Opportunity's New AI Product Featured in Bloomberg

READ NOW
Donate

Menu

Donate


Follow Us

Search


PO Box 2826
Carol Stream, Illinois 60132

Toll Free: 1-800-793-9455

© 2024 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

Microenterprise

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” 

Sustainable Development Goal 1

Opportunity International pioneered microfinancing for those living in extreme poverty, and to this day Opportunity develops innovative financial services, training, and support that help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their businesses, provide for their families, and send their children to school. Today, more than 50 years later, we connect families to the tools and training they need to build bright futures for their families through a comprehensive, high-touch, high-tech approach.

 

Vivian Largea, Accra, Ghana
Vivian Largea, Accra, Ghana

The Need

For families living in extreme poverty, financial stability remains just out of reach. Without sufficient education, social capital, or geographic proximity, people cannot find jobs in the formal economy. To make matters worse, entrepreneurs struggle without the resources and training needed for their small businesses sustainable and successful, and they lack the collateral needed to access loans and accounts from most banks. They work tirelessly to secure a reliable income, but their options are remarkably limited.

  • 10% of the world lives on less than $1.90/day
  • 1 in 3 people do not have a formal bank account
  • 61% of the world's employed population works in the informal economy

 

Magola Martinez Hertado, Cartegena, Colombia
Magola Martinez Hertado, Cartegena, Colombia

Our Programs and Products

Financial Services

Opportunity International partners with financial institutions around the world to deliver financial literacy training, 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.

Training

Local staff train clients through face-to-face groups and digital modules. Topics center on basic financial skills related to earning, spending, budgeting, and borrowing money. It is designed to help clients better understand the wide range of financial services available to them, increase their use of savings accounts and insurance products, better manage their credit, and diversify their assets.

As clients build their businesses, this new knowledge ensures they are informed as they make major financial decisions.

In addition to financial literacy, Opportunity teaches clients about business management, helping them plan for the futures of their businesses. Through topics like employee management, ethical business practices, and procurement, entrepreneurs learn how to develop their small businesses into thriving enterprises that provide for their families and create jobs for their neighbors.

Savings Groups

Savings and loans groups (sometimes known as Village Savings and Loan Associations) are a proven solution to increasing financial inclusion for people left out of the traditional financial system, such as smallholder farmers, subsistence businesspeople, women, refugees, and youth. Savings groups are a simple and secure way for communities to save money, receive loans, and secure emergency insurance. The typical recordkeeping consists of a group ledger and individual passbooks, with calculations performed by hand or with a calculator—but Opportunity is piloting digital savings groups to improve efficiency, accuracy, group confidence, and cost.

Support

In addition to financial resources and trainingOpportunity International empowers clients to build social and professional connections to facilitate networking, learning, and growth. This relational support is essential for families living in poverty because it connects them to peers and mentors who offer advice, lend a listening ear, and serve as an interconnected safety net.

One example of a support network for clients is the Trust Group — a group of 10 to 30 entrepreneurs who meet to share personal and business advice, receive financial training, and vote on loan-related topics.

Trust Groups ensure one another's loans, which builds a safety net through peer guarantees and creates a community based on collective success. As a result, Trust Group members encourage and support one another as they build their businesses and support their families.

Digital Financial Services

For families that live in rural communities, financial services and training can be difficult to access. Traveling to an urban center is costly and takes time away from a business or farm, so many rural families remain unbanked or choose informal options.

Digital solutions allow Opportunity to reach even the most remote communities with financial resources, training, and support. Using high-touch, high-tech solutions like mobile banking and agent banker networks, which operate in rural communities and are trained and supported by financial institutions to accept cash deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the bank, we provide reliable financial services to families who have been excluded from formal financial services.

For example, the proliferation of basic-feature phones throughout Africa and Asia over the last decade continues to unlock new ways for Opportunity International to connect vulnerable families to vital services. Globally, two-thirds of unbanked adults have a mobile phone. By leveraging technology families are already using, Opportunity International can accelerate financial and digital inclusion to bring more services and economic opportunities to those who need them most.

Clients can use their phones to complete basic transactions and payments. They can also apply for loans through a mobile phone or receive loan disbursements directly on their phones. Through a simple menu-item interface, clients can check their balances, transfer funds, and sometimes pay electricity or water bills.

Opportunity International also offers Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services to serve clients who cannot read or utilize text prompts on their phones. These voice recordings allow us to include even more marginalized groups in the financial services we offer.

60 Decibels Research

In 2023, global impact measurement company 60 Decibels conducted its second annual survey of microfinance institutions and clients in 32 countries. Ten Opportunity financial institution partners participated. The findings underscore positive economic and social outcomes and improvements in wellbeing:

• 93% of borrowers reported improved quality of life

• 86% of borrowers reported increased income

• 71% of borrowers can feed their families more or better-quality meals as a result of a microloan

• 9 out of 10 were better able to manage their finances

• 8 out of 10 have increased savings

• 6 out of 10 are spending more on their children’s education

Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones allow us to do what we do best: provide comprehensive services for the families we serve. This innovative, integrated approach leverages Opportunity's proven programs, combining increased incomes and jobs for parents with quality education for children, to accelerate the pace at which families and communities can escape extreme poverty.

As Opportunity International looked at the communities we serve, we repeatedly saw the same challenges playing out. There weren't singular problems, but rather, a series of needs that compounded upon one another. Parents struggled to earn sustainable incomes, which meant that they didn't have enough money to send their children to school. Local infrastructure was lacking so farmers couldn't get their products to market, which meant they had to sell them at a reduced cost to whatever buyer they could find, which lowered their revenue. Families who were already struggling to put food on the table also lacked access to clean water and healthcare.

In 2018, we recognized the potential in bringing together our high-impact programs—Education Financemicroenterprise support and training, and Agriculture Finance—into the same areas to establish Opportunity Zones.

Mityana Zone

In the Mityana Opportunity Zone in Uganda, we have trained and supported nearly 50,000 farmers in the region, teaching them best practices and connecting them to resources and coffee cooperatives both throughout and beyond the Zone. In addition, we provide financial services and EduQuality services to 41 schools in the Zone, equipping school leaders to learn from both education specialists and one another.

Opportunity is also working with partners to develop credit products and savings to reach the youth of the Mityana Zone. Through our Youth Farmer Support Agent project, we are helping youth access group savings and loans, receive training on agriculture and financial literacy, and learn through demonstration plots.

Atlantico-Bolivar Zone

Opportunity International also launched an Opportunity Zone in Colombia, intentionally bringing together flagship programs like savings groups, education, and microenterprise in a geographical region with a large population of people living in extreme poverty. 

In the Atlantico Bolivar Zone, covering Cartagena and Barranquilla, Opportunity is today working with more than 500 savings groups, helping over 8,000 people learn financial literacy, build their financial footing, and receive peer support. In addition, 34 affordable non-state schools participated in our EduQuality program, two financial partners now serve local women entrepreneurs in the region with business growth loans and zero-cost digital savings, and 250 families are in our inaugural Graduation Model program, a holistic initiative designed to serve those living in the most extreme forms of poverty. 

Our Impact

$1.7 BILLION
Capital released
54%
Clients from rural areas
$714
Average loan size
7.8 MILLION
Clients with loans
95%
Clients with loans that are women
17.8 MILLION
Clients with savings
74%
Clients with savings that are women
19
Financial Institution Partners

All impact metrics are as of Calendar Year End 2023. Capital released is the aggregate amount (in US$) of all loans made by Opportunity’s financial service partners, during a given time period, to schools, students, smallholder farmers, agribusiness enterprises, or microbanking loan clients.

Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Tineyi Mawocha

As Chief Program Officer, Tineyi Mawocha provides leadership and oversight towards the successful implementation of Opportunity…

Read More

Camilo Garcia

As Vice President of Strategic Partnerships in Latin America, Camilo García is responsible for leading and overseeing the development…

Read More

Alice Lajwa

As the Project Manager for Opportunity International's Women Empowerment Project in Uganda and Africa, Alice Norah Lajwa is responsible…

Read More
Tineyi MawochaChief Program Officer and Africa Regional Director
Camilo GarciaVice President, Strategic Partnerships, Latin America
Alice LajwaProject Manager, Women Empowerment Project, Africa

Subscribe to our Newsletter