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Chicago, IL 60607

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© 2021 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

50 Weeks of Opportunity

Each week for the next 50 weeks, we will share a piece of Opportunity’s history—major or minor, sobering or inspiring, we have gotten where we are today by facing some of the world’s greatest challenges, with you by our side. Please join us in celebrating the many impactful moments that have built the foundation on which we will embark on our most audacious vision yet: ending extreme poverty.

50 for 50: Meet Tito Santa María

by Opportunity International

As we celebrate Opportunity’s 50th Anniversary, we are looking back at our history and remembering the clients who have inspired us along the way. One of the earliest recipients of an Opportunity International loan was Tito Santa María, a beekeeper in Colombia. We are honored to share his story. I’ve always said that the bees do a perfect job—all of the mistakes are ours. My name is Mr. Tito Santa María, and I’m a beekeeper. Thirty years ago, I took out a loan to run my own business from…

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50 for 50: The Opportunity International Book Club

by Opportunity International

For years, we’ve felt deeply that the path to knowledge and innovation starts with education. Reading, whether an academic journal or an international novel, has always been a habit that keeps us curious, inspired, and creative. In 2018, Opportunity International launched a new way to get involved, learn about the world, and connect with supporters: The Opportunity International Book Club. Inspired by small book clubs that had popped up among groups of donors around the country, the Book Club became…

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50 for 50: History of Mobile Banks

by Opportunity International

Opportunity International has been at the forefront of mobile banking for decades. As technology has developed over time, so has our ability to reach and serve those living far from urban centers—those who are often most in need of resources and support. Research estimates that 80% of people living in extreme poverty live in rural regions, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia where low population density and poor infrastructure make it difficult for individuals to access traditional…

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50 for 50: Journeying from Client to Advisor

by Berta Regina Sierra Aguas

My name is Berta Regina Sierra Aguas, and I am 52 years old. I live with my husband, my two sons, my daughter-in-law, and my two grandchildren in Soledad, Atlántico—a municipality an hour and a half from the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. With God's help, we now have a big, beautiful home. Most of my time is dedicated to my work at AGAPE—Opportunity International's partner in Colombia—but I like to spend my free time with my family, especially my grandchildren. I first heard about Opportunity…

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50 for 50: Bringing Health Insurance to Those Who Need It Most

by Richard Leftley

In 2004, Richard Leftley wrote a white paper outlining the severe risks the HIV/AIDS crisis presented for Opportunity International Trust Groups. He proposed a new, creative solution: very small insurance policies for Opportunity International’s clients. Originally, these microinsurance policies were designed to cover a client’s loan balance and, in some cases, funeral expenses, should a Trust Group member pass away. This simple-but-revolutionary concept became MicroEnsure, the world’s first…

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50 for 50: YAO Memories

by Allison Kooser

In 2008, a group of young philanthropists came together in support of Opportunity International. They were so impressed by the model and inspired by the clients that they decided to build a community that would help them introduce even more friends to the organization—Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO) was born. Through local chapters in cities around the United States, Young Ambassadors were able to build relationships, educate their peers about microfinance and development, encourage friends…

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50 for 50: Origin Stories - Eastern Europe

by Linda Vander Weele

Our Family’s History In the mid-1980s, our family’s global interest was growing. We had recently adopted two Japanese daughters when former board chair Dave Hardin introduced us to microfinance and Opportunity International in 1987. That year, we took an Opportunity Insight Trip to Guatemala and Costa Rica—and I was invited to join the U.S. board. I suggested a “2-for-1 deal” that would also include my husband, Ken. In 1990, we organized and led our own Insight Trip to Guatemala and Costa…

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50 for 50: Honoring World Hunger Day

by Opportunity International

In May 1971, thousands of people across the United States gathered in their communities for walks organized and coordinated by the American Freedom From Hunger Foundation—an organization that would go on to aid the United Nations Freedom From Hunger Campaign (NYT). Some people chose to run long distances, and others walked for hours behind them. The energy resembled the exhausted joy we now associate with modern charity walks. When the event took place in the early 1970s, nearly 35% of those living…

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50 for 50: Highlighting Refugee Families on the International Day of Families

by Opportunity International

When Johanna left Venezuela in 2018 headed for Barranquilla, Colombia, she had one goal in mind: a better future for her family. It was the first time she traveled abroad, and she arrived in Colombia as a refugee, facing a different culture, new people, and an entirely unfamiliar reality. Johanna thought she would be able to get a job in a shop, but she ran into persistent barriers and discrimination. Her status as an outsider made it hard for her to support herself and her children. Throughout our…

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50 for 50: Celebrating 7 Educators During Teacher Appreciation Week

by Opportunity International

Opportunity International's Education Finance program began by recognizing education as an integral part of reducing global poverty and inequality. This year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized education's critical place in our world and reminded us of teachers' extraordinary creativity, tenacity, and strength. They navigated school closures, attempted to teach virtual classes without reliable connectivity, and ensured that children continued learning amidst so many challenges. In…

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