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Opportunity International Kicks Off Tanzania Correspondent Contest

Winner will travel to the East African nation to document the Impact microfinance on women; Contest entry period officially began on April 13 and runs through May 11.

Oak Brook, IL., April 15, 2011 – In celebration of its “Banking on Women” campaign, Opportunity International, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to savings accounts, small business loans and financial services to people working their way out of poverty in the developing world, today launched its Tanzania Correspondent Contest.

The first-place winner of the Tanzania Correspondent Contest will travel to the United Republic of Tanzania with Opportunity International’s Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO). There, the contest winner will use his or her creative writing skills, photography know-how and/or video production expertise to help the non-profit tell the story of how women in the East African nation can become leaders and change agents within their communities, when given access to small business loans and other financial services.

“We are excited to launch our first Correspondent contest, which will give one lucky individual the chance to witness first-hand, the incredible impact that access to financial services can have on women, their families, and their communities,” said Jennifer Mitrenga, senior vice president for Opportunity International. “It is our hope that by engaging folks in the contest, that we will create greater awareness of the correlation between financial inclusion and women’s empowerment.”

For impoverished women, secure banking services have remained largely out of reach due to a lack of proper identification required to open a bank account. For many, an Opportunity International bank card is their first step toward establishing formal identification. To give women in the developing world safe, secure access to banking services, Opportunity deploys cutting-edge technologies such as smart cards and biometric fingerprint readers. With biometric fingerprint technology, Opportunity is able to ensure that no one else, not even her spouse or his relatives, can take money out of her account. To access her savings, a client simply inserts the card and presses her finger to the screen. Greater control over her family’s resources can lead to expanded economic opportunities and a stronger voice in family and community matters.

About the "Banking on Women" campaign

Opportunity International's "Banking on Women" campaign is designed to build awareness of the impact that access to savings accounts and small business loans has on the lives of women living in extreme poverty, The campaign includes a combination of offline and online engagement, education and fundraising initiatives. To learn more about the "Banking on Women" campaign, and take action, please visit http://www.opportunity.org/change.

About the Tanzania Correspondent Contest

Opportunity International’s Tanzania Correspondent contest is open to all U.S. residents, aged 21 and older. The contest entry period is from Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 3:01 p.m. (CT) to Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. (CT). Contestants can enter by visiting http://www.facebook.com/opportunityintl and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the essay entry form.

Submitted entries will need to include a 100 words, or less, essay explaining what the contestant hopes to learn from Opportunity’s clients, if the contestant were to travel on the Opportunity International Insight Trip. The essay should also address how the contestant would use story-telling skills, such as photography, video production, and creative writing, to document the impact that Opportunity’s programs and services are making on the women of Tanzania.

Ten runners-up in the contest will be announced on May 13, 2011. Runners-up will be notified by e-mail within 24 hours of their selection. Between 12:01 a.m. CT on May 14, 2011 and 11:59 p.m. (CT) on May 25, 2011 , the public will vote to determine the contest winner, online at http://www.opportunity.org/contest.

The three contest entries with the most votes will be announced as winners on the Opportunity International website within 24 hours of the contest’s conclusion. Winners will also be notified by e-mail within 24 hours of the voting deadline with corresponding details for first, second or third-place, respectively.

The first place winner will visit Opportunity International’s operations in Tanzania during the organization’s YAO Insight Trip that is scheduled for July 31, 2011 - August 6, 2011. The prize includes roundtrip coach airfare, hotel, ground transportation in Tanzania, all meals, translator services, emergency evacuation insurance, and partner and staff costs. The second place winner will receive two tickets and hotel for Opportunity International’s Microfinance Conference, scheduled for October 14-15, 2011 in San Francisco. The third-place winner will receive a $100 Opportunity International gift card, which they can then use to fund a small business loan for one of the organization’s clients, by visiting http://www.opportunity.org/contest.

Official contest rules are available at http://www.opportunity.org/contest.

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.

About Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO)

YAO, an initiative of Opportunity International, is a network of young professionals (ages 20-35) who aim to inspire, educate and involve others in microfinance and Opportunity’s work in implementing this sustainable solution to global poverty. YAO welcomes people of all levels of familiarity with microfinance and of all faith backgrounds. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org/yao.

Jennifer Anaya
iD8 Marketing/Opportunity International
[email protected]

Christina Koliopoulos
VP of Communications 
[email protected]

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