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:
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!
Over the coming year, Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance team is refining our focus on key value chains that have the greatest potential to lift the most families out of poverty. One of the most important of which is cocoa in Ghana. Cocoa, as the largest export crop of the country, holds significant potential for growth in international markets.
In Ghana, Opportunity is working to help rural farmers overcome overwhelming obstacles, including poor crop yields, financial insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, unreliable market connections and inputs, as well as drought and political instability.
Currently, Opportunity serves cocoa farmers living in the main cocoa producing regions—Western, Central, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. As the demand for cocoa grows worldwide, Opportunity is committed to ensuring farmers in Ghana have access to financial services, training in good agricultural practices and essential value chain services, including suppliers of seed and fertilizer, equipment for irrigation and harvest and off-takers to purchase their crops at fair market value. These services help farmers increase their yields, improve the quality of their crops and earn higher incomes, empowering them to provide for their families, send their children to school and sustainably improve their lives.
Opportunity’s 2018 goals include:
For a small farmer in rural Ghana, a good harvest opens up countless possibilities. A good harvest means a farmer can grow her savings account, and send her children to school well-fed. It means she can make improvements to her home, buy medicine when she or her children are sick, and hire her neighbors to help on her growing farm, expanding opportunities for others in her community to earn a good income and work their way out of poverty.
Several years ago, Menci’s family couldn’t afford to eat nutritious meals each day. As a mother, she dreamed of sending her three children to school. Living in poverty in a rural Indonesia makes for a very challenging environment for families to save enough to educate their children, thus creating a seemingly endless cycle of generational poverty. “I grew up in a farming family – we grew vegetables on a small plot of land which has been handed down through generations. My husband and I wanted to work the land we inherited to support our family, but we did not have enough money to start. We were very poor.”
When Menci and her husband, Kefas, learned about Opportunity International, they knew it was the help they needed. They received a loan and were able to buy seedlings and fertilizer to help jumpstart their farm. “I bought spinach, kangkung (a leafy vegetable) and cabbage. Now I can harvest twice a week!”
Menci and her husband are using their income from the farm to provide for their family and send their children to school. Now, they eat regular meals of rice and vegetables from the farm. Menci knows the value of education and is hopeful her children with have a better life. She is even able to start saving for her family’s future!
Mothers like Menci, all over Indonesia, are working hard every day to start their own businesses in order to support their families and send their children to school.
Aidah, a proud wife and mother of six children, operates a farm in Mityana, Uganda. Her kids are grown and ready to take on the world because their mother and father have equipped them well. One child works as a journalist, one a teacher and the other siblings are farmers and entrepreneurs. Each in their own way has risen above the severe poverty that has marked the family for generations. There is much to be grateful for – however, for Aidah and her family, the future has not always held so much promise. Not long ago she and her husband rose each morning faced with feelings of fear and shame. The couple lacked access to the resources they needed to put nutritious food on the family table, pay for school fees, or purchase medicine when a child fell ill.
Aidah was growing several crops when she took her first loan of $167. The access to credit and training smoothed out her family’s cyclical farming income and provided extra capital to invest in future harvests. She reared chickens and silkworms in addition to growing coffee and bananas to sell at market. The operations were all risky—dependent on good weather and uncertain commodity markets. She hatched a plan and sought the capital to make it happen. She needed someone to show faith in her ability to nurture her idea into a sustainable business. In Opportunity, she found so much more than just a loan, she found a business partner. She used that loan to launch her business growing and selling mushrooms. That was in 2012 – she has never looked back.
Now that her children are young adults, Aidah’s dreams are focused on her business and her community: “My most fervent dreams are no longer for myself. I thrive on guiding women to generate income for their families through entrepreneurship. This income is used to send children to school.” Aidah doesn’t stop with mentoring women in her village, she is also a powerhouse in her community, actively participating in projects like bringing fresh water to families.
When Aidah speaks, people listen. Throughout her community in Mityana, she is respected as a woman of influence. Following in her husband’s footsteps as Chief of their village, Aidah serves as the vice chairperson of her local council. According to Aidah, “I am the kind of woman who is never left behind when a decision is needed or a when a project or opportunity comes to my community.” Her innate leadership skills are a benefit to the women in her Opportunity Trust Group and her village whom she mentors along their own journeys toward independence, teaching them the benefits of her low-risk, profitable mushroom operation. “I see an opportunity for women to run a business like growing mushrooms that require little attention and incur few losses, leaving time for them to guide their children and take a role in the community.“
Her farm is flourishing, a testimony to the growth in business skills and confidence she has achieved. A savings account, which she can access via her cell phone, is her favorite way to track her progress. Today, Aidah and her husband, once plagued with concerns about making ends meet, are looking forward to futures marked with bounty and hope for their family and community.
In the small city of Arjona, Bolivar location approximately 40 minutes south of Cartagena, Engelberto is a member of the "Hand of God" trust group established by Opportunity. Using the loans made available to him, Engelberto purchases agricultural products from farmers to sell in his community while simultaneously selling food produce such as avocados, bananas, plantains and yucca depending on the season. He initially took out a loan of $180,000 pesos ($90) and is now in the process of paying back his seventh loan which has a value of $600,000 (approx. $300). With a family which include his wife and eight children, Engelberto's business is the only source of income that sustains them.
Up until 11 years ago when he relocated with his family to Arjona, Engelberto resided on a small farm in the country near the village of Maria La Baja. One day, he decided to take an early morning bus headed to Cartagena so he arrive at the market ahead of others. In an unfortunate turn of events, the bus he was on was stopped by armed who ordered all the passengers to get off the bus. The men were from a paramilitary group that sought to find guerillas by inquiring where each passenger was from. Those who answered that they were from a rural area were murdered. While Engleberto survived the ordeal, five of his closest friends were not as fortunate. It was on that day that he moved to Arjona with his family.
Today, Engelberto travels to Carmen de Bolivar by bus twice a week to buy between 250 and 300 avocados. This is a step up from the 40-50 avocados he used to buy prior to receiving the loan from Opportunity. He purchases from farmers or wholesales before returning to the streers of Arjona to sell three large burlap bags of avocados to his neighbors.
The money he has made from his business this year was put to use when his wife fell ill and was in need of surgery and medication. He blessed to be able to pay the $200 deductible for the surgery and medications as this was something he says he never would have been able to afford this. For the assistance that Opportunity has given him and the chance to care for his family is very grateful.
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