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Meet Opportunity: Minnesota College Students Get to Know Microfinance

By Nolan Soltvedt

This fall, I spoke to a class at the University of Minnesota about Opportunity International’s work and about my involvement with Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO). The students were asked to write a one-page reflection paper on the topic, which gave me a great insight into a college student’s first impressions of Opportunity. The students in this class, called Entrepreneurial Management: Launch to Maturity, were primarily upper-classmen, and most of them were double-majoring in entrepreneurship and another business discipline like finance or marketing. Here are a few excerpts and highlights from just a few of the students’ reflection papers:

Ava Ramberg

“I found the speech on Opportunity International to be a breath of fresh air. So far [in class] we have had many speakers that talk mainly of their own journeys and companies, while these are all very interesting, Nolan Soltvedt was able to take the speech beyond the realm of the individual.” A few points Ava highlights–

  • Opportunity has been able to raise millions by creating a business model for efficient business models. They have developed a system in which loans get repaid at a rate far beyond those in the U.S.
  • Opportunity International has taken the next step in globalizing nonprofits and has efficiently scaled itself into a massive presence in this sector

Students can be a part of the microfinance movement and mobilize their campus to help alleviate global poverty. For ways to get involved, visit opportunity.org/students.

Bryan Axelrod

“The loan process in America is very different than the countries in which Opportunity International operates. The American process is very formal, requiring paperwork, credit checks, and collateral.” Speaking of the Trust Group model, he says, “This system has such a high repayment rate that is amazing. It is an interesting thought that [developing] countries respect honor and trust more than much of America or similar countries.”

“Opportunity International is a great idea when comparing the other options in international philanthropy.” Bryan discusses how Opportunity empowers clients to improve their futures through their own hard work and utilizing the microfinance solutions it offers to them. “In this way,” he says, ”the methods that are used by Opportunity International are much more sustainable than the other organizations.”

Kelsey Marti

Like Bryan, Kelsey also talked about the Trust Group model. She says, “[The Trust Group model] shows that the people around you will push you to make the payments if you can’t, because otherwise they are held accountable for the money you don’t pay. Interesting concept.”

The info about Opportunity’s microinsurance products also made an impression on Kelsey. She says, “Their weather-index crop insurance is a very unique feature for Opportunity.” She describes the process by which farmers can take out an insurance policy to help them make ends meet if their crop yields go down because there is not enough rain.

On college campuses around the world, students are excited about the concepts behind microfinance and the movement to end global poverty. Students, are you looking for a way to get involved? Bring poverty alleviation efforts to your school by applying to become Opportunity’s representative on campus through our Campus Coordinators program, or by organizing a Two Dollar a Day Challenge at your school. Visit opportunity.org/students orhttp://www.opportunity.org/contact-us/contact us[/intlink] for more information.

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