Help bring Financial Stability to Uganda

by Opportunity International
Jet Valley Primary School, Uganda
Jet Valley Primary School, Uganda

More than 67 million children worldwide are not in school, including one in four in Africa. Education unlocks and fuels a child's potential as a proven path out of poverty, and Opportunity is putting education into action in Uganda. With your support, Opportunity’s Education Finance initiative is positively impacting schools and students throughout the country where 100,727 children are positively impacted by the program. Some of these students attend Jet Valley Primary School, an Opportunity School Improvement loan client that launched a girls club that embarked on a social enterprise project aimed at having a positive impact on the environment. The students brainstormed to solve issues the school and student body were facing and identified a common desire to address a soil erosion problem that was putting the school compound, its buildings and classrooms at risk of structural issues.

After completing research, they adopted a solution to plant grass and flowers within and surrounding the school compound to provide cover and reduce erosion. The young leaders compiled an action plan and showed excellent teamwork, exhibiting their newly developed confidence as they presented it to school administrators. Club members developed a budget implementing what they had learned in their Planning and Budgeting training to develop a realistic request of $24.88 to purchase seed, fertilizer and gardening equipment. The administrators agreed and the group began demarcating and tiling quadrangles around the school in April 2015 and began planting in June.

The club and school proprietor are quite pleased with the progress and impressed with the new level of pride students are showing in the school. This project and the Planning and Budgeting training the students received gave them a broader understanding about the importance of budgeting and practical plans for putting savings into practice. This holistic approach to education has kept girls in the classroom and helped Jet Valley Primary School improve infrastructure and quality of education for its many students.

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A teacher with students at Real Quality Jr School
A teacher with students at Real Quality Jr School

By investing in education, Opportunity Uganda is keeping children in school and promoting a brighter future. A growing school can permanently alter the socioeconomic reality of a community, creating an “upward spiral” of economic opportunities that provide families with the means to keep kids in school, forever changing the survival prospects of those families.

Real Quality Junior School  in Kampala, Uganda, started out small, but thanks to the hard work of founding couple, Lydia and Antoli, and your support, the school has grown from 50 to 1,200 students. Futures are brighter than ever for students at Real Quality Junior School where parents use Opportunity School Fee loans to keep kids in school when finances are tight. Opportunity Uganda redesigned School Fee loans to support households with uneven cash flows, which has helped farming families that are affected by seasonal cycles that can jeopardize school enrollment. Since 2013, Opportunity Uganda’s School Fee Loan portfolio has grown by 22% with 5,562 active loans as of February 28, 2015. The total value of the loan portfolio is $784,350, which will impact 17,273 students, the most of any Opportunity school fee loan program.

Real Quality Junior School’s impact ripples beyond the students with more than 90 staff jobs and countless more jobs created within the surrounding community. Teachers at Real Quality Junior School are empowered with the right tools to help students succeed—they are inspired to make a lasting difference. And this is just one of more than 1,000 schools you are helping us support globally. 

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Evans with his wife, Roy, and daughter, Luyiga.
Evans with his wife, Roy, and daughter, Luyiga.

2014 was year of collaboration and growth for Opportunity Uganda, which closed the year with active loans to 28,982 entrepreneurs. But loans are only one of the tools Opportunity continues to use to empower people living in extreme poverty.

Opportunity Uganda disbursed $2.8 million in loans to farmers who raise livestock and grow bananas, coffee, cotton, maize and sugarcane. They also collaborated with the Uganda Coffee Farmer Alliance to reach 2,500 coffee farmers and with Joseph Initiative to empower 1,000 maize farmers. A partnership with John Deere also changed the lives of several farmers who have dreamed of owning their own tractors. Opportunity Uganda financed five farmers and another 17 are eagerly awaiting approval for their tractors.

Opportunity Uganda also customized school fee loans for farmer families who earn seasonal income and struggle to keep their children in school between harvests, resulting in a 22% growth in lending over the prior year. Schools themselves were also supported through School Improvement loans which were given to 41 institutions to improve sanitation and build new classrooms. 35,250 students were positively impacted by these school improvements, and the loans helped provide numerous communities with quality educational facilities.

Ridgeway School is one of many schools that has grown as a result of school improvement loans from Opportunity. Evans founded Ridgeway Primary School in 2007 with just 100 students, holding lessons in a dilapidated wooden structure on a rented plot of land. Determined to provide a better environment for his students and his three daughters, Evans obtained a series of Opportunity International loans. As a result of his hard work and passion for education, Evans has built a boarding facility, purchased land and constructed a primary school building serving 915 students. Evans’ dream to educate Ugandan students is evident through his efforts to improve the school which has attracted highly qualified teachers and local families. His goal is to expand the school to 5,000 students and provide students with life skills and computer literacy training before they advance to secondary school.

By supporting the dreams of clients like Evans, Opportunity can empower entrepreneurs to raise themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.

Opportunity Uganda’s operations are expanding to empower thousands of marginalized individuals. Opportunity currently reaches more than 27,000 clients with loan services and upwards of 105,000 Ugandans hold savings accounts. Savings outreach grew by 20% in the first half of 2014 alone. Three new branches were opened in 2013, and now clients all over Uganda have access to Opportunity’s services offered in 19 branches. In addition to new branches, cell phone banking and additional ATMs and mobile banking vehicles were introduced in 2014 and have increased accessibility to financial services for clients ranging from smallholder farmers to school proprietors.

Financial services enable clients to improve their businesses, gain access to education, provide adequate nutrition for their families and transform their communities. Given this information, Opportunity recognizes the need to improve financial literacy so that clients are able to make the most of the loan, savings and insurance products Opportunity offers. In addition to the traditional four week loan orientation program for new clients, Opportunity Uganda has launched a financial literacy “soap opera” training series that is broadcasted via radio and television in local languages. This creative training mechanism has gained popularity, and viewers and listeners find it both funny and informative. Opportunity’s financial training is not limited to adults; The Youth Financial Education program was recently launched in Uganda to provide financial education and employability training to youth. Opportunity has partnered with education organization Aflatoun, whose curriculum provides students with training on basic financial and enterprise-related themes, encouraging student commitment to education and employment.

The new training modules inform clients about how best to use the variety of financial products Opportunity offers. Recently added products have been designed to increase child saving and improve access to education. Opportunity Uganda has introduced a Child Savings Account, allowing a parent or guardian to open an account for their child. The account restricts withdrawals to one per month to encourage long-term saving to use toward costs like education. The Education Finance initiative has provided School Improvement loans for 108 school proprietors and has assisted 4,552 families with School Fee loans to cover education costs. Opportunity continues to serve thousands of Ugandan clients with a wide range of financial services and training programs developed to help empower the marginalized to rise out of poverty.

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By investing in technology and education, Opportunity Uganda is improving farmer yields and keeping children in school, fending off the pangs of the hungry season and promoting a brighter future.

In 2013, Opportunity Uganda opened three new mobile banks and four ATMs. This, combined with the launch of cell phone banking, means that clients have fewer expenses and easier access to financial services. As of December 2013, 1800 clients were using mobile banking, eliminating the time and danger of traveling long distances while handling cash. Technology helps with crop production as well: using GPS technology provided by the Grameen Foundation, Opportunity Uganda agriculture officers were able to map out farmers’ cocoa plots, diagnose crop diseases, and obtain market information.

School loans are also a priority for Opportunity Uganda. In the next two years, Opportunity plans to support an additional 30 school proprietors with School Improvement loans, bettering education for 7500 students. School Fee loans, which help keep children in school even if their parents cannot afford tuition, are being expanded as well: Opportunity plans to reach an additional 3000 students by February 2016.

Opportunity Uganda opened the doors of three new branches in 2013, bringing the total to 19 branches across the country. These 19 branches serve over 100,000 clients — a growth of 26% from 2012 — all of whom are investing in and working toward their dreams.

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Organization Information

Opportunity International

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