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Opportunity International’s CGI Commitment Provides Tuition Savings Accounts and School Fee Loans for Children Living in Poverty

Program also provides loans to start and expand schools in the developing world

Oak Brook, Ill., (Sept. 23, 2009) — At the Clinton Global Initiative’s Fifth Annual Meeting today, Opportunity International announced the expansion of its Banking on Education program that offers tuition savings accounts and school fee loans to help make education affordable for parents of school-age children in the developing world. Opportunity will expand its education finance program, currently in five countries, to five additional countries over the next 24 months to provide loans for entrepreneurs who wish to start or expand private schools for children in impoverished neighborhoods.

Opportunity International CEO Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka with President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York on Sept. 24, 2009 “The Banking on Education program helps parents living in poverty achieve the dreams they have for their children,” said Opportunity CEO Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka. “Schools do more than teach. They create jobs, spur economic activity and strengthen a community’s spirit. Opportunity is one of the first microfinance institutions to create tailored products that help parents afford a quality education for their children and help school proprietors improve their services and infrastructure.”
People living in poverty are often excluded from banking services that would help them build savings to have cash available when school fees are due or get a loan to finance their children’s education. Opportunity is piloting specialized, interest-bearing savings accounts in Malawi that allow families to save money in a secure place for their child’s schooling. These accounts also guarantee a child’s assets if they lose their guardians. In addition, Opportunity offers school fee loans that enable parents to pay school fees over a period that is compatible with their cash flow. The pilot program at Opportunity Uganda currently provides almost 4,800 school fee loans, ranging between $22 and $214 and payable in four-month terms.

Currently, Opportunity invests in over 200 private schools, with loans ranging from $500 to $25,000 for terms of two to five years. Proprietors use the loans to hire qualified teachers, improve infrastructures, expand classrooms, provide nutritious meals and purchase educational technology.

To help the schools succeed and become sustainable, Opportunity will offer tailored training and business advice on such topics as record keeping, finance and accounting methods, and compiling legal documentation. The microfinance organization is seeking partners to provide technology and training to help school proprietors become sustainable and improve their educational services.

Opportunity International has embarked on a $10 million campaign to finance the expansion of the Banking on Education initiative. With $4 million raised to date, Opportunity is well on its way to providing increased educational opportunities to over 250,000 impoverished children by 2012.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 100 current and former heads of state, 14 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 1,400 commitments valued at $46 billion, which have already improved the lives of 200 million people in 150 countries. The CGI community also includes CGI University (CGI U), a forum to engage college students in global citizenship; and MyCommitment.org, an online portal where anybody can make their own Commitment to Action. CGI will hold its Fifth Annual Meeting September 22-25, 2009, in New York City. For more information, visit www.clintonfoundation.org/clinton-global-initiative.

About Opportunity International

Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org or join the conversation at http://facebook.com/opportunityintl and http://twitter.com/opportunityintl.

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