Naomi. I have never met a woman so determined to make a difference. Her bright eyes sparkled, her hands showed the toughness that comes from work, and from her mouth poured words of encouragement and empowerment.
I had the pleasure to meet Naomi and tour her Royal Seed Orphanage in Ghana while on an Insight Trip for Opportunity International. She was the last in a series of meetings that day with entrepreneurs who had benefited from the power of microfinance. Only she was different.
The young woman (I would guess she was in her early 30s) had a neighborhood school, the profits of which went to maintaining an on-site orphanage. When asked what her criterion was for accepting orphans, she laughed and shook her head. “Once I told someone that I could not take their child,” she said. “Hours later, I found the baby in the bushes outside my gate. Now I know I must take all children who come.”
Her loan officer explained that she was not a typical loan recipient. Her business was not profit-driven, but rather education-focused. Her family was a unit of over 150, with so many orphans and mouths to feed. The staff she employed survived on hope and faith rather than grandiose paychecks.
Opportunity International gave her a chance. She has never been late in repaying her loans.
Naomi, on the other hand, gave me much more than what my organization gave her. Naomi gave me the optimism that if the world contains more women like herself, then the future is a bright place.