CARLOS Moreno’s life changed forever when he received a loan from Opportunity International. In less than two years, the hard-up Colombian entrepreneur had turned his small spice making business into an 11-man operation growing, drying, packaging and selling more than 50 different teas and spices.
That was in 1971 and Carlos was Opportunity’s first-ever customer. In the intervening 40 years the organisation has transformed the lives of millions of people in developing countries.
Headed by Edward Fox, a former Oxfam director, and with HRH Princess Anne as its patron, Opportunity’s UK operation gives people in poor countries such as Malawi access to financial services such as bank accounts and loans.
Opportunity believes poverty is an economic challenge. It wants to give the world’s poorest people the chance to build their own businesses and save wisely, to work their way to prosperity.
At its core are micro loans of as little as £50 per person, for people to invest in growing a business. The enterprises could be growing extra crops to sell, or trading food, spices or clothes, where a little extra investment can get them on the path to growth. Where clients have grown their business and want larger loans to take on staff or equipment, Opportunity can supply larger loans.
The aim of our Christmas appeal is to help Opportunity raise funding to expand into the province of Nsanje in southern Malawi, an impoverished region of Africa where almost half of people live on less than $1.25 a day.
Opportunity runs a network of bank branches in towns around the region but has pioneered innovations such as mobile banks that drive out to rural villages to give people a secure place to save their money.
Today, it serves more than 55,000 microloan clients and has opened more than 400,000 savings accounts in Malawi.
Through your donations, it can grow to reach thousands more entrepreneurs and help to change their lives for the better.
OPPORTUNITY IN NUMBERS
9.8m Opportunity loans issued in past five years
£140 average first loan in Malawi
96% of all loans repaid
£55 average balance in savings account in Malawi
405,000 clients with savings accounts in Malawi