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Women THRIVE: India, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Ghana


Opportunity International and PayPal are implementing the Women THRIVE Program in India, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Ghana, addressing the systemic barriers facing women in underserved communities. The program empowers women to be agents of change within their communities by supporting women-owned businesses to access capital, capacity building, and digital innovations. The program will empower women to run effective SMBs, enabling them to increase incomes, improve their agency, and stimulate inclusive economic growth. 

Ultimately, our overall goal for the Women THRIVE program is to boost prosperity in India, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Ghana by increasing women’s participation in the local and regional economies and accelerating the growth of SMBs that prioritize creating opportunities for women.

  • Project Duration: 
  • Geographic Focus: India, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Ghana
  • Partners: PayPal, Opportunity International

The Challenge

Women in the target geographies are:

  1. financially excluded and do not meet criteria for finance due to lack of access to collateral (such as property titles, savings)
  2. lack access to best-in-class business management training, markets and business networks
  3. constrained by patriarchal biases limiting their agency, ability to access financial services, and control their incomes and assets.

Women in rural areas face steep challenges in achieving financial inclusion and economic empowerment. In rural geographies, banking often involves traveling long distances to the nearest branch, poor customer service, and conservative gender norms which intensify these challenges. 

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. In partnership with PayPal, we are:

  • Developing credit support mechanisms that lower the cost of financing for W-SMBs and qualify more women for finance (e.g. collateral substitutions and interest buy-downs).
  • Digitizing village saving and loans associations/savings groups processes and link them to formal financial service providers. This generates and collects data on the financial lives of the micro entrepreneurs (i.e. how much, when and how they save and access the loans) which results in opportunities to introduce alternative credit scoring, inject additional capital into the savings groups when needed and qualify more women for finance.
  • Adopting 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.
  • Developing key performance indicators and incentive schemes for bank staff to deliver finance to women.
  • Collecting and analyzing gender-disaggregated data to inform evidence-based financial product and services development and track the effectiveness of efforts to address barriers faced by women.

Build women’s capacity through digital training solutions and increase women’s access to markets and networks. Opportunity is providing last-mile delivery to the most relevant and best quality content available and build women’s business and financial management capacity through:

Empowering Women as Agents of Change

Opportunity and our Indian partner Centre for Development Orientation and Training (CDOT) will train women as BC agents by establishing in-person and online methods in new geographies to provide trainings and BC certification to women. We will deploy a platform which includes presentations and short videos designed to meet the requirements of the BC certification exam for apprentices to become legally certified by BCFI (Business Correspondent Federation of India) to operate as BC Agents.

Our female BC agents have been shown to serve 55% women, compared to male BC agents who served only 5% women. BC agents also serve as role models to others in the community, and provide financial advice, empowering marginalized populations with access to knowledge, tools, and resources. Empowering women to fulfil this role is a powerful way to address the conditions of systems change for women’s economic empowerment.

High-Impact Sector Capacity Building

Opportunity will provide training in sectors proven to be of high impact toward women economic empowerment in target geographies, specifically, operators of low-cost private schools and women-run SMBs. Low-cost private school borrowers will be enrolled in our EduQuality program, a three-year holistic training program designed to equip school leaders to run sustainable schools and increase the quality of education over time. Opportunity’s Pathways to Excellence school development training for school proprietors and teacher trainings provides dynamic, interactive professional development sessions to school leaders and teachers. By working to help schools provide an enabling learning environment and strong, child-centered instruction, we improve sustainability of education enterprises, enabling more girls to access quality education. We will also provide SMBs with capacity building training, including financial management and entrepreneurship training.

Improve access to markets and networks through digital innovations. Opportunity combines its existing training materials and expertise to develop targeted trainings and a relevant Market Hub that will meet women in channels they commonly use (i.e. WhatsApp) to provide engaging training, market linkages, and access to market information (i.e. price discovery, inputs, supplies etc). These platforms are tailored to SMB owners in local contexts and engage women through video, audio, Interactive Voice Response, SMS and in person sessions.

Opportunity will also scale up a successful pilot involving a Savings Group Digital Ledger comprising an app and platform to be deployed together with technical assistance targeting VSLA groups, improving access to finance for women in rural geographies. This training program and app reduces the time required for group meetings, builds trust among group members, and offers data for credit worthiness to support credit requests to financial service providers. This will facilitate linkage to formal financial institutions, leveraging the data store to empower the VSLAs to better understand their operations and empower them to engage with market actors to support their economic activities. The training program will strengthen both the supply of and demand for formal financial services for marginalized and financially excluded groups and households.


  • Increased financial inclusion (access to a full range of financial services) and access to capital (loans) to SMBs addressing the unique challenges women face.
  • Sustained and increased employment, both self- and formal employment.
  • Increased financial products and capacity building resources, including digital skill trainings, to address barriers affecting women’s participation.
  • Improved financial health measured through women financial inclusion - access to a full range of financial services (loans, savings, insurance) and increased assets (primarily savings).
  • Improved decision-making and control of income and assets.

Project Details 


Women's Economic Empowerment





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