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Compassion International to Provide $5 Million to Expand Partnership With Opportunity International in Africa

Two Leading Christian Organizations Collaborate To Help Poor Families Work Their Way Out of Poverty

Oak Brook, Ill. – Nov. 6, 2007 – Compassion International and Opportunity International, among the largest Christian organizations of their kind, today announced a dramatic expansion of their partnership that began last year in Uganda to promote sustainable, transformational community development for the poor across Africa.

Compassion International, a leading child development and sponsorship ministry serving more than 900,000 children in 24 countries, will invest $5 million over the next five years in Opportunity International to fund its microfinance operations to reach more of the working poor. The partnership will enable Opportunity to expand its operations in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda, offering microloans, savings accounts, insurance and business training to the families of Compassion-sponsored children and other community members.

“This relationship is a strategic alliance between two Christian operations, focused on the same mission to reverse the cycle of poverty in the lives of the poor,” said Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International. “Ministries such as Compassion can deliver far greater outcomes by sharing ideas and resources with other Christian groups than we could on our own. Our Christian community expects this type of engagement. We believe our ongoing effort with Opportunity will continue to produce mutually beneficial results for the children, families and communities that both organizations serve.”

In October 2006, Compassion International awarded $180,000 to Opportunity International to open new microfinance operations in three rural areas in Uganda where Compassion-supported families are concentrated. In addition to business loans, Opportunity has also offered training in business development and management skills, as well as holistic training in HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention to the caregivers of Compassion-sponsored children. Over the past year, Opportunity International has made 25,219 loans totaling more than $11.5 million in Uganda. Compassion International helps support more than 50,500 Ugandan children.

“We believe that our two organizations, each with its own strengths and areas of expertise, can have a much bigger impact on the poor if we work together rather than stand alone,” said Christopher A. Crane, president and CEO of Opportunity International. “We pray that this Christ-centered, holistic approach to development will serve as a useful and replicable model for the many fine churches and charitable Christian organizations that are doing God’s work in the developing world.”

Impact of Uganda Program on One Family
Following is an example of the Compassion-Opportunity partnership and how it has benefited one family in Uganda.

Phoebe Kebirungi and her husband were finding it difficult to provide basic necessities for their 10 children and the orphans of her late sister. Compassion Uganda stepped in to sponsor their daughter Marion, then in second grade, providing her with an education, health care, social skills development and Christian training. Through the new partnership, Phoebe became an Opportunity International loan client with the Rukungiri branch in western Uganda in March 2006, when she received her first loan of $286 to begin a bricklaying business.

With profits from her growing business, Phoebe provided much needed essentials, including education, proper nutrition and medical treatment for all of their children. Using the business training and management skills she received from Opportunity International, Phoebe made timely loan repayments and, after repaying the first loan, she received a second loan for $572 to construct a large poultry house that she stocked with 200 chicks. Her third loan of $1,144 is being used to purchase a cow and start a banana growing business.

Phoebe says she is thankful for the encouragement, training and counseling she received from Opportunity and for the extra support from her daughter’s Compassion sponsor family. Although she is married to a supportive husband who is the supervisor of her bricklaying business, she proudly states, “I am a financially independent woman.”

About Compassion International

Compassion is one of the world's largest Christian child-development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and nearly 4,000 indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since its founding in 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than 1.6 million children and has been recognized for its financial integrity with top ratings and recommendations by several of the nation’s leading not-for-profit “watchdog” organizations. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion online at www.compassion.com or by calling (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., MST.

About Opportunity International

Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org or join the conversation at http://facebook.com/opportunityintl and http://twitter.com/opportunityintl.

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