Marie Rose on her farm in Rwanda.
When small scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa have access to quality extension services, farming loans, savings accounts and other tools to manage cash flow between harvests, they not only increase their farming productivity, but can more easily feed their families and communities. As of June 30, 2016, Opportunity International's Agriculture Finance program has cumulatively disbursed 369,618 agricultural loans in more than 30 value chains across seven countries valued at $66.5 million. Each loan is packaged with targeted financial products andtraining in modern farming practices ensuring that farmers can achieve high-impact results. Marie Rose is one of those farmers.
Marie Rose owned a farm in Rwanda that failed to produce a bountiful maize crop. When her husband died suddenly, she could no longer afford the diabetes medication that was so critical to her continued good health. She quickly fell into a very dark and frightening place. “I was widowed and beyond poor,” Marie Rose said. “My husband left his farm to me, yet I was not educated in the modern farming ways. I was lost and alone. Then, I found Opportunity.” Grieving and in need of sound advice, she found the answers she sought when a friend invited her to join an Opportunity Rwanda Trust Group.
First, she rented out extra rooms in her home to trustworthy neighbors to generate immediate income. Next, she invested Opportunity loans to purchase high quality inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, improving her production. In no time, she was not only growing enough maize to store for her family, but she had plenty to sell at market. The increased income has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on her ability to manage her illness, support her family and even take on the care of several local orphans.
Transforming her maize farm in just two seasons has drawn plenty of attention from neighboring farmers. Filled with new confidence, she is certain to reach her goals to create jobs for local laborers and install a toilet and electricity in her home. With your help, Opportunity will decisively scale its agriculture services to millions of farmers like Marie Rose in the coming years.