The 2011 Opportunity International Conference“Innovating to End Poverty,” kicks off just moments ago with opening remarks from Lillian Covington, VP of Resource Development, and our CEO Bill Morgenstern, who welcomed attendees. Throughout the weekend, we’ll be streaming live video of plenary sessions and breakout sessions at the conference. Watch it live at opportunity.org/live.
Welcoming attendees to the conference, Bill said: “When we decided on our conference theme, we knew that the place to bring it was right here, in Silicon Valley. Technology and microfinance are two innovative industries that came of age at roughly the same time. Throughout the weekend you’ll discover how Opportunity is implementing cutting edge solutions, including technology, to meet the diverse and pressing needs of our global clients. Along the way, we’ll be asking the question: What can Opportunity learn from the practices and trends established by some of the world’s most innovative companies?
“To tackle the kind of problems we’re examining this weekend, we need to embrace innovation from all corners-–from our clients, from Silicon Valley, and through partnerships with government, corporations and foundations.”
Then, Bill introduced the first speaker, Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka, a member of our Board of Directors, who spoke about his life growing up in poverty in the DR Congo, about the impact of Opportunity’s work such as the Banking on Africa initiative, our agricultural finance program, and our grand opening of a bank in DR Congo, and he spoke about how you can make an impact on global poverty.
Highlights from Tshibaka’s Presentation
We either decide that the challenges posed by extreme poverty are too great, even hopeless, and so create as much distance as we can from them. Or we decide that eradicating poverty–even on a massive, global scale–is not only possible, it’s already happening, and choose to be part of the solution.
There are many reasons that people remain in poverty, including the lack of access to capital (even modest amounts), lack of a secure place to save money, and no insurance to protect themselves and loved ones. To get these things, they seek our support, which we have provided to them for 40 years, giving impoverished people access to credit and economic opportunities–and most of all it gives people hope to move beyond poverty.
Since 2001, Opportunity has built 15 formal financial institutions, including seven banks. Our clients now have a secure and effective way to manage their money. And as her small wealth builds up over time, a client can use it to expand her business or handle a crisis. Clients also plan for the future with interest-bearing savings accounts and protect themselves from unforeseen setbacks due to natural disasters, serious illness, or the death of a family member with insurance products, which we now offer in 11 countries, impacting more than three million lives.
We are excited to now offer entrepreneurs in the DRC the financial tools that have changed the lives of our clients in the more than 20 countries we serve. Since January 2011, more than 5,000 clients have received loans from Opportunity DRC. With the help of our staff and loan officers we hope to have over 10,000 loan clients by the end of the year. Very soon we will also be able to offer savings and insurance to the DRC. We have just opened our second branch in Kinshasa, and next year we will open branches in Lubumbashi.
A bit about Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka
Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka served as Opportunity’s president and CEO in 2009-10. He was born and raised in
Democratic Republic of Congo, where he and his family experienced extreme poverty firsthand. He received his
bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business
Administration. until his retirement in December 2007, Kadita was head of the Divisional Risk Management team for the Wholesale & International Banking Division of Lloyds TSB Group plc. Prior to joining TSB at the beginning of 2005, he spent 33 years working around the world in Citibank Operations, Credit/Risk, Financial Institutions, Treasury, Corporate Banking, and Country Management, culminating in his role as head of corporate credit risk for Emerging Markets at Citigroup, overseeing operations in 77 countries. kadita has provided leadership and support to Opportunity since 2003 and joined the Board of Directors in 2008.
This session was streamed live at opportunity.org/live. Visit opportunity.org/live throughout the conference to watch it live.