As I write this final diary column, two of the countries we work in are going through difficult times. While the Democratic Republic of Congo remains tense following presidential elections, Malawi’s economy is under great strain.

But despite the tough economic and political outlook in many of the countries we serve, there is every reason to be confident in the future.

Today, Opportunity is serving nearly one million people across Africa who show us daily that energy, creativity and entrepreneurship are alive and well. Our clients are using small loans to create blooming businesses. Their small but essential savings are kept safe for the first time in our savings accounts. And they are able to face an uncertain future with confidence thanks to our specially tailored insurance products. In short, we know that Opportunity microfinance works.

By supporting this appeal, you’re helping us offer these opportunities to a further 17,000 of Malawi’s poorest people. That’s 17,000 more people given a chance to escape poverty with dignity and self-determination.

There’s never been a better or more important time to support Africa’s people. We’re working in 10 African countries and would be delighted to have your company in 2012 and beyond. Thank you.