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© 2016 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Ladies Dancing, Families Thriving: Unlocking the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs

By Heather Kaczrowski

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing...

When women gain equal opportunity, communities and economies thrive. Around the world, women fulfill key roles as hardworking farmers, educators, business owners and mothers, yet face the biggest challenges in securing a better future for themselves and their children.

Research demonstrates that women:

  • Make up nearly 50% of farmers in East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, yet account for less than 20% of landowners
  • Along with their daughters, represent an estimated two-thirds of those living on less than $2 a day
  • Are much more likely than men to use their income on their children’s health and education
  • Suffer most from the chronic effects of poor nutrition, insufficient access to healthcare and limited education opportunities
  • Comprise the majority of victims of forced labor, gender violence and legal and cultural inequities

Equipped with a loan, however, and financial training, women entrepreneurs are unlocking their potential and triggering positive generational changes in their families, communities and countries. Opportunity is committed to helping women transcend social and economic barriers, which is why more than 9 out of 10 Opportunity loans go to women, and why we invest in innovative services, such as Trust Groups, to help women drive sustainable change in their lives and communities. 

Empowering Women as Change-Agents through Trust Groups

Opportunity’s group loans, called Trust Group loans, are an essential starting point for many impoverished women who have very little or no collateral to qualify for a traditional loan. Within Trust Groups, women mutually guarantee each other’s loans in lieu of collateral and meet weekly for training and repayment. Opportunity’s powerful Trust Group vehicle equips women with skills in business planning, financial management and prudent saving, which helps them wisely invest their loans to grow their businesses, build a sustainable income and, potentially, hire additional employees. Trust Groups also offer women a valuable support system to encourage each other and celebrate their tremendous accomplishments – for good reason, praise and dance are frequent aspects of Opportunity Trust Group meetings!

Through a Trust Group, a woman becomes an active economic agent, which improves her self-confidence and helps her gain an important voice in her family and community. With a thriving business and sustainable income, women in marginalized communities around the world are unlocking their potential, investing in their families and communities, and transforming their lives. 

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