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> Summer 2009

Fighting the crunch Everyone is feeling the pinch as the economic downturn begins to bite around the world. Opportunity International clients are showing resilience and determination in the face of these challenges.

Freezing fish freezing prices Valentim used to travel daily by bus from Maputo, Mozambique to buy fish from a nearby fishing village to sell back in his local market. But when fuel prices led to more expensive bus fares, Valentim had to charge more for his fish – and custom dropped. Valentim thought quickly and, using an Opportunity International loan, he bought a freezer. Now he needs to make fewer journeys as he can hold more stock, and so is able to keep prices down and custom up.

Opportunity is helping clients like Valentim to work through challenging times

Insight Opportunity International Ambassadors John and Mary Rigg visited our clients and staff in Malawi.

“An enlightening, extremely informative trip,” they said, “To see Opportunity in operation first-hand was so inspiring. We felt great admiration for the local clients who are making changes to their lives in difficult circumstances.”

Delivering the goods A group of South African women who won a contract to deliver fresh produce for school meals were struggling with increased fuel costs, food prices and being paid in arrears. However, loans from Opportunity, with realistic repayment terms, have improved their cash flow and now they have no problems delivering the produce. Meanwhile the school children can tuck into nutritious meals.

Read more about fighting the crunch at >

Micro insurance provides safety net

CEO CORNER It’s remarkable what a group of big-hearted individuals can do. Recession may be hitting but Opportunity International is continuing to grow – thanks to the generous support of our donors. Opportunity does nothing smarter than to harness the energy, dedication and enterprise of the people we serve. They are the essential element of our poverty-busting business model. We provide them with micro loans, which we recycle time and time again. We provide a safe haven for people’s life savings. That’s all good. The smarter part is that clients also invest in the process. They get trained. They generate income and successfully repay their loans. They make sacrifices to save. But, above all, they invest their human spirit, talents and energies – with courage and determination. Opportunity’s approach gives people a dignified and sustainable way to tackle poverty for themselves. Please keep your support coming. You’re making a tremendous difference.

Edward Fox CEO, Opportunity International UK

Former maid Annette (below) started a charcoal business, and joined an Opportunity Trust Group of local Ugandan women to take out loans and micro insurance.

But Annette’s Opportunity insurance included funeral benefits for her family and she used the payout of 300,000 Uganda Shilling (£100) to tide them over.

With the first loan, Annette bought more stock and her business began to grow. Then tragedy struck. Her son fell ill with malaria and Annette was forced to abandon her work to nurse him. Despite her care and hospital treatment, the boy died. He was just 13.

Today Annette is back at work, still grieving for her lost son, but secure in the knowledge that she had micro insurance to help her through. She says: “I feel peace because I know that anything can happen to my business or my family, but I can continue to go on.”

“I had to close the business for two weeks,” explains Annette. “My other children were wondering if they would be able to go to school and how they were going to eat.”

J.P. Morgan In South Africa, a country where half the population is ‘unbanked’ and more than a third live on less than $2 a day, developing small businesses and giving people a leg-up to the next rung is vital to enable them to lift themselves out of poverty. Thanks to funding from investment bank J.P. Morgan, Opportunity is opening two new branches in KwaZulu-Natal province, which has the highest poverty and unemployment rates in South Africa. This means more support for people like seamstress Beauty. Turned down by a commercial bank for a loan, Beauty contacted Opportunity. After an income assessment, she received a loan to expand her business.

South African seamstress Beauty used her Opportunity loan to buy two new sewing machines (above) to expand her growing T-shirt business

For more on micro insurance visit >

At the foot of Kilimanjaro Opportunity International is at work serving 3,500 clients in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital, and now plans to extend its services into the country’s poorest areas in the north. Opportunity will build a flagship branch in Arusha, a town branch in Moshi and two satellite branches in the surrounding Kilimanjaro area. From these bases, field staff will travel to isolated areas, taking

business, financial literacy and HIV/AIDS training to poor communities. With a highly successful operation in neighbouring Malawi to call on for help and expertise, our pioneering ideas such as mobile banks will be rolled out in Tanzania. To help achieve this, a generous £1 million grant has been committed by the Scottish Government.

STOP PRESS Opportunity International’s insurance agency, MicroEnsure, has partnered with the UN through the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative. This initiative is helping to create a US $5 billion climate change insurance plan which will cover people in developing countries that are at risk from drought, flooding, or natural events that are often a result of climate change. “It looks as if we have been successful in getting a prominent role for micro insurance within the replacement for the Kyoto protocol,” says MicroEnsure President Richard Leftley. Established in 2005, MicroEnsure provides life, property, crop and health insurance products to the poor.

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Jai Ho! Be victorious! As women around the world marked International Women’s Day in March, Opportunity International’s Rebecca Jones travelled to India to meet some of our microentrepreneurs. Women have a low status in India. We have over 40,000 clients – all women – with an average loan of £96. Here are some of Rebecca’s impressions…

“As I observe Chennai from the back of a scooter, I notice the lack of women on the streets. “Women here often do not know the outside world,” says my colleague Bhuvana. Yet on International Women’s Day over 30,000 women turn out to celebrate with Opportunity International – a sea of orange, green, gold. Such vibrancy, and it paints the picture for the day. I have never seen so many women gathered together for one cause. A loan does not buy you a voice and a loan can’t buy you respect. But using it well does. Developing a business that makes a profit, saving small amounts for emergencies, this is what buys you respect and a voice in the household.

Read more impressions of India at >

Opportunity International offers women the chance to grow in a place where opportunities for women are often so stifled. The opportunity to grow into the person they want to be, and into a world where a woman has a voice. I feel proud to be part of this. As friends of Opportunity we are all a part of it.”

Get involved!

Get sponsored

Opportunity International has an ambitious vision to give millions of people a chance to work their way out of poverty. During these turbulent times, the poor need a hand up more than ever. Here are some ways you can help:

Share some advice Could you offer pro bono advice or suggestions to help Opportunity navigate its way through these turbulent economic times? Tell us how and where we could secure more resources to develop our work. Please contact Helen, Communications Manager: or on 01865 725304

If you are adventurous and up for a challenge, why not get friends to sponsor you? Committed Opportunity supporters have run marathons, trekked half way to Everest base camp and cycled from London to Geneva to give the poor a working chance.

Donate 98% of Opportunity’s loans are repaid and lent again. A donation to Opportunity is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Make a donation at or call us on 01865 725304.

Give in celebration Why not include Opportunity International on your wedding or birthday wish list?

Radio 4

Lucy and Carlton Crabbe (left) asked for donations to Opportunity in lieu of wedding gifts. “When Lucy and I got married we decided that we wanted our new life together to make a difference now and for many years to come. We already had so much for our home that we wanted to involve our family and friends in giving to others

“The beauty of Opportunity’s smart card for these women is it keeps their money safe. Nobody can use your smart card because your fingerprint is unique to you. In Malawi one of our clients lost her husband. When he died, his family threw her out of the house and took everything, including her smart card. They tried to withdraw her money but couldn’t access the account. This money was her lifeblood and she used it to start over her business. She says she is an ambassador for

who have so much less, some barely enough to live on,” explains Carlton. “We chose Opportunity because it offers people a hand up, not just a hand out. I work in finance and often see the power of money wasted or abused. Here was a chance to impact others by giving away what would otherwise be given to us but not needed.” Please contact Danny: or on 01865 725304 to find out more.

the smart card. It’s a very effective thing for women,” explains Opportunity UK’s Lydia Opoku. Listen to more first-hand accounts of how Opportunity is helping African women to set up in business from Lydia and Executive Chairman of Ariya Capital Group, Herta von Stiegel, on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour:

Photo credits: John Cairns, Ron Londen, MicroEnsure, Trevor Samson. Design and production:

Contact us. We would love to hear from you. Opportunity International UK. Oxford: Angel Court, 81 St Clements. OX4 1AW. T: 01865 725304 Edinburgh: St. Colm’s International House, 23 Inverleith Terrace. EH3 5NS. T: 0131 3154444 Registered as a charity in England and Wales (1107713) and in Scotland (SC039692). Patron: HRH The Princess Royal

Opportunity Summer News 2009  
Opportunity Summer News 2009  

Fighting the crunch, J.P. Morgan give their support, Impressions from India and more