Here is how Opportunity International's financial services help women change their future and the future of their families and communities.
Francine Mukeshimana, a widow and mother of five young children, found herself unable to support her family. To make matters worse her own health was failing and doctors would not treat her since she could not pay for her late husband’s bills. Francine began selling bananas in the village center after her husband died but she was not able to make ends meet. Things started looking up when a neighbor told her about Opportunity.
She joined an Opportunity Rwanda Trust Group and used her first loan of $37 to purchase bananas in bulk and sell them to local schools and in the market. Her son, who is a teenager, helps her by carrying a basket of bananas on his head to the market three times a week while she delivers to the schools.
Currently on her second loan, this one for $60, Francine is expanding her business by adding a banana beverage, a local favorite, to her product line. Measuring the impact of the Opportunity loans for this family is quite easy – Francine shows off her family health insurance cards to any passerby willing to look. In addition to purchasing health insurance, she saves for school fees and invested in a pig. She also learned to harvest the coffee trees her husband left untouched for a long period of time due to his illness.
Francine explains that her Trust Group members and loan officer are very important to her. She says, “before I was lonely and a disgrace, today I have friends who are like my family.” She says her loan officer trains them using Biblically-based principles to help her make sound business decisions. They start each weekly meeting offering each other prayer.
She hopes to one day purchase a cargo coffee bike so her son can easily transport the bananas and the coffee cherries. But for now, Francine says she is happy with all of her blessings.