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Opportunity’s Banking on Africa Programs are a Step Ahead

By Kristabel Stark

Kristabel was an Intern with Opportunity International in the Summer of 2013.

Close your eyes and picture Africa.
What do you see? A hungry child? A war-torn village?

It’s no surprise if you do: The portrayal of Africa in the U.S. media has long focused on its political and social crises. But as President Obama met with African business and political leaders in South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania in June of 2013, he addressed Africa as an emerging trade partner and peer—not a patient seeking urgent care. In fact, the president expressed his desire to create policies that enable African nations to manage development programs themselves rather than rely on U.S. dollars.

African economies charted 6 percent growth last year, expanding three times faster than the U.S. economy. The Economist has reported that of the 10 fastest growing world economies, six are in sub-Saharan Africa. With a population that is expected to double by 2050, and exponential expansion of personal financial tools such as credit cards and mobile banking, Africa’s markets and labor force are exploding with new economic opportunity.

Countries like China and Brazil started investing in Africa as a trade partner decades ago. Today, the U.S. also recognizes the mutual benefits of close ties with the continent. A partnership will not only strengthen global economies but could facilitate important collaboration in fighting international terrorism, human trafficking and environmental destruction.

Government aid is not the only way to create a stronger Africa. Governments around the world are realizing that the way to help Africans create empowering, sustainable solutions to poverty is through business and education.It’s a philosophy that has driven Opportunity’s efforts for more than four decades, in Africa and beyond.

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