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News Blog

Serving the People of Malawi with a New Satellite Bank Branch

by Opportunity International

Exciting news from Malawi… Opportunity Malawi has now opened a satellite bank branch in Ndirande Township, an informal settlement located three miles south of Blantyre and six miles from Limbe, and the largest community in the Blantyre area. The roads in the densely populated township are unpaved and the central marketplace is crowded with the precariously perched stalls of entrepreneurs selling their wares.  Though the main branch of Opportunity Malawi is in Blantyre, many of its clients live…

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YAO Insight Trip Participants Reflect on the Microfinance Clients of Tanzania

by Opportunity International

In September 2009, 21 people traveled on a nine-day YAO Insight Trip to Tanzania. The diverse group included students, business-owners, financiers, and other globally-minded young people interested in seeing microfinance at work in Tanzania. Now, in honor of Opportunity International‘s launch of Tanzanian clients on OptINnow, in the first of a series of blog posts, YAO members reflect back on the people they met and the experiences they had while on their Insight Trip. Read their reflections below,…

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Meeting My First Opportunity Tanzania Microfinance Clients

by AJ Renold

I went to interview my first Opportunity Tanzania clients today! They are part of the Neema Trust Group and are from a Dar Es Salaam neighborhood near the Ilala branch called Mburahati. Going to meet them and their Trust Group was not the only exciting experience of the day. As the rainy season is just beginning here in Tanzania, it was an absolute downpour when we left the branch office. This was the first major rain I have experienced since arriving in Dar and it was unbelievable to see sand…

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Why should you attend the Chicago Microfinance Conference next year?

by Emily Riemer

This year, five of us from Opportunity International attended the 6th Annual Chicago Microfinance Conference at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Alongside other microfinance professionals, as well as educators, graduate and undergraduate students, we delved deep into the topics and discussed the ever-evolving microfinance industry. But there’s still more to cover. The topics of panels were fascinating, but experts are learning more and more all the time about how microfinance…

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Will Microfinance Institutions Ever Be an Asset Class on Wall Street?

by Eric Meyer

Last Friday at the Chicago Microfinance Conference, a group of investors explored the issue of microfinance investments and capital markets in a session entitled “Microfinance and Wall Street: Will MFIs ever be an Asset Class?” The conversation revolved around two primary questions: has the perception of institutional investors changed with the financial crisis, and would MFIs be able to absorb the resources that would be available if microfinance gained popularity among these investors? The…

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The Work of Trust Groups in Uganda

by Alexandra Arch

The focus of today centered on a truly exciting concept that I was looking forward to seeing in action: Opportunity International Trust Groups — the lending of money to business people in groups. Our bus pulls up to a bustling market mid-morning where the action, like the sun, is just beginning to heat up on the outskirts of Kampala. Navigating the tight market arterials, the group snakes through the jumbled stalls, jumping this watery crevasse and dodging that clucking chicken, making sure to…

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Does Microfinance Work? Does Microfinance Fight Poverty?

by Rob Moll

The story of microfinance has always been compelling in its simplicity: A poor entrepreneur receives a loan. The loan enables her to purchase equipment or goods. She is then able to sell or increase sales of homemade clothes or fresh fruit. The new or increased sales bring in more income which she uses to pay back the loan, feed her children, and put them through school. The experience is repeated and the business grows and family fortunes improve. The cycle of poverty is broken. This story is true,…

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Ambassador Melanne Verveer Discusses the Global Roles of Women

by Emily Riemer

Welcome to the 21st-century reality: empowering women in the developing world alleviates poverty and grows economies. Gender equality equals smart economic progress. On Tuesday, May 4, Ambassador Melanne Verveer addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about the importance of women’s roles in global economic growth. In the discussion entitled “Investing in Women, Enriching the World,” she examined the Obama administration’s stance on women and girls as a critical U.S. foreign policy…

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Some settling may have occurred. Please shake well…

by Alexandra Arch

I suspect that few things can shake the senses — the soul really — like traveling. More specifically, traveling to Africa. A first-timer to Africa, I have landed in Kampala, Uganda.   Drawing on my experiences in other exotic venues, I am no stranger to the daily trappings of life: the sheer multitudes of people, the chaos that some call streets, the assault of the senses leaving it hard to blink, the colors and beauty of women’s stature and clothing, the wily animals running amuck, the action…

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Bringing It All Home: The Challenges of Microfinance in the US

by Emily Riemer

At the Chicago Microfinance Conference last Friday (at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business), a panel of experts from four domestic microfinance organizations discussed the ongoing challenges of offering financial solutions to underserved individuals in the United States. The panel “Microfinance in the US: Where Are We Now and How Far Can We Go?” was moderated by Robert Spich of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The panelists explained their organizations’ unique challenges…

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