About Us History
Opportunity International was founded in 1971 by two visionary leaders who were inspired to take action by their experiences with people living in extreme poverty.
Al Whittaker, former president of Bristol Myers International Corporation in the U.S., and Australian entrepreneur David Bussau sought a solution that would help people transform their lives and sustain their success.
Opportunity International was one of the first nonprofit organizations to recognize the benefits of microfinance—financial services for low-income people—in developing countries.
In 1991, the Women’s Opportunity Network (WON) created a group-lending methodology called the Trust Group—a model that’s helped promote accountability among clients and led to a 99 percent loan repayment rate.
Opportunity International began building a series of permanent and mobile banks in 2000 to provide loans, savings accounts and other financial services to people who previously lacked access. So far, Opportunity International has built 45 regulated microfinance institutions, including nine banks.
We began offering microinsurancein 2002 through MicroEnsure, the world’s first microinsurance intermediary. MicroEnsure provides weather-indexed crop insurance for rural farmers, affordable health insurance for the economically marginalized and protection against many other risks facing people living in poverty. Today MicroEnsure is its own independent entity, serving improverished communities around the world with creative insurance solutions.
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