By Aoife Hanna
Opportunity International is offering women the training and support needed to help not only themselves but their communities too via an innovative model which supports enterprise.
The Non-profit organization Opportunity International is working to help those in need to improve their lives and in turn to help their communities improve too.
Via their work, the organization, "unleashes the power of entrepreneurs in some of the world's poorest countries. Through innovative partnerships, our programmes enable people to expand their businesses, feed their family, create jobs and change the world."
Opportunity International was founded in 1971 by two visionary leaders, Al Whittaker and David Bussau, who were inspired to take action by their experiences with people living in extreme poverty.
These men, both incredibly successful businessmen, sought a solution that would help people transform their lives. Using their desire to give back and their entrepreneurial skills, they founded Opportunity International. It became one of the first non-profit organizations to recognize the benefits of offering financial services for people living in poverty in developing countries.
Today, Opportunity International serves more than 10 million hardworking families in over 20 countries around the world and is helping women and girls succeed.
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What does Opportunity International do?
The organization provides marginalized people and their communities with access to business loans, savings accounts, financial training, and community support. This support contributes to empowering these entrepreneurs to work their way out of poverty and to build a new sustainable future for not only themselves and their families—but their communities as well.
Who has Opportunity International helped?
Through their work and research, they've identified the areas where their work is best focussed and can create broader change, faster. As a result, their work is targeted at women, schools, and farmers.
Empowering women and girls, who're often marginalized across the globe, to find their full potential and grow in confidence via education and entrepreneurial endeavours.
One woman helped by their work is Caroline Musoke. Caroline is from Kampala in Uganda and owns a popular fruit and vegetable stall in the city's Ggaba Market. She is the sole carer to her four grandchildren and lives with them in a small room that's close to her business.
Caroline opened up about her story, explaining, "My husband is in the village because he has no work. I am here to stand for my grandchildren." She continued, "Eight years ago I took out a loan for my fruit and vegetable stall. A few years later we had a large fire in the market that burnt the stalls. All the things were spoilt and we were left with nothing. Opportunity helped me rebuild and now I own the stall, I no longer just rent it."
The grandmother said that not only has her business offered her more financial security, but also the chance to provide a better start for her beloved grandchildren. "Recently, I took out a loan for school fees so my grandchildren can go to school," she says. "Before that I used to have to beg and borrow from different people for school fees. Without the loan, I’d have to choose which child could go to school. I don’t want to leave them like that."
Caroline is doing everything she can to help her family thrive, with the help of Opportunity these goals are in her sights. "I have to fulfill my duties since I am still living. I want to see my grandchildren finish university," she says. Adding hopefully, "Then, when they graduate, they’ll be able to find good jobs like nursing and teaching and sustain me!"
How do I learn more about their work?
They're also hosting a photo exhibition which will both show and tell the stories of some of the people they have helped. The outdoor exhibition by photographer Kate Holt—to be held in the heart of London—tells the remarkable stories of refugees in Uganda who are determined to change their lives. The exhibition offers the chance to, "walk amongst these inspiring people, read their stories and learn about the power of an opportunity."
The exhibition is free to attend and will be held in the Southwood Garden, St James’s Church in Piccadilly from September 1st to September 12th and again from September 20th to October 8th 2021.
Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.
She's an Irish journalist and writer with over 1500 bylines and a background in creative writing, comedy and TV production.
Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the soon-to-be-published Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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