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Jul 19, 2018

Meet Maria - A Business Owner in Rwanda

Maria is a dedicated wife and mother-to-be who wants nothing more than to support her child when it is born. Growing up, she was very poor. She didn’t go to school, and she didn’t have any support. Even though she searched and searched for work, supporting herself seemed hopeless. Thankfully, her friends saw her desire to work. They advised her to join an Opportunity International Trust Group. She used her first loan to launch a business and worked very hard, ultimately repaying the loan without any problems. Today, she is investing her fifth loan and has successfully built a thriving eatery that is a favorite among locals. She started with absolutely nothing and has grown to become an inspiration among the women in her community, with a reputation for going above and beyond to satisfy her customers.

Having more than quadrupled her monthly income, the family’s future outlook has changed dramatically. Maria says she has benefited substantially from her Trust Group membership. Her group called Those Who Walk Together, and her loan officer Jen, have played a huge role in her success. According to Maria, even her husband looks at her with new eyes. She feels more like a partner in her marriage and she has been blessed by the new relationship based on respect and admiration. Her husband works exceptionally hard as a farmer but his business income ebbs and flows in a cycle according to planting and harvest seasons. Maria’s success has become the difference between a struggling family and a life of abundance with the promise of education for her children. Educating her children serves as the busy couple’s primary motivation in working toward their goals for their business and family. The couple recently invested the business profits to diversify their farm income to purchase goats and pigs.

Your donations help provide tools and training that empower women like Maria around the world, so that they may raise their families out of poverty. Thank you!

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Jul 19, 2018

The Impact of Education Finance

Charles at Top Care School
Charles at Top Care School

Every day, Charles is determined to live up to the name of his schoolTop Care. He chose the name because of his passion for children having a chance to learn in the best environment possible. Over the years, Charles has made dozens of improvements with the help of Opportunity School Improvement Loans, including the addition of new classrooms and dormitories. As a result, student enrollment has grown from 24 students in 2005 to now more than 890. Charles plans to use his next loan to expand his schools boarding facilities again in order to provide more girls from rural communities with a safe place to live while they access quality education.

Charles is not the only one who has been impacted by the Education Finance program at Opportunity International. Since 2008, Opportunity has delivered more than 180,000 loans valuing $105 million to improve schools and get kids in the classroom. We have been able to provide 2.3 million children with access to a quality education in their own communities. In addition to this, Opportunity's EduFinance portfolios have created 290,000 new sustainable seats in affordable classrooms and supported 96,000 new jobs within the educational ecosystem.

However, education is more than just a seat in the classroom. Opportunity puts quality first, and with the launch of Education Quality, Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, quality is emphasized. The program offers the only approach that addresses the capital needs of parents and school owners while deepening the skills and competencies of local teachers and staff–all within a sustainable, low-cost framework that can be replicated worldwide.

Opportunity is currently delivering this Education Quality program in five countries, in which 630 schools receive support through our school cluster system. School clusters are groups of 4-12 schools that join together to collaborate on curriculum, share best practices, receive training, and build local standards of excellence to improve student outcomes.

By supporting Opportunity’s EduFinance initiative, you are accelerating the achievement of education for every child around the world. Parents everywhere want to give their children a good education and a chance to escape generational poverty. Educators are stepping up to fill the gaps left by public school systems. By providing access to capital, training, and local support, you are providing the catalyst for affordable private schools to rapidly expand and improve in the most marginalized communities and continue doing so long after our first intervention.

A student at Top Care
A student at Top Care

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Jul 19, 2018

Smallholder Farmers and Agriculture Finance

Smallholder farmers living in rural areas are often particularly vulnerable economically due to factors such as unpredictable weather patterns, low crop yield, low market prices, and a lack of access to quality financial services.

Opportunity recognizes the need for financial services for those living in poverty in rural areas and whose livelihoods are often dependent on their crop yield. Agriculture Finance provides farmers with tailored savings and loan products, connections to high-quality farm inputs, training in business and farming best practices, and market access. These tools have enabled smallholder farmers across seven African countries to earn a more reliable income.

Opportunity’s tools help farmers to be more resilient to external shocks that are often beyond their control. Ninety-four percent of our clients live on less than $2.50/day and 61% of our clients are women—indicative of Opportunity’s desire to reach the most marginalized.

Since the Agricultural Finance program launched, Opportunity has:

  • Empowered farmers within 42 crop types.
  • Reached 91% of our goal to empower 500,000 farmers by the end of 2017.
  • Established partnerships with 54 External Service Providers to enhance the services we provide to smallholder farmers.
  • Created 16 agricultural finance publications to develop and educate the farming community.

Yakuba, who lives in Ghana, is farming smarter with the tools from Opportunity’s AgFinance program.

“I was blessed with 10 acres of land. Unfortunately, I only farmed three due to lack of capital and labor. Then, I heard about Opportunity Ghana. I eagerly enrolled in the training sessions and before long I invested my first loan to purchase seeds and fertilizer. We got the use of farming equipment and access to a buyer for my sorghum. I have never had this training and support before. On my first harvest, the buyer paid my loan directly and sent me the profit. Today, I have money in a savings account to pay for my children’s school uniforms and books. My family has a bright future.”

Opportunity is eager to develop more innovative products so that we may continue to empower farmers like Yakuba to cultivate brighter futures for her their families. Thank you for your support!

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