Updates from Opportunity Colombia
Although new lending is temporarily on hold which has reduced the number of active clients with loans and the lending portfolio, you are funding activities that benefit clients, their families and the community including transformation.
Increasing focus on holistic transformation. Whereas in the past the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) partners of Opportunity International implemented both the microfinance and the transformational aspects of the work, in 2012 we will see the evolution of a separate NGO body implementing the transformation programs alongside the finance institution. This organization will integrate the existing transformation activities offered by Opportunity’s banks to complement the financial services.
From the clients’ perspective, Opportunity will retain its identity as an organization committed to holistic support, business training, spiritual development and care for the whole person. From a structural perspective, there will be an efficient and professional relationship between a finance provider and a support NGO. The transformation staff will develop an array of programs, including: staff and client training, outreach to vulnerable groups (youth, disabled persons, and displaced persons), strategic alliance building with local organizations and community groups, and much more.
Empowering youth through experiential training. Now in its second year of operation, the Colombia Youth Entrepreneurship program is achieving remarkable success as it trains and empowers a motivated group of 440 of tomorrow’s leaders. A noteworthy example of what we accomplished with your investment in 2011 includes the expansion of the program footprint to include the cities of Sincelejo and Barranquilla in addition to the cities of Bogotá, Cartagena and Magangue. Participating youth in these regions have finalized training, developed profitable trial group businesses and are utilizing business management and entrepreneurial skills to prepare individual business plans.
In the fall of 2011 Opportunity collaborated with Compassion International to organize a “Market Day,” to provide 48 youth a venue to sell their products. The young entrepreneurs unanimously agreed the event was a success and they enjoyed the chance to exhibit their technical skills while selling handcrafted products valuing $1,225.
Improving health and quality of life. Opportunity Colombia has provided loans to 109 families for home improvement, through its Techo y Piso (Roof and Floor) and Cocinas y Baños (Kitchens and Bathrooms) initiatives. The loans, averaging $700, are repaid over one year and are used to make structural improvements to leaky roofs and wood or dirt floors. The program is having a tremendous impact on participating families, who report improved health and quality of life.