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Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia

by Opportunity International
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Empower Entrepreneurs Throughout Colombia
Trust Group in Colombia
Trust Group in Colombia

Proposed Project to Establish Savings & Loans Groups in Bogotá

Opportunity aims to launch Savings & Loans Groups in Bogota, focusing specifically on reaching and serving displaced families and victims. Activities over the next two years include:

  1. Group Formation: Opportunity will meet with local community members and help them form groups of 10-15 members. Usually, groups are made up of neighbors who already know and trust each other. Groups are provided with a lock box and choose leaders to manage the group’s fund. Over two years, Opportunity aims to form a total of 40 groups, reaching 520 total families.
  2. Training: Every other week for eight months, groups will meet to receive training to build their skills and confidence in managing finances, as well as in strengthening interpersonal relationships. Members will also receive ongoing support and guidance in rebuilding their lives after conflict. Over time, group members learn how to effectively manage and participate in their savings group, how to invest savings in the group to earn dividends at the end of the savings cycle, and how to continue growing their income after the saving cycle concludes.
  3. Lending: During the first six weeks after groups are established, members will contribute “shares” (usually increments of $2 or $3) to the group’s collective fund. After six weeks, the group will use the fund to make informal loans to individual group members and sets an agreed-upon interest rate and repayment periods.
  4. Earning: As loans are repaid with interest, the group’s total fund grows. After eight months, the group concludes its cycle and distributes the bigger fund among its members according to how many “shares” each member had invested in the fund.
  5. Recycling: With their increased savings, members can choose to start a new Savings & Loans cycle with their group, repeating the process to continue earning interest from their savings. Groups may also invite new members to help more of their neighbors leverage their savings to earn income. Other members, with improved financial skills and larger savings, may choose to open their first bank account with a financial institution, continuing their journeys toward economic empowerment.

Families throughout Bogota are dreaming of a better future for their children–and need your support to start their journeys out of poverty. With a gift to Opportunity Colombia, you can help launch this important project, and equip families displaced by violence with the tools they need to grow their incomes, send their children to school and transform their futures. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request!


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Vitalia Mosquera Florez - Entrepreneur in Colombia
Vitalia Mosquera Florez - Entrepreneur in Colombia

In Colombia, today’s generation of children is the first generation in more than 50 years with the chance to grow up in a country at peace. Following the landmark peace accord struck between the Colombian government and rebel groups in 2016, communities previously burdened with civil strife and violence are working to build more stable futures for their children. All they need is an opportunity. By providing access to financial services and training, Opportunity is empowering local entrepreneurs to grow businesses and schools, create jobs, and strengthen their communities for the next generation.

  • More entrepreneurs are growing sustainable businesses. More than 7,000 clients are using loans to expand their microbusinesses, and nearly 50,000 families are saving.
  • More than 100 clients are trained every month in financial literacy. The transformation team recently updated our seven-module training series based on clients’ expressed needs from data collected through client surveys.
  • More than 200 schools are investing Opportunity School Improvement loans to enhance education quality for about 55,000 children through better infrastructure, like new classrooms and gender-separated bathrooms.

One of the incredible entrepreneurs setting the path for a future free from poverty is Vitalia (pictured above). She learned to prepare empanadas from her mother when she was a young girl. As an adult, she turned this skill into a business, selling fried treats to help support her family. She longed to grow the business and expand her restaurant, but she didn’t have the resources. After learning about Opportunity, Vitalia was able to secure a loan and purchase ingredients and supplies in bulk, increasing the number of empanadas she was able to prepare and sell each day. Now her shop is one of the most popular spots on the street! When she speaks about why she works so hard, she says, “I’m working for my son. So that he can have a great future.”

With access to loans, savings, and training, entrepreneurs like Vitalia will gain the resources they need to start and grow small businesses and expand economic opportunities in communities where few job opportunities exist. Your support helps invest in the potential of mothers, fathers, and other hardworking entrepreneurs to drive the changes they want to see in their lives, and throughout their communities. Thank you for partnering with Colombian families!


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In Colombia, Opportunity’s local entity, AGAPE, helps families access loans and savings from our local financial institution partner and has developed transformative training materials and programs to help families wisely and sustainably grow their businesses, gain financial security, improve their living conditions, and lift their families out of poverty. Key priorities over the next year include:

Empower 1,400 entrepreneurs to start or grow small businesses
Opportunity Colombia works with Savings and Loans Groups to build the capacity of entrepreneurs to launch or grow small businesses successfully. Savings and Loans Groups offer a support network for entrepreneurs, who pool their savings together to form an informal loan fund for group members.  Often, Savings and Loans Groups are made up of entrepreneurs at the very bottom of the economic ladder who may not have an existing business and would benefit from a smaller, informal loan to get their businesses started. Opportunity Colombia works within these groups to help entrepreneurs access the capital they need while providing hands-on training in important topics including financial literacy, business management and improving family dynamics.

Update and develop new financial training modules to better support underserved groups
To ensure clients receive effective, transformative training, AGAPE develops training materials and programs to address our clients’ specific needs. AGAPE’s workshops, such as Savings Awareness Training for Clients and Leadership Training for Group Leaders, and other educational materials have been rated by clients very positively and useful in improving skills. Opportunity plans to enhance and develop new financial training tools to continue providing the best possible education to our clients.

Equip mothers in violence-affected communities to lift their families out of poverty
Opportunity expanded our outreach to two new areas in ColombiaCaucasia and Carmen de Bolívarboth of which are rural areas that have been affected by violence. Opportunity aims to deepen trainings and establish Savings and Loans groups for entrepreneurs in these areas. At this critical point in Colombia’s history, investment in rural areas like Caucasia and Carmen de Bolívar will significantly help shift rural economies into the formal sector, opening up possibilities for women and youth to use their skills productively, and launch and operate businesses that expand job opportunities for others in their communities.

Increase access to quality schools for 6,000 students
In Colombia, education entrepreneurs are building low-cost, local private schools to help serve the need for better education in their communities. These schools offer parents an alternative choice to low-quality public schools and, because they are operated by socially-focused entrepreneurs, the schools can quickly grow and respond to the needs of parents in their communities. Opportunity works with school leaders to help them invest School Improvement Loans in areas such as building new classrooms, purchasing buses, adding water and sanitation facilities, or hiring more staff and teachers. School leaders can also participate in Opportunity’s Education Quality program by joining a School Cluster, which is a group of schools that regularly meet to receive training and share best practices. Through clusters, school leaders gain important insights to develop better curriculum, train high-quality teachers, and effectively implement improvements in the quality of their school over time.  Through this approach, school leaders can build, grow, and improve their own high-quality schools, create jobs in the community for staff and teachers, and help students to learn the skills they need to build more productive futures for themselves and their families.


This year is critical for investing in the potential of entrepreneurs in Colombia. With access to loans, savings, and training, entrepreneurs will gain the resources they need to start and grow small businesses and expand economic opportunities in communities where few job opportunities exist. Your support will help invest in the potential of mothers, fathers and other hardworking entrepreneurs to drive the changes they want to see in their lives, and throughout their communities.


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Meet Theresa! For years, Teresa and her husband have earned a living collecting and sorting garbage to support their five kids. When Teresa was offered the chance to learn to build her own recycling cart, she used an Opportunity loan to build it and to purchase materials in bulk, increasing her productivity and her income. Now, she saves every day to achieve her dream of opening a restaurant. According to Teresa, "My life dream is to open a restaurant where my whole family can work together. I am thankful for the opportunities I have received. I am just getting started."

Moving families out of poverty once and for all. Opportunity's partner in Colombia, AGAPE, is tackling the challenges that threaten to trap families in poverty. They do this by providing a robust package of financial and non-financial services to create transformational opportunities that empower entrepreneurial women and men as they work their way out of poverty. With support and training, clients grow their businesses, gain financial security, and improve their living conditions. AGAPE is a vehicle for change in the realms of leadership, home improvement, education, and community projects.

Training and mentoring for lasting change. To ensure clients receive effective, transformative growth opportunities, AGAPE develops curriculum and programs designed to address their specific, expressed needs. AGAPE offers workshops such as savings awareness training for Trust Group clients and leadership training for Trust Group leaders. AGAPE also provides training in essential client protection principles, such as how to protect personal banking information and how to use available resources to resolve issues with loan repayments or account balances.

So far this year, AGAPE has trained 658 loan clients. Currently, significant budget constraints pose difficulties in effectively reaching areas where training is needed, however, AGAPE holds fast to the goal of expanding trainings in Cartagena and Bogota, key areas in need of client support.

AGAPE loan officers desire to respond to God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. By caring for Opportunity clients through their work, loan officers act as a physical embodiment of Christ's love.

Providing clients with excellent service and relevant, high-impact products. Opportunity Colombia implements Social Performance Management to ensure excellent client service and protection by aligning products, processes, operations, and systems to the organization's mission and to clients' expressed needs. Currently, the bank is undertaking a review of their data collection system to identify options to increase accuracy and analysis of the client information collected.

Constructing or improving homes to keep families healthier and safer. Opportunity Colombia continues to expand its home improvement loan program, House of My Dreams, which serves families in Bogota, Cartagena, Sincelejo, Barranquilla, Magangue, and Santa Marta. As of June 30, 2018, Opportunity Colombia has disbursed 1,048 home improvement loans since the start of the program.

AGAPE delivers training resources and a robust support plan that complement the bank's home improvement loans, ensuring Colombia's poorest populations can make improvements, including renovations to foundations, walls, doors, windows, kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, and floors. AGAPE trains loan officers, assesses client ability to take on additional credit and then provides technical assistance throughout the construction process. AGAPE also provides a 10-booklet series covering home improvement projects, equipping clients to become more knowledgeable about financing and planning home improvements.


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Opportunity International has expanded economic opportunities for disadvantaged female entrepreneurs living in rural, violence-affected communities in Colombia. Through your support, we expanded financial inclusion for women, helped more children from impoverished families go to school, and expanded client trainings and financial services to increase their incomes and create more jobs. We achieved this through:

  1. Expanding outreach to women entrepreneurs living in violence-affected areas. While still engaging impoverished working families in Colombia, we have reached further down the economic ladder to engage women living in impoverished, violence-affected communities, introducing them to the most basic concepts of financial literacy and income-generating businesses.
  2. Empowering women entrepreneurs as job creators in marginalized communities. You have provided moms with the tools and skills they need to reach their potential to support their families and become leaders and job creators within their communities.
  3. Expanding access to education for girls. Together, we built the capacity of entrepreneurs who have launched or expanded quality schools that can change the future for children, especially girls, along with their families and entire communities.

Expanding access to economic and educational opportunities has proven vitally important for low-income Colombian women entrepreneurs and their children. The positive impact of this project has rippled beyond entrepreneurs and school proprietors to build stronger communities across the country. Through your generosity, Opportunity has provided critical support, training, and economic opportunities to hardworking Colombian entrepreneurs and school proprietors.

 During the first six months of 2018:

  • We opened two new branches in rural, violence-affected Colombian communities and began serving women with the financial resources and support they need to succeed.
  • Opportunity Colombia number of entrepreneurs with loans grew by 19% from 6,180 to 7,348. The increased outreach is attributed in part to the two new branches.
  • We trained 658 entrepreneur clients. Including family members, 3,290 people have been positively impacted as clients grow thriving businesses that increase household income and create jobs for neighbors.
  • We updated our 7-module training series for both savings groups and Trust Groups based on their expressed needs from data collected through our Social Performance Management tool and client surveys.
  • 416 Colombian schools are investing Opportunity School Improvement loans, enhancing education quality for about 104,000 children through improved infrastructure like better classrooms and gender-separated bathrooms.
  • Colombian parents are using 428 Opportunity School Fee loans to cover the education costs of about 1,300 kids.
  • Ten youth were accessing College/Vocational loans to pay for continuing education.
  • Opportunity Colombia dramatically increased their outreach by developing and launching an education product that funds community moms who start preschools in their homes. The pre-schools are growing and creating jobs for other moms in the neighborhood.


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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, IL United States

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