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Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Tanzania

Despite growth resulting from gold production and tourism, Tanzania remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Approximately 36 percent of Tanzanians live below the poverty line. Yet the country’s economic potential is unmistakable.

One out of every three Tanzanians is self-employed, indicating a high level of microenterprise activity. Only 20 percent of the population, however, has access to a formal bank within an hour’s walking distance of their home. Recognizing this great need, Opportunity Tanzania, headquartered in Dar es Salaam, was established in 2007 and serves clients through hub branches in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Moshi, and two satellite branches, in Tengeru and Himo.

Opportunity Internationals programs in Tanzania are fundraising to build a regulated bank that will offer savings products and give clients a safe place to save their money, no matter how small the amount.

In addition to individual and Trust Group loans, Opportunity has started offering Solidarity Group loans in Tanzania. These loans are tailored for a growth-oriented enterprise with group sizes of five to 10 entrepreneurs who run medium-sized businesses. Unlike the Trust Group lending model, Solidarity Groups receive larger loans, and clients make monthly loan payments versus weekly.

Only 4 percent of people in rural areas have a bank account and, while 70 percent of Tanzanians earn some income from growing and selling crops, only 1 percent has ever used a loan to buy seeds, tools or fertilizer. The new Agricultural Finance program will empower some of Tanzania’s most marginalized rural communities and will launch in the South Corridor, a region that accounts for the majority of the country’s agricultural activity and has high potential for increased food production.

Opportunity International’s work and expansion in Tanzania offers hope to people who have never before had access to formal financial services.

Jan 7, 2014

Program Update: Educating Children

Maryhill Junior School
Maryhill Junior School

Education is the single largest determining factor for future economic status. Yet, 130 million young people worldwide are not in school—and 70 percent are girls. If a girl cannot complete secondary school, she is at a higher risk of illiteracy, HIV and early marriage, offering little chance of reaching her potential.

One out of every two people on this planet struggles to feed and educate their children. Your support helps Opportunity bring new educational opportunities to children in impoverished neighborhoods around the world. With financial support and business training, school proprietors can build schools and hire teachers, as well as add classrooms, meal services and lavatories. School Propietors like Thomas Balya Bugembe. 

Thomas, a former seminarian, dreamed of opening a school for the underserved students of Sonde, Uganda. In 2006, he opened Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School with just 37 students in two rooms on land.

Enrollment grew steadily, and so did Thomas’ determination to improve the quality of education for his students -- whose parents were mostly subsistencefarmers.

With a series of incremental loans,Opportunity Uganda helped Thomas purchase his own land and expand the school to include a main hall and a kindergarten wing. He now has 14 qualified teachers at Maryhill Kindergarten and Junior School to help him serve nearly 400 Ugandan students.

Thomas says his partnership with Opportunity International will allow him to continue expanding the range of educational opportunities at Maryhill and offer a brighter future for students.

Thomas plans to construct a school library, complete with a computer lab and technological training for students. He has a vision of three separate buildings: one each for kindergarten students, day students and boarding students.

Jan 7, 2014

Rural Outreach Update in Africa

In the developing world, people living in rural and remote areas are not only the most impoverished but also the least likely to have access to financial services, especially when the nearest financial institution may be hours—or even days—away. In response to this challenge, Opportunity International brings financial services to where our clients live and work, no matter the distance.

Opportunity International is addressing the financial needs of isolated rural communities through innovative technologies and an expanding network of banks. Our client-facing technologies provide convenient financial access, allowing impoverished people to quickly access their funds so they can focus on generating income and achieving their financial goals. These groundbreaking client services equip Opportunity International banks to reach more people outside of urban centers—and at a lower cost through increasingly cashless and paperless processes.

Here is a program and product update on our rural expansion work in Africa. 

  • Low-Cost Branches: Opportunity deploys hub branches in trade centers and surround them with small, low-cost outlets as spokes that reach surrounding rural communities. New branches are in development worldwide. Whether full service, mobile or satellite kiosk, these banks bring hope through economic opportunity to families who have no other access to financial services.
  • Mobile Banking:  Vans Armored banking vehicles travel bring banking services to rural clients.
  • Agent Banking:  Opportunity installs point-of-sale devices in bank branches, mobile vans and local businesses to allow clients to conveniently bank in a variety of easy-to-reach locations. This extends the reach of the bank without the cost of establishing a full satellite branch.
  • ATMs: These machines enable clients to bank at any time.
  • Cell Phone Banking: Mobile phones are used as a channel for financial information and services, providing clients with banking access anywhere with cellular reception.

Before Opportunity International’s mobile bank came to his town in Mozambique, Lucas Chingore was among the millions of unbanked with little hope of establishing a business. It was a half-day trek to the closest bank and the only loans he could obtain were from unreliable sources that charged high interest. For rural entrepreneurs like Lucas, Opportunity International’s mobile banks make weekly stops within walking distance of their homes and businesses, saving clients valuable time and money.


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