Banking on Africa

by Opportunity International
Vetted
Samuel on his farm in Rwanda
Samuel on his farm in Rwanda

Thank you to all those who have supported Opportunity International’s Banking on Africa initiative through Global Giving. We are deactivating this project because we have surpassed our fundraising goal thanks to the generosity of donors like you, and we are redirecting our fundraising efforts to other areas of need around the world.

With your help, Opportunity has decisively scaled its agriculture services in Africa. When small scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa receive farming loans, savings accounts and other tools to manage cash flow between harvests, they significantly increase their productivity and yields and receive fair prices for their crops. Each loan is packaged with targeted financial products, training in modern farming practices and links to extension services to maximize farmer outputs and to ensure measurable economic and social impact.

In 2015, Opportunity empowered farmers by delivering 128,200 agricultural loans valuing $17.5 million, representing a 77% growth since year-end 2014. With each passing year our impact grows and we are grateful for your generosity that makes our holistic approach possible. You are equipping entrepreneurs to perpetuate a cycle of lasting transformation in their lives, in their families’ lives and across their communities.

We encourage you to follow Opportunity International on Facebook and Twitter to see our work in action, and visit our Global Giving page to see our other active projects.

Thank you!

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Marie Rose on her farm in Rwanda.
Marie Rose on her farm in Rwanda.

When small scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa access quality extension services, farming loans, savings accounts and other tools to manage cash flow between harvests, they significantly increase their productivity. These benefits lead to measurable economic and social impact throughout Africa.

Since the launch of our Agriculture Finance Initiative in 2009, Opportunity delivered more than 350,000 farming loans valued at $67 million and 400,000 savings accounts to small scale farmers. Each loan is packaged with targeted financial products, training in modern farming practices and links to extension services to ensure high-impact results. Contributing to this strong growth, Opportunity Rwanda tripled the number of loans made to farmers in 2015 to 35,498. Marie Rose is one of those farmers.

Marie Rose owned a farm 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, 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 from mediocre to amazing 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.

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Brigite at her market stall in Kinshasa
Brigite at her market stall in Kinshasa

Opportunity DR Congo is achieving a profound impact on the lives of hard-working entrepreneurs by building a financially inclusive DR Congo with access to economic opportunity for all. In the first half of 2015, banks more than doubled the number of clients with a savings account to 7,669, up from 3,534 at the close of 2014. All four Opportunity DRC branches are led by women and the bank currently disburses 55% of its loans to women; women like Brigite.

Brigite’s warm smile greets shoppers, stopping them in their tracks as they scurry from stall to stall in Kinshasa’s bustling marketplace. Proudly showing off her wares, Brigite has the tools she needs to face the daily challenges associated with supporting a large family amidst the difficult economic climate of the DR Congo. Until recently, she struggled to make ends meet selling salted fish, a seasonal income source, barely earning enough to put food on the table. A natural entrepreneur, she realized she had to find a steadier revenue stream. Ever resourceful, Brigite jumped at the chance to join an Opportunity International Trust Group, and she has never looked back.

Brigite strategically invested her loans to diversify her inventory, adding fufu, a local food staple, and maize alongside the salted fish at her market stall. In no time at all, Brigite’s daily profits rose by a remarkable 63%. Today, Brigite earns enough to feed and clothe her family and send her kids to school. By leaning on the wisdom of the women in her Trust Group and gaining knowledge from financial literacy training provided by her loan officer, Brigite’s confidence is soaring. She has learned to save to expand her business and increase her income.

“I am grateful for the positive impact of Opportunity International, not only on my family but on my whole community,” Brigite said. She is empowered to ensure a bright future for herself and for her family. She is focused on expanding her business and, for the first time ever, she allows herself to dream about sending her children to university, breaking the chains of generational poverty once and for all.

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Rorance at her fabric business.
Rorance at her fabric business.

Despite economic challenges experienced in 2014, Opportunity Rwanda increased its number of clients with savings accounts by 150% over the prior year. 175,421 clients now have access to savings with a total value of $13,580,481 in savings deposits. This growth marks a significant milestone for most entrepreneurs who have previously not had access to financial services and for Opportunity Rwanda which was named a top-running bank by the National Bank of Rwanda. Because of you, families are operating income-generating businesses and saving for the first time. Farmers are increasing production to put food on the family table, and improve food security in their communities, and parents are sending their children to school, including Rorance, the sole provider for eight children.

Rorance is elated about the transformation she has achieved for herself and for her family. Not long ago, she found herself abandoned and frightened for her seven children and one orphan entrusted in her care. Before joining an Opportunity Rwanda Trust Group, Rorance struggled to bring her fabric business to profitability. Today, she is able to feed her children two nutritious meals each day and send them all to school. With your help, their future is bright. 

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Isabelle is a soybean farmer from Mozambique
Isabelle is a soybean farmer from Mozambique

Opportunity is impacting the lives of 5.2 million clients throughout Africa, 354,557 of which are active loan clients. Our Agriculture Finance program helps empower farmers by providing them with loans and training in modern farming practices. Innovative cell phone and agent banking tools are increasing our rural outreach by bringing the bank directly to the farmer’s field, and we are reaching even more smallholder farmers since launching the initiative in Kenya and Tanzania. Rural families now have accessible and secure banking options for the first time, and cell phone banking gives them 24-7 secure and efficient access to financial services without costly trips to the bank.

In 2014, Opportunity Uganda customized school fee loans for farmer families who earn seasonal income and struggle to keep their children in school between harvests. 41 schools also received school improvement loans to improve sanitation and build new classrooms at their facilities, positively impacting 35,250 students. Opportunity Kenya reached more rural families by launching a new branch in Kisumu, which has rapidly become one of the bank’s most successful branches, providing rice and fish farmers with much-needed financial services. Other branches in Kenya also helped 525 families keep their children in school with school fee loans.

Opportunity Malawi continues to provide a safe way to save for nearly 670,000 families, offering them a safety net of savings through the country’s economic turbulence. Opportunity Tanzania focuses on reaching out to the underbanked in rural regions by providing 120 irrigated rice farmers with loans for inputs and labor and 70 sunflower farmers with loans for their operations. Opportunity Ghana continues to increase awareness about their financial services in rural areas, and their newest bank branch in Tamale opened its doors to 66 loan clients and 177 savers, with the hope of helping many more clients to come.

Opportunity Mozambique has also worked to raise awareness in 25 communities by conducting financial literacy roadshows in rural towns. They expanded their reach to include sesame farmers who represent 26% of the bank’s Agricultural Finance portfolio. Farmers like Isabelle have already benefited from the financial services that Opportunity Mozambique offers. As a mother of six children, she rises at dawn each day to work her farm and to provide for her family. "I used my loan to hire laborers and purchase high quality fertilizer. I learned modern farming practices and exceeded my husband's production, selling 84 bags of soya against 35 bags on the same size plot. My husband has been looking at me differently - with respect and pride," she said. By providing farmers like Isabelle with training and resources to improve their harvests, and by giving families the opportunity to save and invest in their futures, Opportunity is creating holistic change in rural communities throughout Africa. 

 

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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.opportunity.org
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, IL United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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