May 18, 2011

Financial Services Empowering Congolese

On May 11, 2011 Opportunity International announced additional backing for the expansion of its international community banking network into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM) has contributed $250,000 to support Opportunity DRC’s development of safe, community banking within the country. TFM, majority owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., operates the Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine in the Katanga Province of the DRC, the largest private investment (approximately $2 billion) in the DRC. 

Currently, only 1 percent of DRC citizens have access to basic financial services. “In bringing our community banking system to the DRC, Opportunity International is breaking down barriers and providing its citizens with basic, safe and affordable financial tools,” said Bill Morgenstern, CEO, Opportunity International.  Freeport-McMoRan and TFM are committed to initiatives to improve public health, education, and economic development in the communities where they operate. Richard C. Adkerson, president and CEO of Freeport-McMoRan said, “Our contribution to Opportunity International is aligned with the broader investment we are making within the DRC and is part of a strong commitment to improve the lives of those who live in our communities, and throughout the country. We are pleased to support Opportunity International’s efforts to expand access to financial services to the Congolese people.” 

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May 18, 2011

Expanding Schools, Extending Lives in Ghana

 

Joyce Opoku dreamed of starting an early childhood care and learning facility that would provide children living in poverty with a good foundation for first grade. In 2005, the Lucky Child Daycare Center opened with seven pupils in her father’s concrete block house in a poor suburb of Kumasi, Ghana. Then in 2009, the center was invited to become part of the IDP Rising Schools Program, a unique partnership between Opportunity and the IDP Foundation, Inc. 
The program’s goal is to boost the development of existing, but very poor non-governmental schools for disadvantaged children throughout Ghana. With a focus on helping schools improve business management, administrative effectiveness and teacher development, the program also builds a sustainable, holistic, educational model that can be replicated throughout the developing world. 
Joyce received 16 weeks of training in business management and accounting skills with Opportunity International, and a six-month loan to make physical improvements to the school. Now that she has repaid the loan, she is requesting a second loan to buy a permanent piece of land. With support from the IDP Rising Schools program, Joyce is helping 150 children embark on the path to a better future. 
(Impact Newsletter, Spring 2011)

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May 18, 2011

Technology in Africa Improving Lives

 

Opportunity’s Banking on Africa campaign received a boost with a $40,000 grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Fund through the Orange County Community Foundation of Newport Beach, Calif. The grant supports exceptional microenterprise programs that help individuals and families in Africa increase their income-earning capacity and improve their standard of living. 
Also, new technology is making it easier for Opportunity to reach clients in rural areas. Introducing: the ebike. E-bikes are the focus of a new Opportunity pilot project in six African countries. With these electric bicycles, Opportunity International loan officers are able to travel to rural client locations previously navigable only by car. According to Daryl Skoog, Opportunity International’s senior vice president of technology, “With our rural expansion, we were seeking a low-cost mode of transportation with a target of $.05 cents per mile, versus the $.50 per mile it costs us per officer today.
Our Banking on Africa campaign aims to reach five million clients by 2015 with access to savings, loans and other tailored financial services, especially in rural areas. They will be reached through a combination of new access points and technology, including mobile banks, ATMs, point-of-sale \devices, cell phones and biometrics. 

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