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Women THRIVE: Accelerating the Growth of Women-Owned Enterprises to Create and Sustain Jobs and Increase Assets for Women in Africa


Opportunity International and the Visa Foundation are implementing the Women THRIVE program to accelerate the growth of women-owned small and medium-sized businesses (W-SMBs) in four strategic countries: Uganda, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Nigeria.

The Women THRIVE program will provide women with digitally enabled, specialized capacity building, affordable financing, and access to markets and networks to improve their business outcomes and overcome the unique challenges that women business owners face.

Our overall goal is to boost prosperity in the program communities in Uganda, Ghana, DRC and Nigeria by increasing women’s participation in the local and regional economies and accelerating the growth of W-SMBs.

  • Project Duration: July 2022 – June 2024
  • Geographic Focus: Uganda, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Nigeria
  • Partners: Visa Foundation, Opportunity International

The Challenge

Business women face a number of unique challenges, including:

  1. Lack of access to affordable, formal financing
  2. Lack of digital literacy skills compared to men
  3. Lack of access to best-in-class business management training, markets, and business networks
  4. Limited opportunities and channels to share learnings and best practices on increased women participation

Our Approach

Opportunity is leveraging a combined network of specialized staff (i.e. digital ecosystem experts, and agriculture and education specialists), financial institution (FI) partners, and local networks and organizations to deploy the following program strategies: 

Increase women’s access to capital and financial services. Opportunity is partnering with, training, and incentivizing local FIs and fintechs in the targeted countries to accelerate the rate of deploying capital to W-SMBs or companies that prioritize creating opportunities for women. We anticipate that this program will reach over 27,000 SMBs (target clients), supporting over 32,500 jobs. In partnership with Visa, we are: 

  • Developing credit support mechanisms to lower the cost of financing for W-SMBs and qualify more women for finance (e.g. collateral substitutions and interest buy-downs).
  • Digitizing the credit process (end-to-end) and introduce alternative credit scoring to improve credit processes (see information below).
  • Supporting FIs to adopt gender-sensitive and inclusive banking policies and processes that promote equitable access to finance and banking services to women.
  • Training bank staff on promoting a full range of financial services to women and W-SMBs.
  • Collecting and analyzing gender-disaggregated data to inform evidence- based financial product and services development and tracking the effectiveness of efforts to address barriers faced by women.
  • Developing key performance indicators and incentive schemes for bank staff to deliver finance to women.

Build women’s capacity through digital training solutions and increase women’s access to markets and networks. Led by Opportunity International Digital Financial Services team, Opportunity is providing last-mile delivery to the most relevant and best quality content available and build women’s business and financial management capacity. We are:

  • Leveraging the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades platform where available (e.g., Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria) and assessing outcomes. This platform provides learning opportunities targeting women business owners seeking to export products and make business connections through a web portal. Opportunity already collaborates with SheTrades in Uganda.
  • Combining existing training materials and expertise to provide engaging training, market linkages, and access to market information (i.e. price discovery, inputs, supplies etc).

Document and disseminate learnings on most efficient strategies and digital channels for increased women participation. Opportunity is implementing a robust learning agenda for the program and proactively pursuing leading platforms to promote and co-present these learnings with the Visa Foundation through in-person conferences, events, and a social media dissemination plan.


  • Value of capital released to women-owned or women-led businesses
  • Capital leverage ratio (calculated as philanthropic capital: total loan capital unlocked to serve the program target clients)
  • # of loans disbursed to W-SMBs
  • # of jobs created or sustained
  • # of women trained – on-line and in-person training sessions
  • # of international women network organizations participating in program
  • White paper produced and disseminated on key research topics

Project Details 


Women's Economic Empowerment


Visa Foundation



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Through robust partnerships with organizations, financial institutions, and funders, Opportunity International is implementing a wide range of women's economic empowerment initiatives in communities and countries around the world.

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