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© 2019 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

Turning a house into a home in Barranquilla, ColombiaDenis Alvarez Moreao

Ask Denis about how most people in her community access capital, and she’ll tell you about the local money lenders. The men who charge 20% interest a month and who aren’t afraid to physically hurt you if you are late on your payments. She’ll speak of them with a mixture of disdain and fear – and a heavy dose of gratitude that she has another option. 

Denis serves as the president of her Trust Group – named Girasoles (sunflowers) – and leads 21 other women in accessing safe, fair loans from Opportunity International to grow their businesses. Denis has used her own loans to grow her small general store on wheels – a cart that she takes around the neighborhood selling snacks, drinks and small supplies. At home, she lives alone – most of her kids are grown and living on their own, and her youngest lives with his dad. 

She has been in this house for 23 years, when she arrived to the community with her aunt. Since then, she has worked to turn her house into a home. It used to be dusty and dirty, causing health problems for the family. Denis made some initial improvements herself, and then learned about Opportunity’s roof and floor loans. 

Roof and floor loans empower Opportunity clients in Colombia to take additional loans specifically for home improvements. Clients meet with local university architecture students to plan out the construction – always prioritizing changes that will improve the health and safety of the home. This means that typical projects include kitchens, bathrooms, floors, roofs and walls – structural improvements that make the house more stable and sanitary. Denis’s first project was her kitchen. Now, the space is large, tiled and separate from the rest of the home. Next, she wants to take a loan to improve the bathroom, and then one to tile the floor. She is just getting started! 

Denis speaks highly of Opportunity saying, “I love working with you.” And beyond the obvious financial and physical benefits of working with Opportunity, so much of what Denis has learned has been personal. She says that she is less impulsive now, and feels trained and educated. She appreciates having a leadership position in her group, which has empowered her to be a well-respected leader in her community. And she loves that she is always learning something new. For Denis, Opportunity has been a true partner – helping her reach her dreams for her business, her home and her family.

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