I was particularly pleased yesterday morning to see the 2015 Gates Annual Letter, published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighting breakthroughs in farming and mobile banking as two things poised to change the world over the next several years. Two of Opportunity International’s major initiatives in recent years have focused on agriculture, including helping African farmers increase their crop yields to feed more people, and technology, including launching and expanding our mobile banking program in Malawi and Philippines and other areas.
In their letter, Bill and Melinda go on record with their “Big Bet” that “the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history." They, like us, believe that innovations in farming could help African farmers increase their crop yields by nearly 50 percent and that "by growing more varied and nutritious food and getting it to the people who need it at the right time, Africa can achieve food security by 2030." I invite you to discover more about our agriculture program here.
The Gates Letter also discusses the positive impact of cell phone banking on the lives of the poor who, for the first time, will have "more control over their assets and help them transform their lives." The letter goes on to say, "By 2030, 2 billion people who don't have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance." Opportunity International is already providing a full range of financial services to millions of clients in 22 countries and we're continuing to expand our reach to more people in need. Discover more about our branchless banking program here.
Agriculture assistance and mobile money are two of the most effective ways we've helped our clients break the cycle of poverty, transform their lives and strengthen their families and communities. I'm thrilled the Gates Foundation has brought critical attention to the importance of these initiatives in helping the world's poor. The Gates Letter also discusses breakthroughs in software as another ways the poor will be helped in coming years. You can read the full letter here.
I'll continue to keep you up to date on our progress in agriculture, banking and other initiatives we have underway to transform lives. In the interim, thank you for your continued support of Opportunity International.
Vicki Escarra Global CEO, Opportunity International