Aidah, a proud wife and mother of six children, operates a farm in Mityana, Uganda. Her kids are grown and ready to take on the world because their mother and father have equipped them well. One child works as a journalist, one a teacher and the other siblings are farmers and entrepreneurs. Each in their own way has risen above the severe poverty that has marked the family for generations. There is much to be grateful for – however, for Aidah and her family, the future has not always held so much promise. Not long ago she and her husband rose each morning faced with feelings of fear and shame. The couple lacked access to the resources they needed to put nutritious food on the family table, pay for school fees, or purchase medicine when a child fell ill.
Aidah was growing several crops when she took her first loan of $167. The access to credit and training smoothed out her family’s cyclical farming income and provided extra capital to invest in future harvests. She reared chickens and silkworms in addition to growing coffee and bananas to sell at market. The operations were all risky—dependent on good weather and uncertain commodity markets. She hatched a plan and sought the capital to make it happen. She needed someone to show faith in her ability to nurture her idea into a sustainable business. In Opportunity, she found so much more than just a loan, she found a business partner. She used that loan to launch her business growing and selling mushrooms. That was in 2012 – she has never looked back.
Now that her children are young adults, Aidah’s dreams are focused on her business and her community: “My most fervent dreams are no longer for myself. I thrive on guiding women to generate income for their families through entrepreneurship. This income is used to send children to school.” Aidah doesn’t stop with mentoring women in her village, she is also a powerhouse in her community, actively participating in projects like bringing fresh water to families.
When Aidah speaks, people listen. Throughout her community in Mityana, she is respected as a woman of influence. Following in her husband’s footsteps as Chief of their village, Aidah serves as the vice chairperson of her local council. According to Aidah, “I am the kind of woman who is never left behind when a decision is needed or a when a project or opportunity comes to my community.” Her innate leadership skills are a benefit to the women in her Opportunity Trust Group and her village whom she mentors along their own journeys toward independence, teaching them the benefits of her low-risk, profitable mushroom operation. “I see an opportunity for women to run a business like growing mushrooms that require little attention and incur few losses, leaving time for them to guide their children and take a role in the community.“
Her farm is flourishing, a testimony to the growth in business skills and confidence she has achieved. A savings account, which she can access via her cell phone, is her favorite way to track her progress. Today, Aidah and her husband, once plagued with concerns about making ends meet, are looking forward to futures marked with bounty and hope for their family and community.
Mary Florence was working as a primary school teacher when her husband passed away from AIDS. Left to raise her seven children on her teacher’s salary, Mary Florence worked tirelessly to make sure she could provide food and shelter for her children, as well as afford to send them to good schools. She knew many of her neighbors also struggled to find and pay for quality education, so she decided to open up a small home school in her community with just three children to start.
Due to the small size of her school, Mary Florence was unable to earn enough money to buy supplies and other necessary materials. Then a parent told her about Opportunity. Mary Florence took out a small loan to build her first classroom – and her school has only grown from there.
Over the last decade, Mary Florence has received more than ten loans from Opportunity, which she has used to continue building her school and to purchase textbooks, lab equipment, and computers. Now, her school employs 50 neighbors and serves about 500 students in primary and secondary school, with an additional 100 infants and toddlers in her nursery section. She plans to continue expanding her school by adding a boarding section to improve attendance and standards.
“I feel so happy and so blessed with Opportunity for really supporting this whole cause by helping us get the money to work and to be able to support our children.”
There is nothing in this world that doting, single mom Delia loves more than her two boys, four-year-old Brian and eight-year-old Sebastian. A resourceful entrepreneur, she works hard to capitalize on the opportunities she accesses through Opportunity International to positively impact her sons, friends, and community. “I live to help people achieve a better life than I had - Opportunity helps me improve my life and enrich the lives of those I love.” She single-handedly recruited most of the entrepreneurs in her Trust Group.
Delia has invested four Opportunity loans averaging $200 since 2013. In addition to expanding her business, she accessed two Roof and Floor loans, making much-needed renovations including a toilet to make her home safer and healthier for her boys. Since adding display cases to her shop, where she sells accessories and Avon products, Delia says her customers take her more seriously. Business also picked up when Delia diversified her product offering to include unique handcrafted clothing.
Delia says, “The loans have helped, but truly, it’s more than just the loans – it is so much more than I ever expected.” Today, Delia is equipped to sustain and grow her business with the knowledge she gains through leadership and business skills training delivered by her Opportunity loan officer. “My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the social, economic and educational opportunities I access through Opportunity. My community status improved dramatically as I overhauled my business and renovated my home. I am proud of the home I provide for my boys; I no longer hang my head in shame. I have within myself all that I need to be a provider. I just needed a little help.”
Delia’s dreams for herself and her children are within reach because of her thriving business and steady income. “My dream is to move to a safer neighborhood in the future. I want to provide my children with a fulfilling life; I dream of them one-day attending university. I am so thankful for Opportunity. Having hope in my life is worth more than a million loans. I pray Opportunity stays here forever so my children’s children can give their families a better life just like I have.”