October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. At Opportunity International, we are proud to support women and girls around the world. And today, we are proud to share the story of Amina Mendez, a girl who is transforming her life and her community.
Amina Mendez, 24, is from Nueva Ecija,a province in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. She grew up with her mother, Remy, who was a day laborer at a farm making about $2 a day. When Amina was five, her mother received an agricultural loan and training from Opportunity International that changed their lives.
“Before my loan I worked in the village digging for onions on someone else’s land," Remy said. "Two dollars a day was not enough to provide for my two children.”
Remy received a $110 loan through an Opportunity International bank in the Philippines. She used the money to buy three pigs to start a small piggery.
“I went to Opportunity International because I needed a loan,” Remy said. "But then I found out it’s about more than money and that I would receive training to help me become successful.”
Since then, Remy has received several more loans from Opportunity International to expand her business.
Opportunity International taught Remy Mendez not only to plan from harvest to harvest but also to plan for the future. “Before, I’m just buying piglets. But at this time I have my baboy (sows); they are giving piglets…It’s more profitable than just selling them,” Remy said.
As a result, Amina finished school and won a college scholarship through Opportunity International’s partnerships with APPEND, one of the largest groups of micro and social entrepreneurs in the Philippines. Amina attended the University of the Philippines then Ohio Wesleyan University to study mathematics. Remy recently received an educational loan from Opportunity International to finance her younger daughter Rina’s education. Rina wants to become a teacher.
Thanks to the support of the Caterpillar Foundation, loans and training from Opportunity International have transformed the Mendez family. Today, Amina works as a corporate planning officer at an Opportunity International bank in the Philippines where she helps other families break the cycle of poverty and transform their lives.
Remy is happy that her daughters will never have to know the hunger she faced in her life. Amina is proud to help measure the economic benefits of accessing capital, insurance and training. She sees firsthand how these tools create social change in the Philippines and contribute to the success of more women and families like her own.
Investing in girls in the Philippines matters…
Cultural and legal inequities in the Philippines prevent women like Remy from starting businesses. Unfortunately, these women are more vulnerable to forced labor, malnutrition and violence. In addition, these women lack access to the basic financial tools they need to be successful, including access to loans.
Women make up 70 percent of the 2.5 billion people worldwide who live on less than $2 a day, according to UN Women. The greatest challenge facing women in places like the Philippines is not lack of knowledge or motivation, but a lack of access to financial services and training to launch businesses, support their families and strengthen the local economy.
Girls are the first to be removed from school when family finances suffer or often stop attending when they reach adolescence due to inadequate school sanitation facilities.
Today, Amina and Remy are thriving…
Remy worked hard to achieve her dream of building a better life for her children than what she grew up with in the Philippines. As the first in her family to graduate from college, her daughter Amina lives with a great sense of pride and obligation to work hard and do well to, in a sense, validate her mom’s decision to give her and her sister better life opportunities.
Amina enjoys the field of math and in her job as Corporate Planning Officer at Opportunity International, Amina views her work as vitally important to the success of the organization. She is responsible for coordinating the organization’s Social Performance Management initiative, which measures the transformation of clients’ economic, personal, social lives, and the status and progress out of poverty over time. She’s proud to be responsible for ensuring the products and services offered to clients are aligned with the organization’s mission to bring about transformation in the lives of its clients. It’s a commitment to improving the social outcomes of microfinance—measuring the economic benefits of accessing capital, insurance and training and how it extends to social change by clients.
This is a great application of Amina’s education in mathematics to better her hometown and a program that gave her mother a start. She will help Opportunity International do research and collect data that will shape Opportunity International programs. These are programs that she understands very well, because her mother used Opportunity International loans and training to build a successful piggery.
She's an extremely hard worker who digs in and has always worked hard to make the department and projects she's responsible for successful. She gains personal fulfillment from her work and is enthusiastic about taking on responsibility. She wants to be perceived as someone with an impact and puts forth a great deal of time, effort and energy to ensure things are done right. She’s excited about her prospects in this new stage of her career and believes her greatest professional achievements are yet to come.
You can support women and girls like Remy and Amina by investing in women with Opportunity International. Join us as we empower women and girls around the world to transform their lives and their communities.