior School.
Nathan visits the Real Quality Junior School.

During 2014, Opportunity International’s Education Finance initiative achieved growth across key objectives including program outreach, staff and school proprietor training and expansion to new countries. Opportunity launched school proprietor training, youth financial literacy training and child savings accounts in four additional countries. As of February 2015, 7,764 children have attended financial literacy training at 156 schools, educating them on the importance of saving for and investing in their futures.

A growing school can permanently alter the socioeconomic reality of a community, creating an “upward spiral” of economic opportunities that provide families with the means to keep kids in school, forever changing the survival prospects of those families. Lydia and Antoli, the founding couple of Real Quality Junior School in Kampala, Uganda are delighted that their school can improve the future outlook for teachers, students and the entire community.  

Their school started out small, but thanks to their hard work and the support of Opportunity, the school has grown from 50 to 1,200 students. The school’s impact ripples beyond the students with more than 90 staff jobs and countless more jobs created within the surrounding community. Teachers at Real Quality Junior School are empowered with the right tools to help students succeed and they are inspired to make a lasting difference. Nathan, Opportunity International’s head of education finance, recently met with a few of our schools in Kampala, Uganda, including Real Quality Junior School. Opportunity first began working with this particular school when the children were just toddlers – today, the school boasts a clean water system, toilets, teacher housing, teacher training, sustainable cash flow and a 100% national exam passing rate. And this is just one of more than 1,000 schools that Opportunity is supporting globally. 

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Apr 10, 2015

Education Finance Initiative Update

More than 67 million children worldwide are not in school. Many of these children belong to families who are struggling to escape poverty but do not have adequate resources to provide a better future for their children. Research shows that education is not only a proven path out of poverty but also improves life expectancy, boosts income and reduces child marriages. Education is a powerful tool that enables both children and adults to rise out of poverty. With this knowledge, Opportunity is committed to equipping families and education entrepreneurs with valuable financial services and training so that every child has the opportunity to learn in a classroom.

Opportunity’s multifaceted Education Finance Initiative supports the family with School Fee loans, insurance and Tertiary loans. School Fee loans and insurance through the recently launched EduSave program help keep children in school in the event of a parent’s or caregiver’s death or disablement. Additionally, Tertiary loans provide financial support for individuals who go on to receive higher education. To date, Opportunity has issued 6,200 School Fee loans that have served 19,200 students in Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Dominican Republic.

The Education Finance Initiative also provides services to education entrepreneurs to ensure that the children who are able to attend school have an adequate school to attend. Opportunity has conducted eight targeted training sessions for 540 teachers and school proprietors in Ghana since Education Finance’s inception. In addition to Ghana, School Improvement loans are now offered in Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Dominican Republic and Kenya. In those countries, a total of 880 School Improvement loans have impacted 219,500 students who are now benefit from improved educational facilities that better equip them to break free from the cycle of poverty.

School proprietor and client, Franklyn, used Opportunity’s School Improvement Loans to recover from tragedy. A powerful storm destroyed the roof and two classrooms of the Tower of David Academy. The local bank considered the school too small and would not offer Franklyn a loan, but a student’s mother told her about Opportunity International. With her first Opportunity loan, Franklyn repaired the devastated roof and classrooms and purchased desks and computers. To date she has used four Opportunity loans to improve and expand her school which now serves 170 students in nine classrooms. Franklyn’s determination, paired with access to School Improvement loans, has supported transformational, education opportunities that provide hope for the future.

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