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August 9, 2011

Breaking Down Barriers & Building Access Through Microfinance Innovations

By Opportunity International

Annie Nyangomba smiles for the camera at Opportunity’s new branch in the DR Congo. Bank Teller Alma Romina takes the photo for Annie’s ID card as part of the process of opening a biometric-based account.Targeted to reach the most marginalized, Opportunity’s financial products help hardworking people overcome the inherent obstacles of poverty and build a more stable, secure and fulfilling life.

Throughout the developing world, people are excluded from access to financial services by barriers like meager, unsteady income; illiteracy; gender bias; expensive transportation and geographic isolation. To address these challenges, Opportunity carefully crafts savings, loan, training and insurance products in partnership with those in need.

With the help of efficient delivery channels, we can bring these customized products virtually anywhere—whether our clients live in a remote farming village or run a business in a sprawling urban market. Satellite branches and mobile banks give us the flexibility to provide all the services of a branch close to the people, without the expense of building a traditional bank. ATMs, point-of-sale devices and cell phone banking technologies extend our reach even further by making it possible for clients to transact business in local markets and shops—or even from their home or business.

Building Access

  • An impoverished woman has no formal identification. - Opportunity’s biometric technology allows her to open and access a savings account using only her fingerprint embedded in an ID card to give her recognition she never had.
  • A baker can’t earn enough to feed her family. - With access to banking for the first time in her life, she acquires a $140 Opportunity loan and business training that she uses to increase her sales—and her profits.
  • A child is sick and needs medicine. - His parents have set aside small sums in an Opportunity savings account, so they are able to purchase the $2 medicine for his care.
  • A fruit vendor feels unsafe carrying her profits home from work. - With an Opportunity banking kiosk near her market stall, she can safely deposit her earnings.

This piece appeared in Opportunity’s 2010 Annual Report. Explore all its stories and info by clicking here.