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quarterly newsletter

Winter 2008

“bank in a box”

— coming soon

For clients working in and around the sprawling markets of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, a trip to the bank can mean a long ride on the crowded “chapas” (buses) and hours of business lost. To bring greater access to urban clients living or working far from the main branch, Opportunity International’s latest innovation is the “Bank in a Box”—a truck container ingeniously repurposed to become a portable bank.

Why do the poor need banks? Imagine you had to pay cash for everything—your groceries, your car and even your home—and that the safest place to keep that cash was under your mattress or buried in the ground. Consider what it would be like to have no insurance and be completely vulnerable to a health crisis, natural disaster or death in the family. A practical and affordable solution, these bank branches will accept savings accounts and disburse loans. Fingerprint technology will make these financial services an option for all, not only the literate. Seven of these containers will be strategically placed in the middle of urban markets to accommodate the needs of Opportunity clients, saving them time and money.

According to the World Bank, nearly three billion people in developing countries have little or no access to formal credit, savings or insurance products. In the U.S., we take financial services for granted, but without them, life can be precarious. It means that an entrepreneur can work for decades and not have enough money on hand for emergencies. With no safety net, an ordinary setback—a sick child, a heavy rain, a lost job—can spell disaster to an entire family. The poor need banks and the formal financial services they provide to create stability for their families and mitigate the inherent risks of living in poverty. Opportunity International builds banks as part of our overall goal to bring continued on page 4

“...whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all...” —Galatians 6:10


CEO Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Global experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Smart Giving with Chuck Day . . . . . . 4 John Deere and Opportunity . . . . . . 5 OptINnow™ giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

ceo corner with chris crane

Recently, I was reading a Wall Street Journal article on the high percentage of subprime loans in the portfolios of many U.S. banks. I shook my head and asked myself how they could do this. Then, I realized that 100 percent of our loans are subprime; most of our clients don't even have an address. One of the major differences— which I’m particularly proud of— is that Opportunity International has a unique and effective business model that results in a client loan repayment rate of over 98 percent. This is due in no small part to the professionalism and dedication of our more than 5,000 loan officers around the world. We won’t know the full impact of the financial crisis for many months to come. Yet we are confident that Opportunity’s business model, combined with our many innovations, will allow us to continue serving the working poor during these trying times. As you consider year-end giving, please note that Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of charities, has recognized Opportunity’s efficiency and effectiveness in managing its finances with its top rating of four stars. You can be assured that your gifts to Opportunity International will be used responsibly and multiplied over and over again to help many more of the working poor during the uncertain economic times that lie ahead.


opportunity banks

Global experts in our ranks As a leader in building microfinance banks for the poor, Opportunity International is committed to recruiting international finance experts. With depth of experience and passion for our mission, these leaders are creating a powerful global enterprise to bring a full range of financial services to the developing world. Based in Maputo, Mozambique, Wesley Jordan is Chief Financial Officer at Bank of Opportunity Mozambique. With an emphasis on technology and paperless banking, he has spearheaded the bank’s efforts to create a unique lending niche. His goal is to reach as many of the “unbanked" as possible— through biometric fingerprint identification technology, cellular technology and mobile banks. Wesley’s background includes emerging markets fund Wesley Jordan analysis, developing microfinance operations for World Relief, and small enterprise development in Kosovo with Mercy Corps. In 1998, he earned a Master of International Affairs degree with a concentration in International Economic Policy from Columbia University. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Wesley now lives in Maputo with his wife and son. George Solo, Opportunity International’s Regional Human Resources Director, Africa, came to us with extensive experience in progressive international human resources. Before joining Opportunity, George was the Director of Human Resources for PM Global, based in Minneapolis, Minn. In this role, he was responsible for providing HR strategies for partner organizations in the United States, Mexico, Japan and China. Previously he was the Global George Solo HR Manager for the Providence Group in Minneapolis and an HR Generalist for the Owens Group, in Brussels, Belgium. George was born in Liberia, and received his formal education in Brussels, where he earned his MBA from the University of Liege. George’s background makes him well prepared to take on the challenge of finding the best qualified staff for Opportunity’s ever-increasing needs in the Africa region. As Opportunity expands its microfinance services across Africa, George is responsible for recruiting senior staff needed at the global, regional and country levels. He has relocated from Minnesota to Kampala, Uganda, where he now lives with his family. ■

An active season To raise awareness and funds to help the poor, Opportunity International and our supporters have hosted many functions across the country—from black-tie fundraisers to international celebrations.

Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO) Gala As part of their commitment to fully fund a new bank for the poor in Tanzania, the Young Ambassadors for Opportunity (YAO) hosted Financing the Future, a black-tie gala in New York City. Addressing the audience are Elena Compton and Liesel Pritzker, YAO co-founders.

International Women’s Leadership Award The Women’s Opportunity Network paid homage to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, with the International Women’s Leadership Award. The award recognized President Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, for her distinguished career over four decades of fighting for freedom, justice and equality. Shown here: Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, President Sirleaf and Chris Crane, President & CEO of Opportunity International.

Board of Governors Conference

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf shares a few moments with A.T. Tshibaka, to whom she once reported at Citibank. A.T. is a member of Opportunity International’s Board of Directors.

At the October conference, Dr. Kwabena Darko (second from right), member of Opportunity's Board of Directors, is joined by Opportunity staff Amanda Johnson, Michael Okleme and Effie Cook.


smart giving with chuck day Despite the financial volatility of the past few months, there are some smart giving decisions you can make before the December 31 tax deadline: 1. Give to your favorite charities: • Sell stock that has depreciated in value and give the cash proceeds. You can deduct both the loss and the cash gift to charity; • Consider giving non-traditional assets, such as an unneeded life insurance policy with a cash value, Savings Bonds or collectibles; • Donors age 70 ½ or older can give up to $100,000 from their IRAs without incurring income tax; • Open a Donor Advised Fund account and establish your Family Giving Fund. You earn your tax deduction at the time you deposit funds into your account, and can recommend charitable gifts from the account at any time;

Why do the poor need banks?

(continued from the cover)

transformation to the poor through microfinance. We operate 17 banks and financial institutions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Africa, home to 24 of the 25 poorest countries in the world, is Opportunity’s focus for building microfinance banks going forward. Our vision is to create a chain of full-service banks for the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, accessible to every community. We already operate regulated banks in Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana and Mozambique, with new banks opening by 2009 in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Over the next five years, we will expand to seven more African nations.

Banking on Africa—Spotlight: Mozambique The United Nations Human Development Report lists Mozambique as the fifth poorest country in the world. In 2005, Opportunity established the Bank of Opportunity Mozambique, and now has over 20,000 clients using their services. We operate “bricks-and-mortar” branches in four major cities, including the capital, Maputo, with additional expansion in the works. But with 80 percent of Mozambique’s population living in rural areas or outside city centers, nontraditional methods are needed to reach the ( story continues) 

• Establish a Charitable Gift Annuity to create a new source of retirement income at attractive rates. For example, a 50-year-old who defers annuity payments to age 70 qualifies for a guaranteed 15.3% rate, plus a current tax deduction.

2. Give to yourself: With stock prices artificially deflated, make sure you maximize contributions to your tax-deferred retirement plan or IRA. 3. Give to your heirs: You can make a tax-free lifetime gift of up to $12,000 per child or grandchild each year. The same gift through your estate could be subject to a 45% estate tax. For questions on any aspects of “smart giving” to either family or charity, please contact Chuck Day, Opportunity’s Director of Gift Planning Services, at 630-242-4136 or


Every Friday, the Opportunity Mobile Bank stops at Sussundenga, Mozambique, a one kilometer walk from Lucas Chingore’s farm. For the first time in his life, Lucas has a safe place to keep his earnings and access to life-changing loans. Opportunity loans have enabled him to buy a water pump to irrigate his crops—expanding his yield and his work force. Four neighbors now work for Lucas, bringing income to their families. Lucas can now afford quality food, health care and tuition for his five children and his two brothers at university. “My life has changed so dramatically because of Opportunity. I started with so little and the loans have allowed me to make a profit and provide more food for my community,” Lucas says.

“unbanked.” Opportunity’s solution is innovative mobile and portable banks that bring access to financial services for even the poorest and most isolated clients. Opportunity mobile banks remove the greatest barriers to access for the poor in remote areas: the time and money required to travel to a bank’s main branch. Mobile banks bring the bank to the people, stopping at up to 25 locations weekly. Some of our clients in Mozambique’s cities have a similar problem. Markets can spread over miles and central bank

branches may be difficult to reach. The answer? Opportunity’s latest innovation —“Bank in a Box” (see cover sidebar). Soon to be in operation, these low-cost, portable branches will help thousands of clients in heavily populated urban areas. Opportunity International has learned that establishing formal banking institutions in developing nations is the most effective and sustainable approach to helping the poor. Our banks bring hope and transformation to millions of economically disadvantaged and marginalized people. ■

John Deere and Opportunity:

A new alliance to fight hunger in Africa Opportunity International and the John Deere Foundation have joined together to increase access to financing for the hunger-afflicted in Africa. A generous $1.2 million grant from the John Deere Foundation will enable Opportunity to implement low-cost, technology-driven microfinance services for the rural poor in Malawi and Mozambique, where millions of people face chronic poverty and hunger. “We are excited about our new alliance with Opportunity International and look forward to the significant impact that will be achieved in Malawi and Mozambique,” said John Bustle, vice president, John Deere Foundation. “These quality financial services will help thousands of people thrive as their food-related businesses develop and will result in significantly increased food supplies for countless others.” The goal of the joint project is to create a sustainable framework in Africa to increase food production, food availability and family income for food. Due to Opportunity’s unique business model and loan repayment rate of 98 percent, the impact of the grant on the global food crisis will be substantial. Through the recycling of loans, mobilization of savings deposits and financial leveraging, the $1.2 million grant will amount to an economic stimulus of $10.64 million over three years. With the grant, Opportunity will open four new bank branches and finance 6,800 agricultural businesses. Entrepreneurs receiving loans will create 35,040 new jobs and benefit 62,000 family members. ■

In Maputo, Mozambique, Catarina Jambo’s sacks of maize are stacked high in a tiny barn. Outside, a small, diesel-operated mill stands proudly, churning out finely ground flour for bread and other products. Opportunity International loans have allowed Catarina to become a major distributor of maize, a staple in her community. With the loans, she buys and transports large quantities from Chimoio—over 500 miles away. Catarina has a savings account with Opportunity and plans to expand by starting a chicken business and buying another mill. Her dream is self-sufficiency—to end her need for loans and use her own capital to fund the business.


governors in action

From tennis pro to champion for the poor Anne Guerrant traveled the globe on the professional tennis circuit in the 1970s. Playing Wimbledon and other tournaments, she was ranked as high as #11 in the world. Through her travels, Anne encountered people living in extreme poverty. Humbled and moved, she vowed that someday she would find a way to help. Years later, she and her husband Terry discovered microfinance and Opportunity International. They were inspired by the dignity and ambition of the women entrepreneurs they met while visiting a microcredit program in India. Anne says, “We wanted to bring microfinance to more of the world’s poor and decided the highest use of our talents was to raise awareness and funds.” Anne and Terry became members of Opportunity International’s Board of Governors and in 2005, started the Guerrant Foundation to help women and families improve their lives through microfinance.

Taking the message to corporations On a 2006 Insight Trip to Malawi the Guerrants noticed a John Deere sign. Anne reflects, “I thought that perhaps they would support Opportunity, so I called my friend who is an executive there.” That call, combined with staff efforts, helped build a relationship between Opportunity and John Deere— resulting in a $1.2 million grant (see article on page 5). “This is the beauty of the Board of Governors program— people using their personal and business networks to serve the poor,” says Wendy Cox, Board of Governors director.

Since then, they have developed a Web site, spoken to dozens of community and church groups and started an international club for globally aware people. With over $200,000 in donations, the Guerrants are well on the way to their ultimate goal of raising over $1 million for microfinance. The Guerrants now combine visiting Opportunity clients in India, Africa and Mexico with teaching tennis clinics. Anne may have retired from professional tennis, but her days as a champion for the poor are in full swing. ■


Holiday gift cards A new way to involve friends and family in the fight against global poverty This holiday season, follow the lead of Susan Gillette, an Opportunity board member who’s spreading the word about Susan is sending an impassioned plea to friends, family and business contacts to give OptINnow™ gift certificates in place of more traditional holiday gifts. As she says, “This is a great way to get my friends whose nonprofits I support to now support our work for Opportunity International. And it’s a thrill to connect directly with entrepreneurs.”

Board of Governors calendar insight trips

Colombia February 10 – 14, 2009 Peru April 6 – 13, 2009 Latin America – Governors Family Week June 21 – 27, 2009 Malawi August 17 – 24, 2009 India October 10 – 17, 2009

governors conferences San Francisco April 24 – 25, 2009

Chicago October 2 – 3, 2009

Give a “Change the World” gift card Choose a gift that honors the recipient and gives to those in need —a gift card from Your recipients will receive a gift card by email that allows them to choose an entrepreneur to support at Or, you can print out the gift card and deliver it in person or by mail.


Making Your Corporate Connections Count December 12 12:00 – 12:30pm CST *Please note that trips fill up quickly and may be unavailable. To check on a trip or participate in any Governor activities, please contact Wendy Cox, Board of Governors Director, 630-414-2567 or

To receive a detailed guide on the OptINnow gift card program, please email Ian Haisley at

What is OptINnow? OptINnow,, enables the general public to transform the lives of the working poor, right from a computer. Supporters can look through client profiles—names, photos, business profiles and business needs—and personally select the clients whose loans they wish to fund. With OptINnow, more people, at any income level, can make a sustainable difference in the fight against poverty. OptINnow is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.

impact is published quarterly by Opportunity International 2122 York Road, Ste. 150 Oak Brook, Illinois 60523 For more information: (800) 793-9455 ©2008 Opportunity International

For more information, visit Printed on recycled paper



opportunity international mission is to provide opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives.

Our method is to work through indigenous partner organizations that provide small business loans, other financial services, training and counsel.

Our commitment is motivated by Jesus Christ’s call to serve the poor. Our core values are respect, commitment to the poor, integrity and stewardship. Opportunity International serves women and men of all faiths and no faith.

2122 York Road, Ste. 150, Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

Stronger together in Mozambique “We are neighbors, we trust one another,” says Ucilia, founder of the HLUVKA “Solidarity Group.” Ucilia sells staples like sugar and rice from her home. She came to Bank of Opportunity Mozambique for a loan to invest in her business and was encouraged to join its group lending program, which in this country is made up of smaller, more tightly knit groups than traditional Trust Groups. She recruited three friends: Alice and Sandra, charcoal merchants along a busy road; and Calado, who sells cooking oil. Eager to support and motivate each other, they named their group HLUVKA, or “Emerge”—appropriate for aspiring entrepreneurs. Bank of Opportunity Mozambique recently approved first loans of $140 to each. They agreed to save $1.75 daily and to support each other if a member can’t make a payment on time. With their anticipated increased incomes, Alice plans to build a chicken coop to diversify her business. Calado will finish building his house. And all four plan for their children to complete school.

Members of the HLUVKA Solidarity Group

IMPACT12_08/14.5M / DD5014

Our strategy is to create jobs, stimulate small businesses and strengthen communities among the poor.

Impact Winter 2008  

—Galatians 6:10 Winter 2008 A practical and affordable solution, these bank branches will accept savings accounts and disburse loans. Finger...

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