Thursday 18 December 2014 1:06 am

Unlocking potential in developing nations

City Index is working with Opportunity International this Christmas to ensure there’s a bright future for small businesses in Africa.

Securing funding for your small business can be difficult in the UK, but it’s a lot harder in the developing world. Opportunity International, a UK-based charity, is trying to change that because it thinks that a great business idea can lift a family or even a whole community out of poverty. Founded in 1971 by Al Whittaker, former president of Bristol Myers International Corporation in the US and Australian entrepreneur David Bussau, the nonprofit organisation was one of the first to recognise the benefits of microfinance – financial services for low-income people – and how this could be used to alleviate poverty in the developing world.
Today, the charity has unlocked the potential of around five million entrepreneurs in 22 countries, providing loans, savings accounts and financial management training to give people a better chance of providing for themselves and their families long-term. Its current appeal, Seeds of Opportunity, hopes to raise funds to support and create employment. A donation of £30 can provide 10 farmers in Ghana with financial training and £150 can help someone develop a small business.
Closer to home, City Index, the spread betting and CFD trading firm in London’s Finsbury Circus, is helping to raise money for Opportunity International’s Christmas Appeal by donating part of their revenue during December, while boosting trading numbers at the same time. “Our business really values the charitable work that all our staff do throughout the year, and it makes for a great working environment and promotes team work,” says City Index’s chief executive officer and chairman Mark Preston.
“Opportunity International’s aims of making markets work for poorer people is the perfect strategic fit for our staff and our customers. The more our customers trade, the more we’ll donate, allowing us to align activity in the developed financial markets with the much simpler, but vital, needs of those seeking to develop small businesses to help themselves in Africa.
“More importantly for me, it will raise awareness of the challenges faced by Africa’s micro-entrepreneurs as well as demonstrating how our help can make such a huge difference in making access to banking services available, which we in the developed world take for granted.”
Preston, who has supported the charity for years, recently travelled to Africa to see its work in action. “What really drew me to Opportunity International was the organisation’s ability to harness the energy and passion of micro-entrepreneurs across Africa. On my visits to their work in Mozambique and Ghana, I’ve been struck by the quality of Opportunity’s staff, who live among the people they serve and really understand the local context, opportunities and challenges.”
A number of other individuals, trusts and charities support Opportunity International’s work such as City A.M., Prudential, Clear Channel, Citi Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Vitol Foundation and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Lucia Enacio


Lucia Enacio is a 41-year-old mother from Mozambique, who found herself the sole provider for her nine children following the death of her husband.

“My friend told me about Opportunity International and I joined a women’s group. So far I have had one loan, which I used to buy bean seeds and to pay for labour to help me weed and harvest the crop. I now grow soya beans, maize, beans and millet. I have done very well, I made nine bags of maize profit and four bags of bean profit this year. With this, I have been able to pay back my loan and save money for the first time.
“I receive a lot of support from Opportunity International. We meet once a week to discuss our business ideas and financial problems. I have learnt about setting up a business plan and how to manage my loan. I have learnt how to increase the produce from my fields by being able to invest in my business by buying seeds and employing people to help me.
“My life is so much better now. I have been able to pay for my hospital bills, pay for my children’s school fees and books, and now I am hoping to build a good house for me and my children, which we have never had before.”


All donations received before 26 February 2015 will be doubled by the UK government, doubling your impact and transforming the lives of many more people.
Text: OIUK £10 to 70070 to donate £10
Call: 01865 725304
Send cheques payable to Opportunity International UK to Opportunity International, Angel Court, 81 St Clements, Oxford, OX4 1AW.
For the full World Charity Index 2014 list take a look at our interactive graphic