Help Women in Rwanda Fight Against Poverty

by Opportunity International
Opportunity client like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi
Opportunity client like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi

Families mired in poverty are making the most of the opportunities you make possible, living their dream of having a different and better life. Because you invested in Opportunity Rwanda, we can continue to invest in people like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi as we expand deeper into rural areas like the community of Ntunga, where she lives and where the daily challenges associated with poverty hit the hardest.

 In the rural village of Ntunga, members of the close-knit and aptly named “Those Who Trust Each Other” Trust Group gather together to discuss business practices and to receive training. This weekly meeting has fostered a sense of community and teamwork among the hardworking group of entrepreneurs focused on putting food on the family table and getting the children into school. Alphonsine gratefully accepted the opportunity you placed in her path – she transformed your opportunity into a new and better life. She invested her first loan of $83 to buy salt and sugar to sell and as she increased her profit she used additional loans to diversify her product line to include soap and other necessities. With a growing customer base and business mentoring and training Alphonsine was on her way to profitability. With her increased income, Alphonsine did what we witness mothers do time and again. She invested in her family. Her family began to enjoy better nutrition and a concrete slab in a home that until recently had compacted dirt floors.Today, because of the opportunities you created, the Mukamuhizi family has electricity in their home. “I am proud, I have worked hard and my family is better for it.” With Opportunity’s help, parents like Alphonsine are able to capitalize on their skills with newfound confidence, and begin to take steps up the rungs of the economic ladder, achieving tangible gains for the whole family. 

Opportunity client like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi
Opportunity client like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi


Approximately 70% of Africans work in agriculture and these households are some of the poorest in the world. Opportunity found that farmers in Africa are producing at only 40% of their potential because they cannot access the needed best-practice information, financing and markets. With your help we work with small-scale farmers in Rwanda to adopt more productive agriculture practices, link up with buyers and extension service providers, and access inputs to grow more food.

Opportunity spent 2010 and 2011 working with small-scale farmers and learning from them which financial tools and services they need to succeed. In 2012, Opportunity’s Agriculture Finance team aims to bring services closer to clients using mobile phone banking. This gives clients access to their funds from their own rural village, and uses GPS to capture household data and map out farm plots that show how to get the best return from their land.   

The Agriculture Finance program has grown tremendously from its start nearly five years ago.

  • Crops funded in Rwanda now include:  potato, rice, maize, cassava.
  • Savings are very important for farming families who must make their harvest income last all year. At year-end, 461,444 rural families across Africa had an Opportunity savings account, up 34% from 2010.


Empowering Women to Save

Opportunity International realizes that a key part of empowering women to fight poverty lies in providing them with tools to save their money.

In 2008, Opportunity International embarked on its most ambitious effort to date, a $123.6 million Banking
on Africa campaign to expand financial services for poor families throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Rwanda. With your partnership, we celebrate the successful completion of the fundraising efforts and we press on toward Banking on Africa’s goal: reaching 5 million clients in Africa by 2015 to impact 30 million people.

In Rwanda, deposit clients have increased by over 65% to 75,029 by the end of 2011. Loan clients have increased from 30,381 in 2010 to 40,662 in 2011.

Your support is helping women save for their future, and protect the dreams of themselves and their children.

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. 

In the last decade, Opportunity International embarked on an agricultural finance and rural savings program to spur economic activity and provide enduring resources for smallholder farmers and other rural clients in Rwanda.

Opportunity’s approach is to help farmers move from subsistence growing to cash crop production with agriculture-specific loans, savings accounts, crop insurance, effective fertilizers, drought-resistant seeds and technical assistance. Agricultural loan officers guide farmers through the distribution process, providing linkages to agricultural markets.

By achieving their potential, farmers will be able to feed their families and become major food suppliers to the growing global population.

Teddy Namagembe (pictured attached) works on her coffee farm from 7 a.m. to sunset each day to support her four children. She used to sell her coffee beans before they were ripe to make ends meet. As an agricultural finance and savings client with Opportunity Uganda, she can now wait for the beans to ripen fully and sell them at a greater profit.


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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Emily Engel
Oakbrook, 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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