Transform Lives in Kenya with Microloans

by Opportunity International

Opportunity Kenya was established in 2006. The need for stable financial structures became increasingly apparent as the country faced violence and significant political unrest following the disputed presidential elections in December 2007. Opportunity quickly responded to this crisis by establishing the Kenya Emergency Fund, a $1 million fund that has helped our clients rebuild their lives.

Today, Opportunity operates through branches in the Western Province of Kenya, an impoverished area plagued by HIV/AIDS, and in the Nairobi area, where urban slums are home to millions who struggle to make ends meet. 

Over the past few years we have achieved our goals of offering a variety of loan products and training to enable clients living in poverty to transform their lives. Opportunity's Kenyan sites offer many products and services to help clients meet the challenges of building and running businesses sustainably. 

  • In 2012, we launched new client financial literacy training modules and partnered with Citi Foundation to launch a series of training DVDs covering personal and business growth topics.
  • Our local management team recently benefited from corporate governance and leadership training, and all staff participated in customer care training to ensure Opportunity International’s core values are embedded into the staff culture.
  • Opportunity successflly began piloting loan repayments using cell phones at the Kawangware branch in Nairobi in 2011. This service brings clients increased convenience, flexibility and security, and aims to increase security by eliminating the need for clients and loan officers to carry cash to Trust Group meetings.
  • According to USAID, nearly one million Kenyan children do not attend primary school, and only one quarter of the youth are enrolled in secondary school. Opportunity Kenya has developed and launched a pilot program for school fee loans that help parents fund their children’s education through assistance with educational expenses such as tuition, books and uniforms.

Thank you for all of your support for the thousands of Kenyan entreprenurs working their way out of poverty. The problem is larger than just one country. 24 out of 25 of the worlds poorest countries are in Africa. In order to have the largest impact on this region, we would like to combine this project into a broader "Banking on Africa, 7660" project. This project spans multiple countries including - GhanaKenyaRwandaTanzaniaThe Democratic Republic of CongoMalawiMozambiqueSouth Africa, and Uganda. This project has the same mission and vision of #6663 which is to provide access to financial solutions empowering people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.

If you have any questions about our work in Kenya and the rest of Africa or our decision to combine projects please email us at

Technology efficiently and cheaply brings financial services to people in remote or rural areas. It breaks through barriers throughout the developing world, where people are excluded from financial services because of illiteracy, expensive transportation and geographic isolation. With the support of our strategic partners, donors like you and our dedicated staff, Opportunity International leverages technology to help free people from the cycle of poverty. We utilize cell phone banking, satellite bank branches, ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) devices provide low-cost, secure banking to formerly excluded clients. We are establishing points of access within one kilometer (about two miles) of a client’s home or business. We are migrating to cloud-based systems and developing of a new generation of skilled IT leaders to continue these innovations.

So, why do we do this? Because technology solutions lower cost, increase efficiencies and security for clients.

Opportunity’s strategy is based on four foundational design principles that maximize technology to engage the poor in their own communities over the next three year:

1. Closer: Distribution channel within one kilometer of client’s home or business.

2. Wider: Cell phone banking and agent banking increase financial inclusion nation-wide.

3. Safer: Cashless banking makes clients less likely to lose money from theft and more likely to retain and earn interest on money saved. 

4. Cheaper: Our model removes costs at each point in the delivery chain and allows for re-engineering to utilize emerging technologies and customer feedback while reducing client costs.

In Kenya, Mobile Money Solutions (mobile phone banking and phone-enabled agency banking) are becoming more common to expanding businesses. Opportunity Kenya is implementing mobile money solutions, covering mobile phone banking, mobile enabling technologies for banking staff and ultimately, mobile payment services. This solution moves Opportunity’s banks and clients toward a cashless environment, providing low cost and secure banking to an entire tier of formerly disenfranchised clients. 

Felicitus in her shop
Felicitus in her shop

Felicitus Mmboge is one of the millions of Opportunity women clients who has used a small loan to seize a big opportunity, and achieve great change in her life, her family and her community.

Twenty years ago, at the age of 22, Felicitus left her struggling village in Western Kenya and took a job as a maid in Nairobi so she could send money back to her family. Each week, she put a little money aside until she had enough to buy a few beauty products to sell in the street. When her employer passed away, she received severance pay, which enabled her to rent a shop and start her own beauty product business. Soon thereafter, robbers broke in and stole everything. Luckily, she had money in her M-PESA account on her mobile phone so she could start her business again.

In 2010, Opportunity invested in Felicitus with a loan of $290 to buy stock for her shop. With your help, a second loan of $600 empowered her to offer more products and to purchase hens for a secondary income stream. Her husband works as a gardener and carpenter, but most of the family’s income is from her businesses.

Felicitus uses her cell phone as a bank, which saves her time and money on travel. She transfers money, pays for goods, accepts payments, and even receives and repays her Opportunity loans — all while still attending to her shop. “Because I can also save money on my phone, it means I don’t have as much cash in my house or business, so I’m not worried about having it stolen.”

With her increased earnings, Felicitus is able to pay school fees for her three children and an orphaned niece. “I am determined that all of my children get a good education,” she says. “I feel very blessed that I have been able to set up my own business.”

She adds, “I want to become a distributor to other beauty shops, and I feel this is now possible with Opportunity and the guidance of my loan officer, Annie Wanjero."

Faith Wangui
Faith Wangui

Opportunity’s Education Finance initiative makes it possible for school proprietors and families to increase children’s access to education through targeted loans to school owners and parents.

As the newest member of Opportunity’s Education Finance initiative, Opportunity Kenya developed and pilot launched school fee loans to help parents fund their children’s education. Opportunity’s Head of Education Finance, Nathan Byrd is working with Opportunity Kenya to refine its school proprietor loans designed to help private school owners them make critical improvements to their schools. With the official launch of Education Finance expected in November, Opportunity Kenya will introduce newly designed and improved products with enhanced features to meet proprietor and parents’ expressed needs as identified through focus groups.


Faith Wangui, pictured right, operates a school with an enrollment of 200 students. She started a school to meet a need in her community, equipped with an education background and a loan of $500. Over time she has invested additional loans to add classrooms for nursery through 8th grade. She has also added a kitchen to ensure the children get a meal each day. With a passion to educate the children she holds so dear, Faith follows her students very closely, personally visiting the home of any child who does not come to school to see if a doctor is needed. Striving to serve her community in a holistic way, she adds at least one orphan to her list of students who receive free tuition each year. Today, Faith is planning to use future Opportunity loans to add dormitories for students who would benefit from boarding at the school throughout the year.  


Opportunity Kenya CEO Lydia Njoroge
Opportunity Kenya CEO Lydia Njoroge

In Kenya, you are bringing training to hardworking entrepreneurs

 Under new leadership, more than 8,000 Kenyan Trust Group members are reaping the benefits of robust financial literacy training, support and mentoring along with access to new skills to manage their small businesses while vastly improving quality of life for their families and communities. During the first half of 2012, activity highlights for Opportunity Kenya include:  

  • Appointing Lydia Njoroge as new CEO in April 2012 – this was a well-deserved internal promotion.
  • Developing a School Fee loan to help families manage the costs associated with education.
  • Hiring a transformation manager in June to develop and launch a financial literacy training DVD series that was launched in August as a pilot program. 

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 Kenya, we can continue to invest in people like Jane Andisi, a determined entrepreneur who insists on being a respected business woman in what she calls a man’s business.  

Fabricating metal boxes is considered a man’s job in Kenya. A true entrepreneur, Jane Andisi is not intimidated; she uncovered a need in her community and answered the call. As the sole bread winner in her family, Jane came to Opportunity Kenya ten years ago when her husband became unable to work, seeking to grow her business and increase her income. Having missed the opportunity for an education herself, Jane was adamant that her children attend school and even university for some. Today, Jane’s business is thriving and her seven children are pursuing their education – an amazing achievement since she has had no formal education herself. She says, “This may be a man’s world and metal boxes may be a man’s business but I do not let that stop me from being a woman and mother who provides for her children.”

With Opportunity’s help, women like Jane 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. 

Thanks for all your continued support that makes this possible!

Opportunity client Jane Andisi
Opportunity client Jane Andisi



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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Dana Lunberry
Partner Relationship Specialist
Oak Brook, IL United States

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