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Staff Spotlight: Lucy Kabalisa

By Joe Dutra

With over two decades of banking experience, Lucy Kabalisa understands the power of finance. As Opportunity’s Education Finance Technical Assistance advisor in Zambia, she brings that expertise directly to low-cost private schools—using data analysis, performance monitoring, and reporting to help school leaders access the resources needed to serve even more children.

But Lucy believes the essence of this work goes beyond just numbers and balance sheets—it's about transforming lives and unlocking potential. To her, business and finance are simply means to help people rise from humble beginnings and grow into community leaders.

“More than anything, I'm a performance coach,” Lucy said. “I delight in providing personalized support to the schools that prepare Zambia’s children to become future leaders.”  

Financial institutions have historically been risk-averse, making it difficult to lend to low-cost private schools around the globe. Small schools have relatively low margins and are often launched by individuals who are more attuned to growing minds than bank accounts. But to succeed, these low-cost private school owners must be more than educators—they also need to be marketers, business developers, and entrepreneurs.

Lucy’s job is to develop the systems that help these educators achieve success in these areas. She supportschools by conducting market research, developing systems to monitor performance, and analyzing data. In the end, she helps build credibility with potential funders and financial institutions, giving teachers and school owners the capacity and freedom to do what they do best: educate.

“I think like a banker—and bankers need data to make decisions. I am the translator between schools and banks, organizing the data that financial institutions need to make an informed decision to join us in the mission to support the children of their community.” 

Lucy’s ability to translate that hard work into impact is integral to building support, and has compounded investments dramatically over the years. Just one good lesson—one good plan—has the ability to impact not just a community, but the entire country.

“At the onset of my work here in Zambia, I brought leaders from a bank to one of my school leadership workshops, where they saw how we could help school owners become true entrepreneurs. That bank invested in 8 additional districts across Zambia.”

That success has compounded over the years, building a pipeline of schools, financial institutions, and students. Financial institutions are beginning to see private education differently, and banks across Zambia are demonstrating a renewed dedication to children by investing in these educational opportunities.

With that renewed dedication from the financial sector, Lucy sees a pathway to ending extreme poverty in Zambia and across Africa. Through training and support, Lucy and the EduFinance team are helping unlock potential, educate young people, and break the cycle of generational poverty—for good.

“I find real success is measured by a shift in mindsets. A loan for a parent to send their child to school can change the trajectory of that child. A loan that helps a school expand or excel can transform the trajectory of an entire community. We need financial institutions to believe in this transformation, and we won’t stop until every child has access to quality education.” 

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