Opportunity International partners with financial institutions around the world to deliver loans and savings accounts to people living in poverty. Combining a robust network of local partners and staff, industry-leading expertise, and international philanthropic support, we leverage capital and provide resources to support those living in poverty. In addition, we provide training to clients, many of whom are accessing financial services for the first time.
We work with best-in-class institutions, partnering with financial institutions that have demonstrated a measurable commitment to client protection. As of August 2017, less than one percent of the 10,000 global microfinance institutions had received Smart Certification, a designation noting an extremely high standard of best practices in microfinance. Of the 80 certified institutions, six are Opportunity International partners.
Micro and Group Loans
Microloans provide small-scale entrepreneurs the financial resources they need to build their businesses, support their families, and send their children to school.
Opportunity International clients often receive their first loan through a Trust Group, a group of 10 to 30 entrepreneurs who ensure the risk of one another's loans. They meet on a regular basis to receive training, make payments, and manage their collective resources.
Micro and group loans help entrepreneurs increase their earnings and equip families to provide for themselves. As clients invest their loans into their businesses—purchasing supplies, inputs, machinery, or inventory— they are able to grow their operations, increase their sales, and improve their livelihoods.
Anjali loves to help others in her community. She runs a small shop outside of the school near her home, selling snacks to students when they finish their classes for the day. Over the years, Anjali has used six small loans from Opportunity International to invest in supplies for her shop, allowing her to fill her shelves, diversify the products she offers, and expand her inventory. Now, Anjali is helping her neighbors. She loves to volunteer, is passionate about female empowerment, and believes that she can make a difference in her community.
Opportunity International also works with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), equipping them with loans so they can expand operations, create additional jobs, and employ more people. These larger loans are often invested to develop infrastructure, build capacity, and purchase inputs and supplies in bulk.
Not everyone living in extreme poverty is an entrepreneur, so SME loans enable larger businesses to catalyze job opportunities for those who might not start a business on their own. It's another way to create sustainable livelihoods, enable people to provide for themselves, and help families thrive.
Fifteen years ago, Albert Oppona Pepiah started a small chicken feed shop in the center of Kumasi, Ghana. Ten years ago, he began working with Opportunity International to invest in his business, and two years ago, he moved his shop to be centrally located in a community where there are many chicken farmers.
Over the years, Albert’s business has grown from a small shop to a booming enterprise. He now employs 25 people in his community, has a large production and warehouse facility, and is invested in the leadership development of his staff. “I need to make sure the business can go on without me,” he says. “I am the boss, but only for now.” He also has big dreams for the future: “I don’t want to get complacent. I’m just getting started.” He wants to create and produce his own chicken feed, offer more supplies to his customers, and eventually expand to new regions.
Savings accounts serve as a critical mechanism for building economic independence and planning for the future. But for many families living in extreme poverty, formal bank accounts have remained out of reach. They are left with unsatisfactory alternatives: paying high fees to savings collectors or hiding money around the house, leaving it vulnerable to theft.
Opportunity International developed a range of small-scale savings products that rely on flexible minimum deposits, interest rates, and account terms. Now, millions of families are able to keep their money secure, build a safety net, and make plans for the future.
Leila Kaku is a farmer in Ghana, growing peanuts, maize, and sorghum as part of a farming cooperative. As a child, she had only made it to kindergarten before her family's funds ran out and they could no longer afford school fees. Instead, she began farming — and has been doing it ever since. When she started working with Opportunity International, she had no idea that she was supposed to save for the future, having spent her whole life simply trying to survive.
"At first, I didn't know that when we farm, we are meant to save part of our money," Leila said. "We were taught how to get into the habit of saving. Now we all contribute. I am saving for my own children and my siblings. I am the oldest and must support them." Leila uses her savings to pay her own children's school fees, ensuring that they can stay in school and complete their educations.