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A "Smart" Approach to Protecting Families in Poverty

By Heather Kaczrowski

Jose Sanchez, like so many parents around the world, worries about his kids. Each day, he gets up early to operate his food cart in the local marketplace, earning as much as he can to provide his children with a better life.

No family should be too poor to feel safe. Yet, when parents like Jose have less than $2 a day to live off of, each moment is filled with insecurities. For Jose, it was not knowing when he could feed his children next, or how he’d afford medical care if they got sick. And, living in dangerous neighborhood in Cartagena, Colombia, Jose worried each night he put them to bed in a home without a full roof or a secure door. Among his many worries, one of the deepest was ‘What will happen to my $2 if I put it in a bank?’

Trusting a banking institution with your hard-earned income is the first step in accessing financial services, which are critical for helping families lift themselves out of poverty. After Jose began banking with Opportunity International, he was able to secure loans to grow his ceviche business and make much-needed improvements to his home. With a savings account, he’s able to safely store money to use for future expenses, like his children’s school fees.

Clients like Jose are the heart of what we do. They’re also the reason why Opportunity is leading the charge to drive the widespread adoption of responsible microfinance practices that put client protection and welfare above all else.

Opportunity is currently working to achieve Smart Certification for its microfinance institutions, which is an independent, objective seal of confidence that we are doing everything we can to provide our clients with exceptional service and protect them from harm.

This confirms that our institutions:

  • operate transparently
  • protect the privacy of our client data
  • ensure clients have methods to address and resolve issues
  • offer pricing and products that are designed to prevent over-indebtedness and effectively support clients on their journeys out of poverty

To date, only 59 MFIs worldwide are certified, three of which are Opportunity institutions. We’re in the process of adding four more institutions to the list, including Opportunity Colombia, which is expected to finalize its certification by the end of 2016. The Opportunity International Network is also a signatory to the Smart Campaign, demonstrating our steadfast, global commitment to the campaign’s Client Protection Principles.

We are proud to provide our clients with the highest level of confidence that our services are designed to protect and support them, and give them the tools to build a brighter and better future.

Donate today to help Opportunity protect more clients like Jose.

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