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Dec 28, 2018

Opportunity Uganda 2018 Highlights

From a small community-based endeavor, Opportunity Uganda has become one of the Largest microfinance institutions in the country.

Big harvests have created countless opportunities for Uganda farmers

By supporting Opportunity in Uganda, you provided farmers with tailored savings and loan products, linkages to high-quality farm inputs, training in business and farming best practices, and market access­ all supporting farmers who can earn a more reliable income. In Uganda, we achieved a 118% increase year-over-year in the number of AgFinance loans delivered to smallholder farmers.

Digital financial solutions

High-touch, high-tech, high-impact services make banking simple and accessible for Ugandan clients. Today, more than four million Opportunity clients globally are registered to access their accounts digitally. In Uganda, marginalized entrepreneurs register to conduct transactions using their basic cell phones or ATMs and engage in non-financial activities like taking surveys and receiving training via voice messages and texts. Digital services in Uganda have been a marked benefit to farmers and families living in the rural and remote communities. Basic cell phones and ATMs have become key business tools for Ugandan entrepreneurs where we developed a new digital strategy that focuses on client incentives and greater interaction, bolstering the bank's capacity and improving customer service. Since then, OBUL experienced a significant increase of more than 33%in digital transactions, resulting in an average of 6,139 digital transactions per month.

Measurable education outcomes for Ugandan children

Internal and external research and evaluations prove EduFinance leads to better outcomes for students and schools. We are committed to measuring our impact, making continuous improvements, and striving to achieve the highest levels of social impact and sustainability. Recent studies in Uganda and Rwanda demonstrate that EduFinance is helping schools reach more vulnerable children, offer higher-quality education, and become sustainable. The studies confirmed the impact of our School Improvement Loans. Surveys and interviews among local staff, 87 school proprietors, and 200 parents showed great consistency between our EduFinance objectives and the educational needs and aspirations of families and communities. Key findings include:

  • School proprietors who invest in their schools and communities encourage localized growth.
  • Investing in marginalized families breaks the cycle of generational poverty as educated children pursue more secure jobs.
  • 185 new jobs were created by the 75 financed schools that were studied in Uganda.
  • Private schools boost local businesses, contributing to the community's economic development.

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Dec 26, 2018

Growing Stronger Through Adversity

Update on the national crisis

  • In mid-April, President Daniel Ortega upset the nation with unexpected tax and social security reforms. Nicaraguans took to the streets in protest.
  • In early May, protests turned into violent encounters between protesters and military officials.
  • By June, the economy stalled. Businesses and banks closed. Many of Opportunity's services were temporarily restricted.
  • After more than 300 deaths, the conflict continues. Little headway has been made in peace talks mediated by the Catholic Church and the situation remains uncertain.

Despite these setbacks, Opportunity Nicaragua continues to operate its school, yucca processing plant, and training services for farmers and small businesses. Thanks to your support, our well-developed and resilient programs continue to empower families and communities, even in a time of instability.

Students are back in the classroom

After closing for several months due to safety concerns, the Emprendedora Technical School is now open again. Throughout the conflict, 94% of the student body has remained enrolled in school, largely due to the creative problem-solving and hard work of Emprendedora teachers and staff. Working closely with parents even when the school grounds were closed, staff moved lessons online and created internet hotspots so children could continue to learn from the safety of their homes. Teachers also regularly followed up by visiting families to check on student progress and household safety. Now that students are back in class, produce and egg sales from the school's agribusinesses are helping the school to reach 41% sustainability, despite lack of sales to Pacaya Lodge & Spa, which remains closed. Students continue to learn and remain on track to graduate as they attend Emprendedora with consistency once again.

A robust planting season for yucca farmers

This summer, 310 farmers still planted 727 manzanas (equivalent to more than 1,200 acres) of yucca throughout the Pacific South and Nueva Guinea. Despite the increased difficulty in accessing seeds and fertilizer and financing for their yucca, our clients committed and followed through, even utilizing new farming techniques and planting multiple seed varieties. Between these techniques and adequate rainfall, the yucca crop looks promising for a good harvest this year.

Processing plant is certified and ready to go

Opportunity Nicaragua staff expertly braved roadblocks and barriers to ensure the processing plant could undergo food-grade recertification. In Nicaragua, the Safe Quality Foods certification requirements were updated, prompting the plant to undergo certification again. The staff worked tirelessly to ensure the plant was prepared for the new requirements and that auditors could travel safely to the plan amid roadblocks and ongoing conflict. The plant scored 97% - an extremely high score that proves its quality to our buyers and will allow the yucca products to be sold in more markets for a higher value. We rejoice in this good news and in the hard work of our processing plant staff that made this a reality. The plant already has the inventory to fill orders for clients in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Thank you for your continued support of Opportunity's programs and clients in Nicaragua as they continue to navigate their uncertain circumstances. Your continued support is bringing positive transformation, hope, and assurance.

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Oct 18, 2018

Creating Economic Opportunities in Colombia

Opportunity International has expanded economic opportunities for disadvantaged female entrepreneurs living in rural, violence-affected communities in Colombia. Through your support, we expanded financial inclusion for women, helped more children from impoverished families go to school, and expanded client trainings and financial services to increase their incomes and create more jobs. We achieved this through:

  1. Expanding outreach to women entrepreneurs living in violence-affected areas. While still engaging impoverished working families in Colombia, we have reached further down the economic ladder to engage women living in impoverished, violence-affected communities, introducing them to the most basic concepts of financial literacy and income-generating businesses.
  2. Empowering women entrepreneurs as job creators in marginalized communities. You have provided moms with the tools and skills they need to reach their potential to support their families and become leaders and job creators within their communities.
  3. Expanding access to education for girls. Together, we built the capacity of entrepreneurs who have launched or expanded quality schools that can change the future for children, especially girls, along with their families and entire communities.

Expanding access to economic and educational opportunities has proven vitally important for low-income Colombian women entrepreneurs and their children. The positive impact of this project has rippled beyond entrepreneurs and school proprietors to build stronger communities across the country. Through your generosity, Opportunity has provided critical support, training, and economic opportunities to hardworking Colombian entrepreneurs and school proprietors.

 During the first six months of 2018:

  • We opened two new branches in rural, violence-affected Colombian communities and began serving women with the financial resources and support they need to succeed.
  • Opportunity Colombia number of entrepreneurs with loans grew by 19% from 6,180 to 7,348. The increased outreach is attributed in part to the two new branches.
  • We trained 658 entrepreneur clients. Including family members, 3,290 people have been positively impacted as clients grow thriving businesses that increase household income and create jobs for neighbors.
  • We updated our 7-module training series for both savings groups and Trust Groups based on their expressed needs from data collected through our Social Performance Management tool and client surveys.
  • 416 Colombian schools are investing Opportunity School Improvement loans, enhancing education quality for about 104,000 children through improved infrastructure like better classrooms and gender-separated bathrooms.
  • Colombian parents are using 428 Opportunity School Fee loans to cover the education costs of about 1,300 kids.
  • Ten youth were accessing College/Vocational loans to pay for continuing education.
  • Opportunity Colombia dramatically increased their outreach by developing and launching an education product that funds community moms who start preschools in their homes. The pre-schools are growing and creating jobs for other moms in the neighborhood.

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