May 18, 2011

Women Becoming Emerging Leaders

Alice Norah Lajwa of Opportunity Uganda is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Emerging Leaders Program. Alice says, “I want to see people’s lives transformed. What I’ve learned in this program will help me transform the lives of my women clients. [...] I try to encourage women to save. The more they save, the more they will be able to gain financial stability. [...] This will really help them. Not only them but their families as well.”

10,000 Women is a five-year investment by Goldman Sachs to provide 10,000 underserved women around the world with a business and management education. 10,000 Women operates through a network of more than 70 academic and non-profit partners to develop locally relevant coursework for students and to improve the quality and capacity of business education. Investing in women is one of the most effective ways to reduce inequality and facilitate inclusive economic growth. Investing in education for women has a significant multiplier effect, leading to more productive workers, healthier and better-educated families, and ultimately to more prosperous communities.
 
Opportunity International partners with 10,000 Women and Goldman Sachs to provide opportunities for graduates of the program to use their knowledge to train women in their own communities. 

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May 18, 2011

Youth Take Action Against Poverty

The World Festival of Youth and Students in Pretoria took place in South Africa this past year, the largest youth festival in the world. More than 500 young people from around the world gathered to discuss social, political and economic issues that affect their generation. Youth represent a growing share of the population in many developing countries, particularly those like South Africa, where the adult population has been heavily affected by AIDS deaths. Based in Pietermaritzburg, on South Africa’s eastern coast, Opportunity has five branches providing economic opportunities to the marginalized.

In a country where racial distrust had led to the deterioration of the culture of loan repayment, Opportunity was determined to succeed. Relying on academic and industry experts to help design products based on the needs of our clients, Opportunity South Africa now offers micro- and small business loans and–very importantly–training to small business owners creating jobs and opportunities where there once were none.
These financial opportunities are empowering entrepreneurs like Beauty Zulu, who wanted to grow her tiny sewing business but repeatedly has been denied loans by big commercial banks. When she found Opportunity South Africa, they approved her for a no-collateral loan to buy extra sewing machines, enabling her to hire two people. Subsequent loans for more machines enabled Beauty’s small business to now support 23 employees, many of them formerly unemployed youth who are gaining training, job skills, and a paycheck.
Manfred Kuhn, CEO of Opportunity South Africa, is particularly proud of Beauty. He says, “This woman has truly benefited from the loan form OFSA. It is these clients that we are actively targeting as they can make the biggest impact on poverty alleviation in South Africa.”
If today’s leaders can listen to the ideas of tomorrow’s leaders at the World Youth Festival this week, and support smart solutions like microfinance, the future will be bright for the youth of South Africa and other nations.

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May 18, 2011

Meet Transformational Impact Manager

Daniel with Clients in Rwanda
Daniel with Clients in Rwanda

 

Meet Daniel Ryumugabe, the transformational impact manager from Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB) of Rwanda. About life in Rwanda today, he told us, “Today, we are not just Hutus and Tutsis, we are not our ethnic groups, we are all Rwandans and we share one language and one culture.” Daniel shared the story of his childhood as a Rwandan refugee living in Uganda, and how he struggled to get an education, the only child in his family to go to university. He also told us about his work at Opportunity Rwanda guiding staff members to incorporate transformative training into their daily contact with our microfinance clients. 
As he told us, “Poverty is not just a deficit, not just a lack of resources, it is a deprivation. It is a trap with many cords. If you offer one solution–loans–but there are other problems related to health or financial education, the client cannot get out of the poverty trap.” Daniel reminds us of the complexity that is the problem of poverty, and he is also working hard to find solutions and create true transformation in Rwanda, physically, mentally and spiritually for the individuals who are working their way out of the cycle of poverty. 

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