Apr 20, 2018

Opportunity in Colombia

Claudia - a Trust Group Leader
Claudia - a Trust Group Leader

Opportunity International helps entrepreneurs in Colombia grow their businesses by providing them with small loans so they can invest in much-needed inventory or equipment, savings accounts so they can securely store their hard-earned income, and training in important skills, such as financial literacy and business management, to help them wisely invest in their business and sustainably increase their income. In impoverished communities, when one entrepreneur succeeds, it launches ripples of prosperity throughout the community – jobs are created, incomes rise, and more families break the cycle of poverty.

Your support for Colombian families is more important than ever. After 50 years of conflict, an estimated 7 million Colombians have been displaced, and thousands of ex-combatants are reintegrating into society as civilians. Securing good economic and educational opportunities for all is critical for peace, and to lift more of the most vulnerable families out of poverty. Opportunity is working to serve as many clients as possible in Colombia but due to the limited availability of capital, hundreds are still waiting for loans. Your support will be immediately put to work to accelerate lending to entrepreneurs, providing them with the chance to rebuild and improve their lives.

Opportunity’s services help clients transform all aspects of their lives – economic, personal, social, and spiritual. In Colombia, Opportunity works through our two local entities: our banking institution OICCF (Opportunity International Colombia S.A. Compañía de Financiamiento), and our partner NGO AGAPE, which delivers the training and support programs to help clients sustainably grow their businesses, strengthen their families, and improve their overall well-being. Opportunity supports entrepreneurs through Financial Services.

Opportunity provides clients with a range of financial services to help them build successful businesses, improve their incomes, send their children to school, and improve their homes:

  • Trust Group loans are an essential starting point for many clients who have very little or no collateral to qualify for a traditional loan. Within Trust Groups, members mutually guarantee each other’s loans in lieu of collateral and meet weekly for training, repayment, and support as they learn to wisely invest their loans, and earn a sustainable income.
  • Education loans provide parents with the capital they need to afford the up-front costs to send all their children to school. Opportunity also offers loans to help local educators grow and improve their local schools, such as building additional classrooms or gender-separated bathrooms.
  • Home Improvement loans help families invest in their homes and improve the living conditions of the poorest populations in Colombia. Opportunity trains its staff to support clients and ensure they do not become over-indebted, providing technical assistance throughout the construction process.
  • Savings accounts offer clients a safe place to keep and grow their hard-earned income, which is especially vital for women to gain financial security and economic empowerment. Savings accounts enable clients to manage future costs, including school fees or household improvements and build safety nets to pay for unexpected expenses, such as healthcare or medicine, without negatively affecting their everyday business or family needs.
Student at Nueva Esperanza School
Student at Nueva Esperanza School

Links:

Apr 4, 2018

Meet Sarah - A Cooking Fuel Seller in Uganda

Each day was filled with innumerable challenges for Sarah, who worked sunrise to sunset seven days a week to support her children. Sarah sells cooking fuel to her neighbors–some days sales are good and some days are not so good. On the not so good days, Sarah’s heart ached with worry over her children’s futures.

Then a friend invited her to join an Opportunity International Trust Group in her Kampala neighborhood. Having been turned away time and time again by banks, she was hesitant. All that changed when she discovered the training and support at her fingertips at each weekly meeting. She built new friendships and learned a great deal about expanding her business to increase her income.

Sarah used her loan to purchase larger bulks of cooking fuel, reducing her costs and dramatically increasing her profit margin. Before long, she attracted larger customers including a few local eateries. Sarah feels more confident and she has been empowered as a decision maker for both her business and her family. With a more focused vision and plan for her business, Sarah is also spending more time with her children.

With a goal to give her children a better life, Sarah is focused on saving for her children’s school fees. According to Sarah, “A college education is the only way out of the slums of Kampala. I have learned recently that despite my struggles, I have a great deal inside me that I can draw from to operate a profitable business and support my children.”

 “A college education is the only way out of the slums of Kampala. I have learned recently that despite my struggles, I have a great deal inside me that I can draw from to operate a profitable business and support my children.”

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Mar 27, 2018

Empowering Local Leaders to Drive Progress

We work alongside our clients and local leaders to address chronic, community-wide issues that limit quality of life. Projects include working with communities to build wells and aqueducts, creating a community loan program to repair roofs among the poorest of neighbors and for local churches, and partnering with medical clinics to provide training in issues such as reproductive health, domestic violence and stopping child sex trafficking and labor exploitation.

Moving into 2018, Opportunity Nicaragua is refining its approach to community projects to more comprehensively engage the 60 farming communities where we currently operate. Through this approach, we aim to empower farmers and their families with technical skills to increase their yields, as well as leadership skills to work with their neighbors in addressing their communities’ most pressing needs. Our goals include:

  1. Develop a scorecard to measure community progress: Opportunity Nicaragua is currently designing a scorecard to assess the strengths and skills present in the communities we serve. The scorecard will address areas such as the quality of infrastructure (roads, schools, bathrooms, etc), economic well-being and economic opportunities present, leadership capacity of community organizations or farmers, as well as spiritual welfare. Through the scorecard, we will help communities identify shortcomings, and design and plan projects that help the communities flourish and develop together.
  2. Hire local advocates to organize and manage community projects: Opportunity Nicaragua aims to expand its team to include local staff dedicated to supporting communities in designing and implementing projects. The staff will also help develop partnerships with organizations that can provide communities with much-needed expertise, such as health training or water specialists. 

In addition to farmers, we work with microfinance institutions in Nicaragua to help other entrepreneurs and artisans gain access to much-needed financial services to grow their businesses and earn better incomes. With support from Opportunity, entrepreneurs can access small loans to invest in much-needed inventory or equipment, savings accounts to securely store their hard-earned income, and training in important skills, such as financial literacy and business management, to wisely invest in their business and sustainably increase their income. In impoverished communities, when one entrepreneur succeeds, it launches ripples of prosperity throughout the community – jobs are created, incomes rise, and more families break the cycle of poverty. 

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