Promod and Dorcas Haque understand firsthand how an opportunity can change one’s life. As the daughter of missionary American parents, Dorcas spent her formative childhood years in rural, northwest Congo. While she and her siblings had the opportunity to pursue tertiary education and a sustainable career, many of her neighbors did not. For Promod, after graduating from university in India and accepted to Northwestern University for a master’s degree, he was denied scholarship or financial aid. Desperately eager to take advantage of this opportunity, his only option was to ask his parents for a loan. That sacrifice on behalf of his parents propelled Promod to where he is today, a venture capitalist with Norwest Venture Partners and an influential philanthropist. Since receiving that opportunity, Promod and Dorcas have paid it forward multiple times over by investing in others.
The Haques have been supporters of Opportunity International for over 25 years. Recently, Promod was an integral part of hosting and presenting at a Bay Area virtual event to benefit rural farmers in Africa. The event featured business owner, humanitarian and supermodel Kathy Ireland; CEO of Driscoll Ventures Dame Sheila Driscoll, Opportunity’s Chief Executive Officer Atul Tandon, and Opportunity’s Vice President of Philanthropy Lillian Covington.
During his presentation, Promod recalled a pivotal experience from an Insight Trip to Uganda with his family, where they visited a widow who was only able to provide for her children because she had received the "hand up" of an Opportunity loan. “I have a picture of that, that I keep in my office to remind myself that this is what we should do to help the poor. That is what all of us should do, irrespective of our faith: help the poor, give them an opportunity that will help them take care of their family, and be able to make a living.”
While the virtual benefit was primarily focused on agriculture in Africa, it touched on related issues such as supporting women in business and education. “With very limited formal education, the only option my mother really had was self-employment,” notes Lillian Covington. “So, she borrowed from neighbors to start a small business. She had the courage to break free from poverty because she had the appetite, a great appetite we all have, to provide a better life for her children. My mom’s story demonstrates what is possible when a poor person is given a chance.”
As Kathy Ireland stated so eloquently during the event, “Rather than giving handouts that are not sustainable, that create a dependency, [Opportunity] breaks cycles and chains of poverty. It’s a fantastic investment, and it’s something that all of us can do.” Increasing awareness, hosting events, and educating others are ways we can all help those in need.
The simplicity of Kathy’s statement rang true; the event drew 140 attendees and raised nearly $500,000. Even though the event was held online, Governors connected through the Chat function and shared with each other why they support Opportunity and which parts of the mission matter to them most.
We are grateful for the San Francisco Bay Area community for empowering families living in poverty, especially during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.