Creating Momentum
with the World's Entrepreneurs

2013 Annual Report

We are courageous
We are determined

We believe in the power to transform our lives.

We are hopeful

We see possibility and opportunity.

We are hopeful

We see possibility and opportunity.

We are driven

We are making an impact on our families and communities.

We are driven

We are making an impact on our families and communities.

We are compassionate

We are faithful – loving and serving those around us.

We are compassionate

We are faithful – loving and serving those around us.

We are compassionate

We are faithful – loving and serving those around us.

We are the world's entrepreneurs

We are the future.

Lalithamma
Lalithamma
India
Conchita
Conchita
Philippines
Rubela
Rubela
India
Beesamma
Beesamma
India
Freiman
Freiman
Colombia
Suzie
Suzie
Uganda
Solange
Solange
Rwanda
Modeste
Modeste
Rwanda
Mercy
Mercy
Ghana
Eunice
Eunice
Kenya
Luz
Luz
Colombia
Gladis
Gladis
Colombia

Together, we create momentum

It is fitting that we celebrate creating momentum with our clients at this exciting juncture in Opportunity’s history. I am truly grateful to all who supported Opportunity’s growth, innovation and impact in 2013. Together, we strengthened our organization and expanded the possibilities for how we can serve clients going forward...

Vicki Escarra
Global Chief Executive Officer
Opportunity International

Our Mission

By providing financial solutions and training, we empower people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.

Our Vision

Our vision is a world in which all people have the opportunity to achieve a life free from poverty, with dignity and purpose.

Our Motivation

We respond to Jesus Christ’s call to love and serve the poor. We seek to emulate the Good Samaritan, whose compassion crossed ethnic groups and religions. We serve all people regardless of race, faith, ethnicity and gender.

Our Opportunity Model

Opportunity + Donors + Entrepreneurs

Opportunity provides an unprecedented and powerful combination of access to banking, support of training and Trust Groups, and the intangible sharing of faith and hope in each individual’s potential. Our donors, clients and staff work together to ignite momentum and create lasting global change. Together we transform lives by creating jobs, securing families and fueling economies.

Our model has a powerful multiplier effect

Every $1 invested in Opportunity becomes $6 at work over five years. Our banks leverage donations to increase available loan funds, which clients repay and we reinvest back into more entrepreneurs.

Opportunity

We leverage our team, technology and local partnerships to provide access to the greatest resources for breaking free from poverty through human and financial capital.

We employ local staff who facilitate access to banking services and provide training in financial literacy, business management and personal wellbeing.

We engage community partners who provide training and expertise in key sectors such as agriculture and education.

We operate banks that deliver financial education and a full range of financial services, including loans, savings and insurance.

Donors

Our supporters offer vital financial capital, which is leveraged to achieve maximum impact in under-resourced communities.

Entrepreneurs

91 percent of our loans are provided to women entrepreneurs.

Our clients work and contribute to their communities’ education, agriculture and health industries in the most impoverished and remote regions of the world.

We scale opportunity to create jobs and small businesses that increase employment, grow local economies and lift communities.

Opportunity Global Network Map

We provide client services in 22 countries and have support members in 8 countries.

  • Africa
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Asia
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Europe
  • Macedonia
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Latin America
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Peru
  • Support Members
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Building Momentum from Within

Empowering the world’s poor to transform their lives is a calling that drives us every day; not only to do more, but also to do better by creating meaningful impact around the world. As a global organization working in 30 countries, we see the tremendous power our holistic approach can have across all dimensions of our clients’ lives. But we know there is always more to do—which is why in 2013 we laid the groundwork in two key areas to take our work to the next level.

Becoming a unified global entity

To streamline our operations, we took significant strides this year toward becoming a new global entity with a unified brand—known as Opportunity—which will become the home of the management team for our worldwide organization. While we have long functioned as a global network of international partner organizations, we realize the importance of becoming a more unified, single entity to continue to be successful for decades to come. Though this internal shift and new structure will be invisible to our donors and clients, it will allow us to achieve greater efficiencies that help build momentum toward greater impact around the world.

Social Performance Management

Because we are committed to helping clients transform all areas of their lives, this year we challenged ourselves to find new ways to monitor our social goals. We globally launched Social Performance Management (SPM), which facilitates the collection of consistent social data throughout our network. By helping Opportunity International and all of our partners better understand, improve and reflect upon our performance and practices, SPM will help us move forward as a stronger and more accountable organization. Most important, it will help us improve services for our clients so that they can live full and prosperous lives.

In 2013, we surveyed more than 30,000 clients, tracking a range of social data such as income levels, social connectedness, compassion toward community and access to education and health services. This monitoring of progress and practices will inform all aspects of microfinance, from strategic decision making to product design and delivery. With our partners around the world, we will use our new SPM approach to ensure we continue to reach those in need and deliver the products and services they require to transform their lives.

Building Momentum

Entrepreneurial Communities

We know that a loan can help an entrepreneur turn a vision into a thriving business. This starts a cycle of prosperity for the broader community as these once-impoverished clients begin hiring their neighbors. To help business leaders succeed, we provide training through Trust Groups to give them lifelong skills.

Imirty Devi

Business Entrepreneur
India

When Imirty Devi learned that children in a local hospital were often abandoned by their parents, she was inspired to help. She took three orphans into her home to join her own four children. To care for her new, extended family, she knew she needed extra income.

As she considered starting a business, she found it impossible to secure a loan. Then she discovered a local Opportunity International institution, which gave her a series of loans that set her on the path she had envisioned for herself. With her first loan, she started a candle-making business. With additional loans, her business grew and she nearly doubled her monthly income.

She was able to take her success to an even higher level by completing the yearlong Community Health Facilitator training offered by Opportunity India. This unique training empowered her to create widespread change. She is now a community leader, teaching health education, volunteering and facilitating group meetings. With help from Opportunity, Imirty’s compassion and determination blossomed into something truly transformative for herself and the community.

2013 Global Impact

2.9M
loan clients
98%
loan repayment rate
$605M
loan portfolio
1.1M
jobs created or supported in 2013
12.5M
jobs created or supported since our start

Funding Social Sectors: Moving Beyond Traditional Microfinance

We know microfinance is about more than financial products—it is a platform to deliver services that allow clients to transform other areas of their lives. In India, Opportunity is working with the Healing Fields Foundation to improve health standards across whole communities.

The partnership between the foundation and Opportunity India is implementing a multifaceted healthcare program that combines health financing, health education and job creation. One core program trains local women to be Community Health Facilitators so they can educate other community women about personal health and hygiene, distribute health care supplies and identify women who need loans to expand their businesses. During the training, women also learn about microenterprise and can take out a loan to start a health-related business.

With one leader able to educate more than 200 households, the exponential effect of this one-of-a-kind training is remarkable. To date, we’ve trained 1,203 Community Health Facilitators who have reached more than 126,000 families. This kind of investment ultimately strengthens community resilience so that change is lasting and sustainable.

As a result of Insight Trips, I’ve seen just as many smart, driven and innovative entrepreneurs in the developing world as I have in our technology communities here in the U.S. The only difference in Opportunity entrepreneurs is their lack of capital. I give thanks that we have been able to help such inspiring and devoted clients. I am always amazed by what they can accomplish with the right support and by the grace of God.

Tom Skelton, Opportunity Ambassador
Re-building Momentum

Resilient Communities

Life is unpredictable – but for those living in poverty, it can be nearly impossible to recover from unexpected and devastating events. In addition to loans, our savings accounts and insurance products offer clients the vital security they need to plan for the future or rebuild their lives after tragedy.

Rebecca Garcia

Business Entrepreneur
Philippines

Rebecca Garcia has been a longtime member of the Opportunity International family. A client for 20 years, she took out several loans to create and grow a small business to sell street food. This successful enterprise gave her the means to put her three children through college and help them build better lives.

But when Typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013, Rebecca suffered the greatest possible tragedy. Her mother and daughter were swept away by the storm’s powerful wind and water. Her home was destroyed, forcing her to move into a tent that she still lives in today. Despite these unthinkable losses, Rebecca is helping to rebuild her community. Armed with new business loans and access to insurance to protect herself from future losses, she is finding a way not only to move forward and support her own sons, but also to assist many of the children orphaned by the storm. Determined, faithful and strong, she is a pillar of her community in the wake of this terrible disaster.

2013 Global Impact

1.4M
savings clients
$119
average savings balance
$173M
value of deposits
3.3M
insurance clients

Instilling Hope and Resilience

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, destroying homes and businesses and affecting more than 13 million people. Thousands of Opportunity clients lost their loved ones, houses and businesses. Grieving and left with nothing, they are persevering, rebuilding with little more than the clothes on their backs.

A glimmer of hope shines for resourceful Opportunity clients who can rely on insurance and savings in the face of unimaginable tragedy. At the end of 2013, 58,000 of our Filipino clients had a formal savings account with local Opportunity banks. Opportunity branches in Tacloban and Ormoc were some of the first banks in the region to reopen after the typhoon—giving clients access to their savings only two weeks after the storm struck.

Additionally, those with insurance received payouts that protected them from complete destruction and gave them a chance to start over. They also benefited from the Philippines Rebuilding Fund, which jumpstarted recovery by giving survivors funding and support to reconstruct their homes, restart their businesses and restore their livelihoods. Because many emergency relief organizations do not have long-term resources, Opportunity responds with emergency loans and assistance that help families get back on their feet.

The arduous rebuilding process in the Philippines has only begun, but the progress so far signals a brighter day in the future when families, businesses and communities thrive in this island nation once again

We always come home inspired from Opportunity trips. We have formed relationships with families who now have tragically lost businesses, homes and even family members. These are wonderful people whose faith and resilience are amazing, but whose resources are limited beyond what we can imagine. They need and deserve our support.

Helen, Gordon and Bruce Smith, Opportunity Supporters
Initiating Momentum

Education

It’s a horrible statistic: more than 67 million children worldwide are not in school. Education changes the trajectory of lives – initiating a positive cycle of momentum that helps pull people out of poverty. That’s why we are determined to help more children discover their talents through schooling.

Franklyn Madsen

Education Entrepreneur
Ghana

No one knows better than Franklyn Madsen that the path to your dream is often full of obstacles. Feeling a calling to build a school in her home country of Ghana, she waited for years, patiently raising funds while living in Denmark with her husband. Finally, in 2010, she returned home and established the Tower of David Academy with five students. By 2012, the school’s enrollment had grown to 120 students.

But when a powerful storm destroyed the roof and two classrooms, Franklyn faced a crisis. She had no funds to rebuild and had previously been denied a loan by a local bank, which had told her that her school was too small. Her hope was restored when she learned about Opportunity International. She took out a School Improvement Loan to replace the roof and classrooms and purchase desks and computers. To date, she has used a total of four Opportunity loans to fuel the growth of the school and build additional classrooms and toilet facilities. With nine classrooms and 170 students today, Franklyn continues to think big: she hopes to eventually offer classes for students through eighth grade. By following her faith and convictions, Franklyn is opening up worlds of possibility and prosperity for these children.

2013 Global Impact

880
school improvement loans
219,500
students served by school improvement loans
6,200
school fee loans
19,200
students served by school fee loans

Insuring Educational Futures

Research shows that education is not only a proven path out of poverty, but also improves life expectancy, boosts income, reduces child marriages and decreases birth rates. Unfortunately, a primary reason many children in developing countries do not complete school and instead become trapped in poverty is a parent’s death or permanent disablement.

To protect a child’s future in such circumstances, Opportunity launched the EduSave program, which provides free insurance that covers school fees in the event of the death or disability of a parent or guardian. Usually a parent only needs a savings balance of $25 to qualify. The more parents save for the future, the higher the EduSave benefit grows. Currently, more than 100,000 clients qualify and benefit from EduSave accounts in Malawi, Ghana and Uganda—protecting the educational futures of more than 313,000 children.

This innovative program gives children the best possible chance of staying in school, especially when coupled with School Fee Loans that help parents afford a quality education for their children. By the time students are ready for university and vocational school, they can opt for a Tertiary School Loan to maximize their educational opportunities—creating a beneficial ripple effect that will improve the circumstances of generations to come.

Opportunity has listened to its school proprietors and parents since we first began the education finance pilot program. Through time we’ve found a formula that works – one that strengthens the developing world’s education by marrying the proven strategies of microfinance with the crucial work happening within school walls. Now that we’re replicating our education finance program, I’m filled with wonder that we can make such a difference, and so sustainably, in thousands of young lives—and with continued efforts, in millions.

Janelle Lassonde, Education Finance Campaign Chair
Cultivating Momentum

Agriculture

When surrounded by hunger and poverty, progress is impossible. Many smallholder farmers lack the financial access and agricultural training to improve the quality of their harvests and earn sufficient income. We cultivate momentum by equipping farmers with the banking services and skills to boost crop yields, reduce hunger and increase the global food supply.

Aaron Nkizinkiko

Smallholder farming Entrepreneur
Rwanda

Aaron Nkizinkiko had always worked hard trying to cultivate corn on his one-acre plot of land. Yet he struggled to produce enough to even feed his family. Times were often hard as his family slept on the ground in their grass home, unable to afford medical care and school fees.

On his own and lacking agricultural knowledge, Aaron was trapped. The turning point in his life came when he joined an Opportunity Trust Group. Trust Group members guarantee each other’s loans, creating a safety net for one another. But it was the training on effective farming practices that he received which produced a holistic transformation in his life. Today, Aaron has produced enough to feed his family and also sell in the markets. Now he can pay his children’s school and medical costs.

The unique power of Trust Groups comes from the shared sense of purpose and solidarity among members that ultimately generates success across the community. Aaron’s Trust Group has taken this a step further by taking out loans on behalf of local widows who also farm. Though they are not clients, the widows are treated as valuable members and participate in Trust Group activities—a true demonstration of how Opportunity communities love and serve one another.

2013 Global Impact

75,000
agricultural loans
$20.4M
value of agricultural loans
704,000
savings accounts in rural areas

Measuring the Success of a Bold Experiment

The majority of those living in extreme poverty are rural, smallholder farmers. Traditional banks and microfinance institutions often avoid lending to smallholder farmers because of the many risks. That is why Opportunity pioneered an agriculture finance approach that combines access to financial services with linkages to local suppliers, extension service providers and market buyers who provide a fair price for crops.

With support from The MasterCard Foundation and other strategic partners, we conducted extensive research in 2013 that demonstrated that our agriculture finance model is indeed changing thousands of lives. The findings of the study indicate that Opportunity farmers are better equipped than others in their community—they have increased their crop yields, productivity and incomes. Client farmers hired more farm labor, creating jobs in their communities, and reported improved household access to food, education and health care.

Inspired by these life-changing results in five countries, we are expanding this powerful model to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nothing can be compared to the experience of witnessing clients overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to work toward success. If we work collaboratively with Opportunity, volunteers, key companies and global experts, we can make it so that these farmer families no longer have a hunger season. Many clients are unjustly shut out of society, treated differently and told that they are less valuable than others. The clients that I’ve met are learning to rise above their circumstances and seeing that they do belong to a community. It’s a miracle.

Muffy MacMillan, Agriculture Finance Campaign Chair
Sustaining Momentum

Technology & Leadership

Lasting change is best achieved when there are community leaders to sustain it and technology to drive it. Yet, in many developing countries – especially in remote areas – there aren’t enough people trained in finance. Opportunity offers in-house training to develop local leaders who are dedicated to serving their communities. We also improve access to financial services through innovative technologies that can reach clients wherever they are.

Katia Perez

Supervisor
Colombia

Katia remembers the struggles her family faced in the barrios of Barranquilla, Colombia and how hard her parents worked to give their four children a better life. Though they first came to the city empty-handed, she says, “our family was very united…we put God first. This is what was most important.” Katia’s parents found jobs and were eventually able to buy a home and send their children to college.

That is where Katia learned about Opportunity’s loan officer training. Her training gave her solid financial skills and also helped her develop as a leader. For the last 13 years, she has had multiple opportunities to further develop her skills through Opportunity. Self-sufficient and socially connected to the community, she completed her university degree and was promoted to a supervisory role overseeing 10 loan officers.

Now Katia derives her greatest satisfaction from seeing her clients experience transformation. She feels blessed to have been able to help people like Rosa, who used a special Opportunity loan to add a floor and a roof to her house. As a respected and admired leader, Katia plays an integral role sustaining the momentum that ultimately brings lasting, positive change to her community. “I can look in the mirror and see all the changes I’ve made personally and socially,” she says. “And I am proud that others see me as a role model in my community.”

2013 Global Impact

128,000
clients using mobile money
17,500
global employees
99%
loan officers who are nationals
2.6M
clients receiving financial, literacy, health & leadership training

Changing the face of financial services delivery

Opportunity’s mobile-phone based banking services have already changed the lives of the “unbanked” – those who lack access to banking services either because they are too poor or live in remote regions. Our clients in Uganda, for example, are embracing this technology: they completed mobile money transactions valued at more than $2 million between April and December 2013 alone.

Opportunity took the model a step further by launching a branchless banking pilot in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). SAGCOT is one of Africa’s most impoverished but high-potential farming regions. The branchless strategy requires no bank branch; instead, farmers receive loans or make deposits through their mobile phone or by working with loan officers that have geo-enabled tablet computers. To date, farmers here have received loans via mobile money for seeds, fertilizer and labor. With this transformational technology, even those in the most rural regions can have access to life-saving financial services.

When visiting countries where we work, I see firsthand why our clients are the reason we do what we do. We’re able to run programs in diverse and remote areas of the world only because we have local staff on the ground and because we’re aggressively harnessing technology like cell-phone banking. I really think that Opportunity International can teach America’s progressive industry leaders important lessons about how to do business and do good things.

John Edwardson, Technology Advisory Council

Partners Building Momentum

Our invaluable corporate and institutional partners continually demonstrate their commitment to innovation, excellence and results as we collaborate to help marginalized people transform their lives. Support from leading companies, charitable foundations and public institutions helps drive positive change in some of the world’s most remote and underserved communities. From deploying pioneering technologies to financing agriculture and education to developing strong leaders, together we are creating enduring solutions to poverty.

  • ACDI/VOCA
  • Bank of America
  • BANCOLDEX
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Caterpillar Foundation
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • Citi Foundation
  • Credit Suisse
  • European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE)
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc.
  • Google, Inc.
  • Habitat for Humanity International
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • John Deere Foundation
  • Lundin Foundation
  • Mars, Inc.
  • The MasterCard Foundation
  • MicroVest
  • Monsanto Company
  • OikoCredit
  • PIMCO
  • ResponsAbility
  • Symbiotics
  • TechnoServe
  • TripleJump
  • UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
  • US Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • UPS
  • Water.org
  • Western Union
  • The World Bank

John
Deere

Thousands of smallholder farmers across Africa now have the chance to move from subsistence farming into commercially active agri-business activities thanks to support from John Deere. Our partnership enabled farmers to increase their production and yield per crop, receive training in agricultural best practices, hire mechanization services and gain access to new markets.

Caterpillar
Foundation

The Caterpillar Foundation’s unwavering support for more than 20 years has enabled entrepreneurs and their families around the world to gain access to financial services with the use of new innovations and technology in the countries where we work. Women empowered with savings accounts, small business loans, insurance and vital financial training can afford the cost of education to keep their children in school and are contributing to the development of their communities. Together, we will impact more than 18.3 million lives by 2017.

Credit
Suisse

Reaching millions of clients in underserved regions requires well-trained, dedicated staff developed at the local level. Credit Suisse has supported Opportunity’s Next Generation of Microfinance Bankers & Next Generation Electronic Wallet strategy, which encompasses staff and leadership development and succession planning, along with expanding the use of technology to deliver financial services to unserved rural areas.

The MasterCard
Foundation

After four successful years of collaboration, Opportunity International and The MasterCard Foundation have expanded their partnership to scale financial access in five underserved African countries. From 2009 to 2013, this strategic partnership equipped Opportunity International to deploy 676 financial access points, disburse 141,000 agricultural loans and open 1.4 million savings accounts in Africa. To build upon these achievements, The MasterCard Foundation is supporting Opportunity International’s delivery of high-impact financial services to poor and rural regions in Africa, including the deployment of innovative banking technologies and agricultural finance services.

Together, the Caterpillar Foundation and Opportunity International have transformed millions of lives since 1994 by providing access to financial services and training to help entrepreneurs and their families launch and expand successful businesses—even in the face of extreme poverty. We see women thrive with access to savings, loans and insurance; communities flourish as entrepreneurs create jobs. Children with access to education have a chance to leave poverty behind. If you are passionate about the future of women and girls, then you should know that Opportunity International is on the ground around the world with a proven track record of moving the needle against poverty.

Michele Sullivan, President, Caterpillar Foundation

We chose to expand this partnership with Opportunity International because they have proven themselves to be a strong partner and a leading microfinance institution... It’s rare to find an organization that is able to think outside the box, develop innovative approaches and still deliver such solid results.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO, The MasterCard Foundation

Donors building momentum

Friends of Opportunity International play a critical role in raising support and awareness for our clients around the world. Each year, hundreds of Opportunity supporters donate their time, resources, experiences and celebrations to drive momentum that creates global change. How will you build momentum this year?

Young Ambassadors
for Opportunity (YAO) chapters
Governors communities
(white states)

See how a few of our supporters got creative while giving back this year.

Sue Fish
St. Helena, CA

Sue Fish and other Governors and Opportunity supporters have raised $200,000 over the last decade through personal donations and events like Christmas poinsettia sales and photography exhibits featuring Opportunity clients.

Erin and Michael
Chicago, IL

Why ask for china when you can change lives? Erin and Michael complemented their traditional registry with an Opportunity fundraiser when they got married. Their belief that “small-scale entrepreneurs can be big change agents” drove more than $4,000 in donations.

Cody
Dallas, TX

Turning six was big for Cody – but even bigger for Opportunity clients, who benefited from his decision to turn gifts into loans by asking friends and family to donate to Opportunity in lieu of giving him presents!

Run4Poverty
Santa Barbara, CA

After seeing her friend and Opportunity Governor Deyl run 155 miles through the Sahara Desert to raise money for Opportunity, Vanessa was inspired to accomplish a similar harrowing mental and physical feat—this time through the Gobi Desert in China. Their running group, Run4Poverty, has raised more than $60,000 to help our clients make their dreams become reality.

YAO New York
New York City, NY

From bags tournaments to cross-fit classes, Young Ambassadors for Opportunity planned more than 90 events across the country this year to raise support and awareness. The New York chapter’s annual fall gala raised $15,000 in 2013 alone to support Opportunity’s work in Tanzania.

Katherine
Washington, D.C.

142 people committed to eating on $1.50 a day for five days this year to “Live Below the Line” for Opportunity to better understand the challenges our clients face on a daily basis. Participants like Katherine, who was a team captain, rallied their friends to raise $25,000 in total.

Wayne Presbyterian Church
Wayne, PA

Members of the Wayne Presbyterian Church felt a close connection with clients in Kenya and the Philippines when they used Opportunity Gift Cards to hand-pick their recipients and fund more than $8,650 in loans this year.

Governors

A community of philanthropic individuals, Opportunity’s Governors help us fight global poverty by providing financial support and serving as ambassadors for our work.

Churches, Corporations, Foundations and Organizations

  • Anderson Family Foundation
  • Boston Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Bethesda United Methodist
  • California Rock Crushers (Cal Crush)
  • The Chicago Trust Company
  • Christ Presbyterian Church
  • Church of the Saviour
  • Clemens Family Corporation
  • Collegiate Church Corporation
  • David Weekley Family Foundation
  • Deseret Trust Company
  • DEW Foundation
  • Emelco Foundation
  • Evangelical Covenant Church
  • First Presbyterian Church of Evanston
  • First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest
  • First Presbyterian Church of River Forest
  • Furniture Row Companies
  • Global Impact
  • GlobalGiving
  • Grace Presbyterian Church
  • Guerrant Foundation, Inc.
  • The Heart of CAbi Foundation
  • The Hildebrand Foundation
  • The Hoglund Foundation
  • Hugh E. and Marjorie S. Petersen Foundation
  • James and Agnes Kim Foundation
  • James Huntington Foundation
  • Kensington Community Church
  • The Kerrigan Family Charitable Foundation, Inc
  • Latitude
  • The Luzerne Foundation
  • Mayer Brown LLP
  • Nathan and Shelly Sarkisian Foundation
  • Oliver Group LLC
  • Oracle Corporation
  • PVBLIC Foundation
  • Rivendell Stewards’ Trust
  • Satter Family Foundation
  • St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church
  • Tradition Capital Bank
  • Turnquist Foundation
  • United Methodist Church Women’s Division
  • United Way of the Bay Area
  • ValMark Securities, Inc.
  • Victor & Christine Anthony Family Foundation
  • Warren Brown Family Foundation
  • Wayne Presbyterian Church
  • Wayzata Community Church
  • Weberg Foundation
  • Willow Creek Community Church
  • Women’s Opportunity Fund of St. Helena
  • York Association United Church of Christ

Ambassadors Council

  • Chuck Ahlem, Founding Partner, Hilmar Cheese Company
  • David Allman, Owner & Chairman, Regent Partners
  • Dennis and Denise Blankemeyer, Founders, Crow Brands
  • Jeannie Buckner, Life and Retirement Coach, and Family Life Educator
  • Richard Cope, CEO, NanoLumens
  • Kathy Drake, Former Investment Manager, Dodge & Cox
  • Jeff Germanotta, Retired Principal, William Blair & Company LLC
  • Dick Gochnauer, Former Chief Executive Officer, United Stationers
  • Jerry Jensen, President, Croff Oil Company
  • Rich McClure, President, UniGroup (United Van Lines/Mayflower Transit)
  • Ted Moser, Senior Partner, Prophet
  • Fred Sasser, CEO, Sasser Family Holdings
  • Tom Skelton, Founder, Skelton and Associates
  • Drew Smith, Venture Capitalist
  • Peter Thorrington, Former President & COO, UTi Worldwide Inc.

Financials Powering Momentum

By the Numbers

91%
of loans made to women
$182
average first trust group loan
$119
average savings balance
98%
loan repayment rate
17,500
employees
9,700
loan officers
99%
of loan officers are nationals

Total Value of Loans Disbursed

(for the year)

Gross Loan Portfolio at December 31, 2013: $605M

Total Value of Clients Savings Accounts

(as of year-end)

These figures represent voluntary savings and do not include compulsory savings.

Total Number of Unique Loan and Savings Clients

(as of year-end)

Total Funds Raised by Opportunity International - U.S.

(for the year)

The ratio of Fundraising and G&A expenditures to Total Revenue was 22% in 2013 and 28% in 2012. The ratio of Fundraising and G&A expenditures to Total Funds Raised was 15% in 2013 and 20% in 2012.

Total Expenditures by Opportunity International - U.S.

(for the year)

2013
$37M
2012
$52M

These charts show the portion of total expenditures related to Program Activities, and Fundraising and G&A Activities.

Download detailed financials here

Momentum to carry us forward

Dear Friends:

The momentum of 2013 propels us forward in ways most of us could not imagine, but through the power of prayer and God’s infinite capacity, we are indeed propelled forward as a globally united, highly innovative organization that enables a life to begin a journey of transformation every seven seconds. That is the frequency of a new loan from Opportunity to a determined individual. That is the real point of departure from poverty.

We share words, numbers, and images in this report – of clients, products, training, technology, and measurement of our clients’ progress. We are grateful to our committed community of donors and partners for fueling this measurable impact. At the same time, we are in awe of our clients who seize opportunity and, in the face of impossible odds, make everything possible. What a privilege to love and serve them.

Our U.S. Board, together with our Global Board, is inspired and able to provide effective stewardship and strategic leadership on your behalf as we combine forces with our colleagues around the world to deliver opportunity, create jobs and transform lives. Our focus is on smart growth, wise investment and our driven, determined, hopeful and compassionate clients.

We are all truly connected with our clients’ desire to live lives of dignity and purpose. Each of us has assets. Some of us lack opportunity. We are blessed to provide that opportunity to those who are born into persistent poverty. “Much will be required from everyone to whom much has been given. But even more will be demanded from the one to whom much has been entrusted.” (Luke 12:48)

Thank you for your continued support as we create momentum with the world’s entrepreneurs.

Sincerely,

Mark A. Thompson
U.S. Chairman of the Board

The board
that builds momentum

  • Katéy Assem, Executive Director, Chicago State University Foundation
  • Karen Robinson Cope, Executive Vice President, NanoLumens
  • Sandra Davis, Chair and Founder, MDA Leadership Consulting
  • Vicki Escarra, CEO, Opportunity International
  • Peter King AO, Former CEO, John Fairfax Group
  • Mark Linsz, Former CEO Risk Executive, Bank of America
  • Barbara Lupient, Chairman of the Board, Lupient Companies
  • Richard McClure, President, UniGroup, United Van Lines, Mayflower Transit
  • Jane Nelson, Former Vice President, Bank of America
  • Elizabeth S. Perdue, Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • Herve L. Sarteau, Former Senior Partner, CarVal Investors/Cargill Inc.
  • Beth Johnston Stephenson, Founding Partner, Willis Stein & Partners
  • Mark A. Thompson, Chief Manager, Riverbridge Partners, LLC
  • Peter Thorrington, Former President & COO, UTi Worldwide, Inc.
  • David M. Tolmie, Senior Partner, The Edgewater Funds
  • Terrence A. Watson, Chair Opportunity International UK and former Chief Risk Officer for Allianz Asset Management

Board Members as of June 2014

The team
that builds momentum

  • Vicki Escarra
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Deborah Bowker
    Chief Marketing Officer
  • Steve Lavey
    Chief Financial Officer
  • Chris Murdoch
    Chief Global Strategist
  • Jim Pedersen
    Senior Vice President and General Counsel
  • Dennis Ripley
    Chief Business Development Officer
  • David Simms
    Global Chief Development Officer & President, Opportunity U.S.
  • Connie Stryjak
    Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Harry Turner
    Chief Operating Officer
Close

Our Opportunity Model

Opportunity

We leverage our team, technology and local partnerships to provide access to the greatest resources for breaking free from poverty through human and financial capital.

We employ local staff who facilitate access to banking services and provide training in financial literacy, business management and personal wellbeing.

We engage community partners who provide training and expertise in key sectors such as agriculture and education.

We operate banks that deliver financial education and a full range of financial services, including loans, savings and insurance.

Donors

Our supporters offer vital financial capital, which is leveraged to achieve maximum impact in under-resourced communities.

Entrepreneurs

91 percent of our loans are provided to women entrepreneurs

Our clients work and contribute to their communities’ education, agriculture and health industries in the most impoverished and remote regions of the world.

We scale opportunity to create jobs and small businesses that increase employment, grow local economies and lift communities.

Together, we create momentum

Dear Friends:

It is fitting that we celebrate creating momentum with our clients at this exciting juncture in Opportunity’s history. I am truly grateful to all who supported Opportunity’s growth, innovation and impact in 2013. Together, we strengthened our organization and expanded the possibilities for how we can serve clients going forward.

With greater effectiveness for our clients in mind, we streamlined and focused the organization after a top-to-bottom review of our global governance and operations. We embarked on a bold roadmap for the future, driving efficiencies and expanding our services to even more people in need around the world.

We’re creating innovative services like Opportunity International’s Mobile Money, which makes banking as fast and convenient as a text message. Africa, for example, has about 700 million mobile phone users, and we’re harnessing the power of that technology in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and many individual supporters to bring—for the first time—life-changing financial services to even the most remote areas. Among other benefits, farmers and others in these rural communities can now bank entirely by phone, including applying for a loan and getting a response in as little as 10 minutes.

We energized our global operations and launched a dynamic new brand identity in 2013 to underscore our renewed commitment to growth and client transformation. There is tremendous power in the word “opportunity” in every language and our call to action—Invest in Opportunity—is a simple yet powerful statement inviting everyone to join our movement to break the cycle of poverty.

We led in our sector last year by instituting Social Performance Management (SPM), a set of management standards that gauge the true impact of our initiatives and promote an even higher level of transparency and accountability. SPM keeps clients front and center in everything we do and allows us to continually improve outcomes for those we serve. We aren’t looking for quick-fix, band-aid solutions but rather comprehensive, sustainable ways to help families excel for generations. Among other initial successes from implementing SPM, Opportunity Bank Serbia received the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) 2013 S.T.A.R. Award for “being socially transparent and responsible.” SPM is making us a better, more effective organization.

From our experience over the last 43 years, we know that every client has the power to create positive momentum for others. To foster this multiplier effect, we focus on areas with the greatest potential for generating momentum across a community. Education, for example, is one key to breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s why we’re working to put more children in classrooms around the world. Among our many initiatives, we created more than 10,000 new student loan accounts to help families pay for tuition, books, school uniforms and other expenses.

Our agriculture program focuses on helping small-scale farmers increase their crop yields, expand their profits and feed not only their families, but their entire communities. We work with farmers at every stage of their businesses—from planting to harvesting to selling crops—to ensure success. As part of our program, we distributed 75,000 agricultural loans to help farmers grow higher quality crops and become more successful.

We had an exceptional year for fundraising with revenue up 27 percent to $45 million in a tough economic environment. More than 50 percent was donated by thousands of generous and caring individuals around the world. We are also thankful for the strong support from corporate and institutional donors such as the Caterpillar Foundation, Credit Suisse, John Deere, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation.

Nothing compares to seeing the impact of that support in person. I traveled to Africa and Australia last year to meet clients and see our programs in action. In Rwanda, for example, I met up with Opportunity International’s lead Agriculture Finance expert John Magnay to visit maize farming cooperative Twihangire Umurimo Maize. When the co-op opened two years ago, only 800 of its 1,100 members could afford to open a savings account, which is required for membership. So those 800 farmers pooled their money and helped the other 300 members open accounts.

When the co-op opened, members were growing 200 tons of maize seed a year. Over the next two years, Opportunity International gave the co-op four loans so members could expand their farms and buy higher quality seeds and fertilizer. We also provided technical and financial training to farmers. Today, I’m happy to report that the co-op has tripled its crop yield to 600 tons and is lining up financing to create a dry storage facility to hold all of the maize! This is a remarkable story and a great example of the kind of life-changing lightning that strikes when opportunity meets hard work, talent and determination.

We’re proud of our achievements in 2013 and are focused on a strong future, including achieving our goal of creating 20 million jobs by 2020. Our motivation is simple—to continue answering Christ’s call to love and serve the poor by creating momentum with the world’s entrepreneurs.

Thank you for joining us on our journey to bring dignity, opportunity and hope to people everywhere. “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25)

In service together,

Vicki Escarra
Global Chief Executive Officer
Opportunity International

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  • Shelley and Thomas Jennings
  • Bart Massey
  • Trudy and John McCrea
  • Nancy and Bob McIntosh
  • Barbara McKee and Jeffrey Pfoutz
  • Pat Robertson
  • Bruce and Janey Smith
  • Kadita and Priscilla Tshibaka
  • WASHINGTON
  • Randy and Sharon Conrads
  • David and Misty Grieger
  • Warren and Judy Henninger
  • Laurie and Greg Nelson
  • Gary and Erin Peterson
  • Mark Royer
  • John Sage
  • Eugene and Karen Stoelk
  • WISCONSIN
  • Mark and Dawn Fuchs
  • Jeff and Inna Germanotta
  • Paul and Lois Heiss
  • Jeff and Winona Hughes
  • Jeff and Marja Koenitzer
  • Donald and JoAnne Krause
  • Hilton and Jean Neal
  • Mark and Sarah Tauscher
  • Kevin and Pam Voss
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • Lynne and David Baab
  • Bill and Sally Kooser
  • Janelle Muntz Lassonde
  • Caleb Royer
  • George and Jorie Yen

Lalithamma

India

After losing the use of her legs to polio at a young age, Lalithamma never thought she would be able to make money. She was completely reliant on her husband—and when he fell ill, their family didn’t know what to do.

Then she was approached by P. Pandu Ranga, a loan officer with Opportunity India. With his help, Lalithamma opened her own snack stall. Encouraged by the results, she told her friends about microfinance as well. They formed a support group of ten women, buying raw materials or opening their own businesses and helping each other with repayments.

Then the flood came. The waters left children without parents, parents without children, and Lalithamma without the business she had worked so hard to build. For two months, there were no customers.

Opportunity believes in women, and it believes that empowering women is the best way to end poverty and strengthen communities. So we lent more money to Lalithamma, and we didn’t expect her to pay it back right away. We help our clients find life, property and weather index insurance, and we facilitate support networks, to ensure that women can continue fighting for a brighter future, no matter what. Today, Lalithamma’s store is up and running again, she’s repaid her loans to Opportunity, and she is confident that if her husband cannot work again, she alone will be able to support her family.

Conchita

Philippines

Not many people reach age sixty and still feel young and ready to work, but Conchita Quintero does. Every day, she tends to her two-and-a-half hectares of land and over 1,300 animals in order to give her children a better future.

Growing up, Conchita’s parents could not afford to send her to school. She did chores from 5 a.m. until midnight and still remembers the humiliation of seeing other children going to school, with clean clothes and full stomachs, while she worked and went hungry.

Nine years of microfinance loans changed all that. In addition to her land and animals, Conchita now also owns a variety store and a rice thresher. Beyond just money, Opportunity International also provides her with training seminars and helps her find buyers for her products.

Opportunity’s Agricultural Finance program helps farmers like Conchita obtain the technical skills necessary to improve their crops and the financing to help transport crops to access the most profitable buyer markets. Now, when Conchita looks at what Opportunity has helped her build, she can say to her children, “Love this, because I worked hard for this. I built it with my hard work.”

Rubela

India

As a child, Rubela dreamt that she would grow up to be happy and wealthy, with food to eat and a nice home. She had the love of her mother, and anything seemed possible.

Everything changed when her mother died when Rubela was very young. Now twenty years old, Rubela’s tough childhood has left her illiterate and struggling to survive. She was forced to move in with her brother and sister-in-law after being left destitute when her husband divorced her on the instructions of his parents.

Determined not to be a burden on her brother’s family, she sought a way to stand on her own. That’s how she found Opportunity India. With her first loan, Rubela was able to buy raw supplies for her bracelet-making business. Every day, she gets up early to buy supplies and sell her jewelry at a market.

Even so, she is barely getting by, with savings of only 10 rupees — 25 cents — to show for her labor each day. Rubela’s first loan helped her get on her feet, but she will need more loans to achieve the life she dreamt of as a child. Breaking the cycle of poverty is not easy — but with the right opportunity, it is possible.

Beesama

India

When Beesamma’s husband fell into a coma and passed away, she knew that the only person she could rely on to provide for her and her two children was herself—and Opportunity India. Already a longtime microfinance client, Beesamma was determined to continue supporting her family. “I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t manage to work hard to pay back the loans,” she says.

Beesamma invested her loans to grow her chicken “bandi” snack business. She has taken out three loans from Opportunity, paid back every one on time, and is now the owner of the snack cart she used to rent.

Because of her success, Beesamma can afford to send her son to a good school, and has already saved $500 for her young daughter’s wedding dowry—saving for a happier future for her family. She is working hard to ensure that both her son and daughter can receive an education and follow their dreams. “I want to see my children settled and happy,” Beesamma says. “That’s my desire.”

Freiman

Colombia

After his father was murdered, Freiman Brunal fled from his hometown of Monteria, Colombia, to Cartagena, in search of a new start and a better life. Life in Cartagena was no easier, however; Freiman had to drop out of school, where he was studying business administration, because he could no longer afford it.

That’s where Opportunity Colombia came in. With their help, Freiman secured a small loan to start a taxi business with one motorcycle, while his wife used an Opportunity loan to expand her single-table grocery business. But they didn’t stop there. Freiman and his wife soon merged their businesses to form a grocery delivery service, and with the help of another loan from Opportunity, turned that delivery service into a free-standing grocery store—now the largest in their town.

Because of his perseverance and success, not only can Freiman and his family plan to add a second floor to their home, but Frieman is also now a leader in his community. Under his leadership, his community has laid over 300 pipes and provided water for the entire neighborhood.

Freiman came to Cartagena seeking a better life for his family; with Opportunity, what he found was the chance to create a better life for his entire community.

Suzie

Uganda

One of Opportunity’s keys to our clients’ success is the Trust Group model: we help groups of 10 to 30 entrepreneurs form a network where they can find financial training, solidarity and support. Each Trust Group elects a leader, and the members meet weekly to share advice and encouragement.

Suzie Wandera is a founding member and chairperson of the Suubi Trust Group in her town in Uganda. Since 1997, she has serviced 21 loans with Opportunity, which have enabled her to open and expand a hostel in her local university town. She hopes to use future loans to reopen her tailoring school, targeting young girls who had previously dropped out.

Suzie’s success in business has also enabled her to be a force for change in her community. In addition to paying school tuition for her grandchildren, she is able to support several other dependents’ educations as well. She is also a political leader in her town, serving as the local council’s vice-chairperson, championing the causes of youth and women. Her time as a leader within her Trust Group has given her the resources and confidence to be a leader for her entire community.

Solange

Rwanda

The impact of a loan from Opportunity doesn’t end with the client who receives it—it multiplies throughout the community. Solange Fitina, who received a loan from Opportunity Rwanda to expand her tailoring business and invest in new machines, is now able to support her three children, younger sister and niece with their educations.

Working with Opportunity has also given her the resources to transfer her business knowledge to other members of her community. Since receiving her loan, Solange has taught 70 members of her community how to retail, including six for free because they could not pay. Her students have gone on to become her employees or to found their very own businesses. Solange also expanded her business to include renting out wedding clothing, and she has dressed several of her students for their weddings as well.

Solange’s success has had a ripple effect throughout her entire community, with the continued growth of Solange’s business contributing to the continued growth of those around her, and she has no plans of stopping any time soon. “The more money we borrowed, the more our business expanded,” Solange says. “Today we can get ourselves anything we want.”

Modeste

Rwanda

When Modeste Babonangenda first founded Apaderwa Academy in 2006, it was a nursery school with 32 students. Today, with the help of Urwego Opportunity Bank in Rwanda, it is a nursery and primary school with 256 students and 10 teachers.

Because of Modeste’s work, those 256 Rwandan students have access to a quality private education, where the student-to-faculty ratio is 25:1, rather than the public school ratio of 80:1. With the help of loans from Urwego Opportunity Bank, Modeste has been able to provide them with books, desks and building repairs and has expanded the school compound. He’s not done yet, though—he is planning to build four new classrooms, and if he can acquire a laptop, to teach his students basic computer skills.

Modeste credits his success to the work of Opportunity Rwanda and the blessings of God in his life. While three local banks refused to loan money to Apaderwa Academy because of high default rates in Rwanda, Urwego Opportunity Bank is wholeheartedly invested in the value of education. With his faith and the continued support of Opportunity, Modeste will continue lighting the paths of nearly 300 children.

Mercy

Ghana

Worn down by commuting long distances to reach the public school where she was a teacher, Mercy Senyegah decided to open her own school in a small structure next to her house. But those dreams were short lived, as her husband’s creditors came and destroyed her school building overnight. That didn’t stop Mercy though. Determined to continue educating the children of Ghana, Mercy moved out of town, and with a loan from a friend, leased a small piece of land and opened the Divine Knowledge School Complex. Her school crammed four classrooms of children into one room, with another classroom in the school kitchen.

That’s when Mercy found Opportunity Ghana. With the help of education finance loans, Mercy has been able to cement her school’s floors, build more classrooms, hire more teachers to serve her 270 pupils, and provide lunch, desks and school supplies. “My vision was one day this school would become a great one,” she says. “At first, I didn’t know how to save, but we have loan officers whose advice and encouragement can help your business to grow.”

Eunice

Kenya

Though trained as an accountant, Eunice Atieno Onyango realized she had another potential career path ahead of her when she exhibited a product of her weaving class by the side of the road. People actually got out of their cars to ask her how much it cost and whether she had more to sell, she says.

Eunice promptly quit her job at an insurance company and opened her own workshop in the front room of her house. With a loan of approximately $285 from Opportunity Kenya, she was able to buy yarn in bulk and employ her first workers. Today, she employs seven weavers, and as soon as she pays off her initial loan, plans to ask for another to set up her own storefront.

Eunice’s business model is unique not only for the quality of her weaving, but also for her innovative approach to money transfer: mobile banking. Nearly all of her transactions—from receiving Opportunity loans to taking customer orders to paying tuition for her children—are done over the phone, which saves her time and money, as she would have to travel great distances to visit a brick-and-mortar bank.

Opportunity recognizes that the cycle of poverty is often reinforced by people’s lack of access to financial services. By introducing our entrepreneurs to technology like mobile banking, satellite branches and ATMs, we put thriving businesses right within the reach of people like Eunice.

Luz

Colombia

For years, Luz and her daughters lived paycheck to paycheck, always trying to stay ahead of the next rent payment. “I felt like I didn’t have a future,” she says. So she uprooted her family and moved to a new neighborhood, where the rent was cheaper and there were more opportunities. There, she opened her own washing business, renting out a single washing machine to the community.

The real change came when Luz found Opportunity International, which gave her a loan to buy more washing machines. She expanded her business, and with the profits, bought another machine, and then another.

Today, in addition to her washing business, Luz also sells catalog items and frozen foods. She credits Opportunity with teaching her how to become a successful businesswoman. “I save all the profits, I pay the bills, and the rest I get after that, I invest in another business. The earnings from that other business, I invest again,” she says. “Opportunity has taught me how to manage my finances. I didn’t know how to do that before.” Now Luz not only has money to pay the rent, but also to support her daughters’ educations. “When they decide to become doctors or professionals, I will have something to help them,” she says.

Gladis

Colombia

Driven out of her hometown by rampant violence at a young age, Gladis and her family arrived in Cartagena seeking a better life. She worked as a maid in other people’s homes and sold soup with her aunt to make a living.

But Gladis wanted something more. As a single mother of two, she was looking for a more independent way to support herself and her children. She started a small convenience store to sell rice and vegetables, so the members of her community would not have to travel great distances to get food. With her first loan from Opportunity Colombia, Gladis expanded the inventory of her store, and she now works closely with the organization to reinvest her profits and continue growing her business.

Gladis is saving money to send her children to university and improve her living situation, and one day she hopes to be the owner of a large supermarket. “Opportunity has fulfilled all my expectations,” she says. “I feel fulfilled, accomplished and blessed by God.”