As a result of extreme poverty, many of Opportunity's clients in Ghana are suffering because of lack of title over their own homes, and capital to improve their living conditions. “Clients try to use their business loans for their homes, and then their business suffers,” says Opportunity Ghana Loan Officer Sylvia Danso Abeam. “It stretches their finances too much. And if they don’t have a good house to live in, they don’t have the security they need in order to manage their businesses well. The two go hand in hand.”
Now a $1.2 million grant from USAID is enabling Opportunity International to promote property rights and pilot a home improvement loan program for clients in Ghana. Working with International Land Systems, Opportunity is putting together “property folios” so that clients can prove they have secure land tenure, and won’t have it taken away. The property folios consist of land surveys, field data collection, and community confirmation of property rights. During the start-up phase, target clients are members of established Trust Groups or proven individual loan clients. “Our hope is that, by working with the Ghanaian government, our clients will eventually be able to get formal title to their land,” says Makonen Getu, Opportunity vice president, international business development, who oversees the program. “As the project ramps up, we anticipate marketing the land titling and the housing products jointly.”
Our clients will receive construction technical assistance from Habitat for Humanity, a sub-recipient on the USAID-funded project, who also helped Opportunity with market research and product development. More than 40 families have already received housing loans to improve their existing structures or to add rooms.
(Impact Newsletter, Spring 2011)