OAK BROOK, ILL., (March 20, 2006) – Opportunity International, one of the world’s largest microfinance organizations, announced today that it has reached a major milestone in the Philippines, reaching their 2005 target of financing more than 500,000 microbusinesses, operated primarily by very poor women who are committed to working their way out of poverty.
The good news for poor entrepreneurs comes at a critical time for the Philippines. Recently, catastrophic mudslides buried a village in the southern Philippine island of Leyte and left many homeless. Loans from Opportunity International will help many residents rebuild and gain back their businesses and income.
With an average family size of five, these loans, which enable poor women and men to increase their income and create jobs for their neighbors, have impacted more than 2.5 million poor Filipinos. Eighty-six percent of Opportunity International’s clientele is comprised of women who have a proven track record of investing for the future. Extra income earned through their microbusinesses is most often used to provide nutritious food for their families, send children to school, pay for medical expenses, hire employees and further invest in their businesses.
Opportunity International provides micro-business loans in every major area of the Philippines and has set a target of financing 1 million microbusinesses annually in 2010. “Over the last eight years, Opportunity’s program in the Philippines has grown from financing 30,000 microbusinesses to more than 500,000 annually – a compound annual growth rate of over 42 percent,” said Christopher Crane, President and CEO, Opportunity International, “With this outstanding performance, Opportunity will reach its target and more, resulting in more than 5 million lives impacted in 2010.”
Four years ago, an Opportunity International loan of $93 helped Marilyn Obdaniela expand her handicraft business with five employees in Tayabas, Philippines. Today, 20 families – more than 80 people in all – work for Marilyn’s enterprise, producing 2,000 crafted baskets per week. Marilyn’s baskets export to Europe and also sell to several locations in the Philippines. With the profits from her business, Marilyn is able to improve her family’s home and nutritional standards. Marilyn also provides enough income to allow all of her employees to afford school fees for their children. Marilyn plans to help every one of her weavers’ children complete their schooling.
Opportunity International’s scaleable branch model has served as its core platform for expanding financial services to the poor throughout the Philippines. Using this methodology, Opportunity can open six branch offices at a time to achieve economies of scale in recruiting, training and rollout and is able to achieve break-even status within nine months of most branch openings.
Leveraging technological advancements such as ATMs, cellular phones and biometric technology allows Opportunity International to keep costs down for its clients, provide convenient access to services and reach remote areas. In the Philippines, Opportunity International operates at 113 percent financial sustainability, with a portfolio at risk > 30 days of 2.5 percent, an outstanding portfolio of more than $36.9 million and an average loan size of $117, a strong indicator of its commitment to serving the very poor.
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.