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Apr 11, 2019

Opportunity in Colombia: Goals for 2019


In Colombia, Opportunity’s local entity, AGAPE, helps families access loans and savings from our local financial institution partner and has developed transformative training materials and programs to help families wisely and sustainably grow their businesses, gain financial security, improve their living conditions, and lift their families out of poverty. Key priorities over the next year include:

Empower 1,400 entrepreneurs to start or grow small businesses
Opportunity Colombia works with Savings and Loans Groups to build the capacity of entrepreneurs to launch or grow small businesses successfully. Savings and Loans Groups offer a support network for entrepreneurs, who pool their savings together to form an informal loan fund for group members.  Often, Savings and Loans Groups are made up of entrepreneurs at the very bottom of the economic ladder who may not have an existing business and would benefit from a smaller, informal loan to get their businesses started. Opportunity Colombia works within these groups to help entrepreneurs access the capital they need while providing hands-on training in important topics including financial literacy, business management and improving family dynamics.

Update and develop new financial training modules to better support underserved groups
To ensure clients receive effective, transformative training, AGAPE develops training materials and programs to address our clients’ specific needs. AGAPE’s workshops, such as Savings Awareness Training for Clients and Leadership Training for Group Leaders, and other educational materials have been rated by clients very positively and useful in improving skills. Opportunity plans to enhance and develop new financial training tools to continue providing the best possible education to our clients.

Equip mothers in violence-affected communities to lift their families out of poverty
Opportunity expanded our outreach to two new areas in ColombiaCaucasia and Carmen de Bolívarboth of which are rural areas that have been affected by violence. Opportunity aims to deepen trainings and establish Savings and Loans groups for entrepreneurs in these areas. At this critical point in Colombia’s history, investment in rural areas like Caucasia and Carmen de Bolívar will significantly help shift rural economies into the formal sector, opening up possibilities for women and youth to use their skills productively, and launch and operate businesses that expand job opportunities for others in their communities.

Increase access to quality schools for 6,000 students
In Colombia, education entrepreneurs are building low-cost, local private schools to help serve the need for better education in their communities. These schools offer parents an alternative choice to low-quality public schools and, because they are operated by socially-focused entrepreneurs, the schools can quickly grow and respond to the needs of parents in their communities. Opportunity works with school leaders to help them invest School Improvement Loans in areas such as building new classrooms, purchasing buses, adding water and sanitation facilities, or hiring more staff and teachers. School leaders can also participate in Opportunity’s Education Quality program by joining a School Cluster, which is a group of schools that regularly meet to receive training and share best practices. Through clusters, school leaders gain important insights to develop better curriculum, train high-quality teachers, and effectively implement improvements in the quality of their school over time.  Through this approach, school leaders can build, grow, and improve their own high-quality schools, create jobs in the community for staff and teachers, and help students to learn the skills they need to build more productive futures for themselves and their families.


This year is critical for investing in the potential of entrepreneurs in Colombia. With access to loans, savings, and training, entrepreneurs 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 will help 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.


Apr 4, 2019

Nicaragua Spring Update

Because of your ongoing support, our work in Nicaragua continues to bring hope to those who need it most. 2018 was a tumultuous year for all Nicaraguans who lived in major political and economic upheaval. Even now, the country normalcy is slow. Operating in troubled regions is not new to Opportunity, and trials like this make us feel even more grateful for your support. Thank you for being a good neighbor to the families we serve in Nicaragua. With you by our side, we can continue to help youth, farmers, entrepreneurs, and communities to make lasting changes that increase their ability to thrive.

As of February 2019, there has been a slight reduction in anti-government protests, but the economy remains weak from the recession that began in October of last year. Amidst continuing political and economic woes negatively impacting many aspects of daily life, families and staff are working with strength and resilience. Opportunity Nicaragua is running the school, operating the yucca processing plant, delivering training and support to farmers, and supporting community transformation. A few highlights from David Kone, Program Head, include:

  • 100% of Emprendedora students have graduated. Staff transferred classes online during the most dangerous weeks of the crisis. When the school reopened, students returned to their classrooms without losing credit for the school year.
  • 317 farmers planted yucca in the Pacific South and Nueva Guinea, exceeding expectations during the national crisis. We expect to purchase about 75% of our total raw material from Opportunity farmers. Yucca quality, amount farmers retain for consumption, crop pricing, and strength of the local market are all factors that play a role in determining how much of their crops we can process. Ultimately, we want to buy 100% of the yucca processed from our farmers.
  • The processing plant is ready to export crops to the U.S. and Central America. We established an export plan for Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala. We also established a distribution channel in Miami for U.S. markets. We conducted food safety tests on 100% of our finished food grade products and received initial orders from two companies, affirming the quality of our plant.

On behalf of our staff, students, families, and communities for your continued support!


Apr 1, 2019

Coffee Farmers in Uganda

An Opportunity survey of Ugandan coffee farmers revealed that without support, 65% of the farmers are likely to fall below the $1.25/day poverty line and 90% are likely to fall below the$2.50/day poverty line. Coffee, however, is one of the top-earning export crops in Uganda and holds tremendous potential to become a powerful economic engine for rural farming communities. With access to loans, savings accounts, technical training, and connections to good crop purchasers, coffee farmers are increasing their yields, accessing profitable markets and boosting their incomes, improving their families’ livelihoods and financial security.

Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance team is working to expand outreach to key coffee-producing regions throughout Uganda, including Mityana, Mubende, and Masaka in the western regions, and has partnered with more than a dozen coffee companies in the country to help farmers connect to higher-value markets and earn a good profit for their crops. Opportunity is currently working to digitize payments between coffee farmers and coffee companies to reduce the need for cash – which can be difficult to manage, and risky to carry in lump sums. Digital payments will also help farmers manage their accounts conveniently without the need to travel to a bank branch.

Opportunity’s 2018-2019 goals include:

  • Explore opportunities for expansion in new regions – Opportunity recently opened a new branch, Oyam, in the northern region of Uganda and is working to expand lending to coffee farmers in the surrounding regions.
  • Strengthen market linkages for coffee farmers – Opportunity’s growing network of value chain partners will connect more coffee farmers to the rapidly growing industry, helping them grow and sell more coffee and improve their incomes.
  • Expand agricultural best practices trainings for farmers – Improved trainings will help farmers with challenges such as protecting their crops from recent recurrences of pests and diseases.
  • Connect farmers digitally to financial services – Opportunity is working to rapidly expand digital banking services for farmers, improving access for clients in rural areas.

For a small farmer in rural Uganda, a good harvest opens up countless possibilities. A good harvest means a farmer can grow her savings account, and send her children to school well-fed. It means she can make improvements to her home, buy medicine when she or her children are sick, and hire her neighbors to help on her growing farm, expanding opportunities for others in her community to earn a good income and work their way out of poverty.


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