Creating an Opportunity to transform lives in Africa

Allister Heath
TODAY City A.M. is launching its first Christmas appeal. As a newspaper that has become a standard bearer for private enterprise and individual responsibility, I’m delighted that we have formed a partnership with Opportunity International, a brilliant charity that helps poor entrepreneurs worldwide build independent and prosperous lives for themselves by lending them money to grow their own businesses. It is the perfect charity for City A.M.’s readers and for all of those who believe in the transformative power of capitalism and market institutions. If you believe in a handup, not a handout, this will be the perfect cause for you this Christmas.

Opportunity provides financial services (microloans and savings) and business training to more than 2.3m people (84 per cent of whom are women) in 21 developing countries. It also provides innovative micro-insurance that today protects 3.5m lives. The charity’s patron is HRH Princess Anne, who has travelled to Ghana and other countries in support of its projects.

Our appeal will be asking readers for donations to help Opportunity’s work in southern Malawi. The UK government will match every personal donation from our readers pound for pound, immediately doubling its value. We are also launching an online charity auction, in which readers can bid for a range of items (see box on page opposite).

Our series on the appeal will run until the last week before Christmas, during which we will carry interviews and profiles of supporters of Opportunity – and also, crucially, of any major new donors who decide to back our appeal and who want their support to be made public. The phone lines are open.

Many lives have been touched by Opportunity in Africa – and many City folk are already contributing to Opportunity. Lloyds Banking Group in particular has committed its resources and people to the charity’s work on a major scale. We will interview Lloyds’ executive director Truett Tate to discover what the bank gains from the relationship, as well as others such as Jonathan Moulds, Europe president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Martin Devenish, partner at Goldman Sachs, who are active in assisting Opportunity. Please give generously if you can – and thanks in advance for your support.
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