Microloans Create Opportunities for Indian Women

by Opportunity International

In 1989, Opportunity International began operations in India, home to the largest global concentration of impoverished people. Although regulatory uncertainty in India continues to make loan disbursement difficult, Opportunity India today serves more than 1.4 million clients throughout the country, and disburses 98 percent of its loans to women.

Because of your support we have been able to provide the following financial, products services and training to women in India: 

  • Insurance: Opportunity India partners with our insurance subsidiary, MicroEnsure, to offer health, life and accident insurance.
  • Habitat for Humanity partnership: Opportunity India is developing affordable Housing Loans relevant to the interests and needs of our clients.
  • Empowering and Mentoring: Mentoring designed to educate women on domestic violence awareness, family health and suicide prevention.
  • Community Outreach: Opportunity' s programs in India build strategic alliances to encourage community-wide transformation. For example, through Dia Vikas we address water, sanitation and health issues in partnerships with Healing Fields and Water.org.

With your support, we are meeting the unique needs of the women we serve in India through targeted financial services and products that make a practical, holistic transformation in their daily lives. This project on GlobalGiving has reached its fully funded status!! Thank you for all your help. All recurring donations in existance to this project will be rolled over to a similar Opportunity International program in the Philippines. Please email getinfo@opportunity.org with any questions about this projects closure due to being funded completely! 

Because of your generous support, women like Suvarna are able to overcome the hardships associated with chronic poverty. With access to financial services, families no longer have to fear tomorrow. Just a small loan can give a hardworking entrepreneur the opportunity to achieve life-changing transformation. With the proper tools, our clients are able to accomplish their dreams and build secure futures. Your commitment to Opportunity has changed everything for Suvarna and the women in her community.

Abandoned by her husband, Suvarna Panurang Phalke was forced to live in the Azadnager slum with her son and no means of support. With a child and no formal skills outside her duties as a housewife, Suvarna feared for her future. Hearing about Opportunity, she recognized her chance to start a new chapter in her life.

Investing an initial loan of $18, Suvarna purchased a used sewing machine and opened a tailoring business in a market stall. Using subsequent loans and the support from her Trust Group, Suvarna moved from the slums to Pune, where she runs a thriving business that created jobs for eight other women from the local slums. Suvarna says “My greatest reward is to generate jobs for other women; I want to help as many as possible out of the slums.” Suvarna is getting closer and closer to her dream of owning a home and giving her son a college education.
Deepa teaching others to make jewlery
Deepa teaching others to make jewlery

Meet Opportunity Loan Client, Deepa. Deepa is a jewelry maker living in Chennai, India.

Deepa comes from a marginalized gypsy community in an unhealthy living environment. Before joining Opportunity, Deepa used to collect and sell waste paper, earning less than $2 a day.She felt stuck in poverty until she heard about Opportunity International's banking services. She was able to secure her first loan of US $55 from Opportunity and purchased plastic Tiffin boxes to sell in the market, which still netted her a meager income. So she decided to take out a second loan of US $146. WIth the loan, she bought materials to create necklaces that she sold at the local market for a good price. For the first time in her life, she was able to make a sustainable living.  

The gypsy women in Deepa’s community noticed her success and asked her for her help. She taught them how to make the beautiful necklaces and gave them advice on selling them.The women became Opportunity clients too and took out loans of their own. 

Now, every Friday, the entire community gathers at the market to sell their products, working as a team. This is how just one loan can make the difference in a community. It empowers women to make a sustaibable living and teach others who are struggling in their community to do the same. Your contributions to Opportunity International have helped to lift communties out of the debiliating cycle of poverty. 

India has the largest concentration of the poor globally, with over 840 million people living on less than $2 per day. Opportunity is achieving widespread impact in India through 14 institutions, including Growing Opportunity Finance, serving 1.4 million clients through 739 branches across 190 districts in 19 states.

  • Along with the challenge of extreme poverty, families in India are facing a health crisis. In response, Opportunity has partnered with several world-class partners to address India’s large-scale water, sanitation and hygiene crisis including Healing Fields Foundation, Water.org and MicroSave. This alliance is dedicated to improving access to safe drinking water, toilets and clean energy solutions.  
  • Dia Vikas launched Opportunity’s new Social Performance Management (SPM) program to measure client impact by tracking sustainable social change in the lives of clients. Dia Vikas is the only Indian microfinance practitioner with a proactive strategy to track social performance over time.
  • Currently in pilot stage, the SPM program tracks indicators around transformation for the families we serve including economic transformation over time, jobs created, increased access to water, sanitation and education, decreased vulnerability and increased empowerment. 


India has the largest concentration of the poor globally, but since October 2010, microfinance investors and lenders throughout India were forced to slow lending or step out. In December 2011, the Reserve Bank amended microfinance regulations to allow some microfinance practitioners with proven fair practices, like Opportunity, to reengage in the microfinance sector. Our Dia Vikas partners like Growing Opportunity Finance (GO Finance) are positioned to return to our former level of growth and impact in India.

  •  Now that Dia Vikas is part of the global Opportunity network, we serve families in 170 districts across 18 states in India, serving 1.34 million entrepreneurs.
  •  Dia Vikas is leading the implementation of a new Social Performance Management system that collects information on how products and services are affecting clients in the following categories: client outreach, range of services, client protection, client satisfaction and client transformation.
  •  Opportunity uses partnerships to ensure community-wide transformation. For example, through Dia Vikas, we are addressing water, sanitation and health issues alongside Healing Fields and Water.org.
  •  Opportunity’s Growing Opportunity Finance has over 40,000 loan clients. 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.opportunity.org
Project Leader:
Emily Engel
Oak Brook, Illinois 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.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Opportunity International that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.