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Opportunity International Honors Pioneering Work in Expanding Access for Women

Women’s Leadership Awards Presented at D.C. Event

Oak Brook, Ill., (Nov. 10, 2009) — The Women’s Opportunity Network (WON) of Opportunity International honored Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative and a Ugandan staff member with International Women’s Leadership Awards at a special evening event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Nov. 7. The awards recognize people and organizations whose humanitarian contributions reflect the values and vision of Opportunity’s work to provide financial services that help people work their way out of poverty in the developing world.

“We applaud Goldman Sachs for its innovative program to provide 10,000 underserved women around the world with a business and management education that fosters greater shared economic growth,” said Ruth-Anne Renaud, vice president, women’s philanthropy, Opportunity International.

Opportunity has partnered with Goldman Sachs to create the 10,000 Women “Emerging Leaders Program,” which will give hundreds of promising young women in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique the opportunity to train for careers in management at Opportunity and other financial institutions serving the poor in Africa.

“We are deeply honored to receive the International Women’s Leadership Award for our 10,000 Women initiative. Last year, Goldman Sachs chose to make its single largest philanthropic investment in the empowerment of women, and we can already see that it is one of the smartest investments we have ever made,” said Kim Azzarelli, vice president, Office of Corporate Engagement, Goldman Sachs. “We are particularly proud of our work with Opportunity International to provide education and job placement opportunities that advance the status of women in the financial services sector, particularly in institutions focused on serving the poor.”

WON also recognized Opportunity Uganda leader Teddy Ajiku for more than 10 years of service to thousands of clients. For women in Uganda, as in many developing countries, hardships are not only financial; they struggle for access to education, employment and property rights. It is within this very challenging culture that Ajiku has served as a loan officer, loan supervisor, branch manager and now international education liaison between Opportunity’s Ugandan and U.S. operations. Before coming to Opportunity, she gained experience in high-profile commercial banks including Barclays, Standard Chartered and Umeme Uganda, Ltd.

“The Women’s Opportunity Network is proud to present the International Women’s Leadership Award not only to Teddy Ajiku, but to the many dedicated women staff and leaders in the field worldwide who bring hope to the poor on a daily basis,” Renaud said. “As research and experience continue to show, education and microfinance empower women, increase their self-esteem and enable them to make choices that improve their lives, the lives of their children and their communities.”

Speakers at the event, which was held at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, included: Lea Thompson, former chief correspondent, “NBC News” and “Dateline,” who served as the master of ceremonies; Vicki Gifford Kennedy, a member of WON and Opportunity’s Board of Governors; and Kadita “A.T.” Tshibaka, president and CEO, Opportunity International.

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