Our team has been on the move in these first weeks of 2020! We’ve been lucky enough to travel domestically and around the world to share and improve our work while meeting with staff, supporters, and clients. Here are some highlights from the beginning of 2020:
TRACKING INNOVATIONS IN GHANA
Research and Knowledge Coordinator Abbie Condie worked with staff in Kumasi, Ghana, to set up a system to monitor improvements to bathroom facilities and water access at low-cost private schools. Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans (SASL) is currently partnering with Opportunity International to pilot a new project which equips school leaders, staff, and students with information about the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation in a school setting. It also connects school leaders to financing so they can carry out important facility upgrades, such as upgrading latrines to flush toilets or installing sinks near bathroom facilities. Monitoring is a critical part of ensuring Opportunity projects stay on track, deliver against donor expectations, and work toward positive impact on our clients.
WITNESSING BEAUTY AND HOPE
Opportunity Philanthropy Manager Sheila Ross traveled to Uganda with supporters to meet our clients and see the impact of our work. After returning from her visit, Sheila reflected on her time in Uganda, expressing how she is struck by the contrast in her photos.
"I catch myself feeling pity and despair at their living condition. But as I move in closer, I begin to observe their lives in finer detail and I see a community hard at work, a mother bathing her baby, a grandmother preparing food over an open fire, children playing and laughing. It is not the life we know and yet it is equally beautiful and worthy and hopeful."
Sheila is challenging herself to zoom in on the individual story—the faces of Opportunity. Individuals like Julius, an electrical engineer and one of the founding members of Akuwa Gwowa Trust Group, which means “you give to one who gives to you.” Julius, through loans from Opportunity, has invested in property nearby and local construction. Julius explained that “Opportunity has changed my life.”
Stories like Julius’ deserve to be told. They have a right to lead a life with dignity and purpose; sometimes they just need a hand up to get them there
Are you interested in hearing from Opportunity clients firsthand? For the full list of 2020 Insight Trips, visit opportunity.org/insight.
REPRESENTING WOMEN AND TECHNOLOGY AT WOMEN IN CLOUD
In January, Simona Haiduc, Opportunity’s Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships, spoke to other industry leaders from the Women in Cloud Summit in Seattle. The panel discussed how artificial intelligence is helping achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Simona discussed the impact of technology on a personal level, which is a core tenet of Opportunity’s high-touch, high-tech philosophy. She highlighted Bindu, a broom-maker in Kerala, India, who has been able to grow her business, hire nine employees, and send her kids to school. After extreme flooding hit Bindu’s community, digital data and analytics sped up the delivery of emergency loans. She referenced the critical role that technology plays when bridging the gap between a life in extreme poverty and a life where someone can provide for their family and build a new future for themselves.
Moderated by George Sifakis, Global Chairman and CEO of Ideagen, other panelists included BJ Moore, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Providence St. Joseph Health, and Gretchen O’Hara, Vice President of Microsoft Corporation. It was an honor to join such a driven group of individuals focusing their talent on positive impact around the world.
CHANGING LIVES WITH CABI
Last month Atul took the stage in front of nearly 3,000 cabi Stylists at their bi-annual company event called “Scoop.” This year, the clothing company’s Heart of cabi Foundation put the spotlight on their domestic and international initiatives, which Opportunity has been proud to be a part of for 12 years. This partnership has been more than financial: cabi has dedicated their time, attention, and enthusiasm. They have traveled to Rwanda on several occasions, meeting our clients, sitting in their homes, learning from their businesses, and dancing with their children at school. In fact, if you’re a guest at a cabi clothing party anytime soon, you’ll have a chance to hear about how rounding up your order total can help improve a child’s education in Rwanda. Atul shared the deep and lasting impact that their new focus on quality education will have for children in Rwanda—a change that will pave the way for generations to come.