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50 for 50: 7 Facts about our progress out of poverty

By Opportunity International

Opportunity International has spent 50 years learning what clients need to break the cycle of poverty. Through innovative solutions that help families build sustainable livelihoods, farmers improve their yields, and children go to school, we have been part of a global movement to reduce extreme poverty—a movement that has seen remarkable progress since our founding in 1971.

This weekend as we celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we are looking back at just how far we’ve come, together.

Opportunity works alongside countless organizations, partners, and families to move the needle on extreme poverty. We have invested in hard-working people and watched as they have changed the trajectory of their futures. At our founding, 1.77 billion people lived on less than $1.90/day. Today, that number is less than 700 million.

Simultaneously, our global population has grown—so the scale of this progress is even more incredible. When Opportunity International began operations in 1971, nearly half of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today, that number is only 9%.

As extreme poverty rates fall, literacy rates rise. When individuals have access to financial and educational tools, their lives improve. With a disproportionate amount (25%) of Opportunity’s clients facing illiteracy today, we remain dedicated to designing tailored solutions to make sure they can still access financial tools, while improving the quality of education available to children today.

As more and more people have access to electricity, children are better able to study at night and thus perform better in schools, and families are better able to use Opportunity’s digital tools to save money, pay their bills, and manage their accounts.

When families save money, they are more equipped to cover key expenses like medical care. Over the last 30 years, we have seen a 2/3 reduction in the mortality rate for children under 5—a key metric for our progress out of poverty.

Families have been increasingly able to access medical care for their children, including vaccines that help them grow up healthy and strong. This early access to healthcare puts them on a path to break the cycle of poverty once and for all.

Children face better health and education outcomes when their families achieve financial security. Innovative programs like Opportunity’s Education Finance work helps parents access the resources necessary to send their children to good schools and keep them enrolled no matter what financial challenges come their way.

You can be involved in this remarkable progress right now: Give someone an opportunity today.

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