Young Ambassadors for Opportunity just hosted a Jump for Opportunity skydiving event on Feb. 19, 2011 in Orlando, Fla. The 29 dedicated young professionals, entrepreneurs and Opportunity supporters who jumped have already raised over $100,000 to empower Opportunity’s microfinance clients in Tanzania. YAO chapters sponsor social and educational events to build awareness and to raise funds for the creation of an Opportunity bank in Tanzania.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world with approximately 90 percent of Tanzanians living on less than $2 per day, and 60 percent living on less than $1 per day. One out of every three Tanzanians is self-employed, yet less than five percent of the population has access to formal banking and financial services. Recognizing this great need, Opportunity International is building a bank, and since 2008, has doubled its outreach in Tanzania. The organization is currently in the process of converting into a deposit-taking institution.
Contributors to “Jump for Opportunity” will be helping to expand access to financial services so that more people in Tanzania will be able to secure their savings, borrow capital for their businesses, receive training to develop professional and life skills, and purchase insurance to protect their assets. With their help, Opportunity International can empower people to work their way out of chronic poverty, to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.
In recent news, Opportunity loans have brought about better housing in developing areas. For many Colombians, heavy rains bring about serious challenges.
Nobody knows this better than Danilsa Maria Hernandez Ramos of Arjona. Danilsa’s traditional village home used to pool with water, turning her dirt floors into mud and creating an unhealthy environment for her children. Now, after a two-year pilot program, Opportunity has rolled out a floor and roof loan product for reliable, established clients like Danilsa who are installing concrete floors and replacing leaking tin roofs. The loan is repaid over 18 to 24 months, with payments declining to around $5 later in the cycle. Clients receive technical building advice, as well as discounted pricing on repair supplies.
Opportunity program manager Astrid Suarez says, “Having a floor helps give dignity to a person. God is using Opportunity and this program to benefit many families.” Astrid estimates that 50% of our clients in Colombia do not have floors in their homes.
Having been ravaged by four back-to-back typhoons, the Philippines is enduring a humanitarian crisis on a national scale. Farmers have lost entire crops, families have lost thriving businesses and community members have had to lean on one another for support.
The good news is that MicroEnsure, Opportunity International’s microinsurance subsidiary, and TSKI, one of Opportunity’s longest-standing microfinance institutions, are truly helping the poor in the Philippines to “weather life’s storms.” Smallholder farmers are rebuilding their lives and their farms with MicroEnsure’s weather-index crop insurance, which provides an automatic payout within 10 days of the storm.