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© 2021 Opportunity InternationalOpportunity International United Kingdom is registered as a charity in England and Wales (1107713) and in Scotland (SCO39692).

News Blog

Finding a Lifeline for the Poor and the Financial Institutions that serve them

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are increasing levels of vulnerability and insecurity, and driving many into chronic poverty. Microfinance Institutions - critical actors in provision of wealth creation, employment and safety nets for the poor - are also struggling with the knock-on effects due to increases in the level of deposit withdrawals and loan default rates.  In a recent article, I highlight the impact of COVID-19 on four key client groups.  Workers in the urban informal…

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How digital technology is supporting our clients during COVID-19

by Dana Lunberry, Digital Financial Inclusion Manager.

COVID-19 has forced many of us to stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact with others.  These restrictions on our lives affect many of us but they disproportionately affect people living in poverty, those who do not have reliable and steady sources of income, enough savings in the bank, or access to credit to help tide them over.   Without such basic financial services, many people have huge difficulty in covering basic living expenses and a large number may find themselves in deeper levels…

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We're in this together: COVID-19 Update

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

You will no doubt be preoccupied with the challenges of living through this global pandemic.  It is an unprecedented time and difficult for everyone.  So this is no more than a brief update on how things are unfolding in Africa and how our clients are being affected. Africa is now facing the same crisis we are experiencing in Europe and I am deeply concerned about what may be ahead.  For vulnerable people already disadvantaged by poverty, millions of lives could be lost.  Life for the people…

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Serving the Poorest in Ghana

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

At the heart of social and economic development are effective institutions. In developed market economies, institutions, both public and private, effect all our daily lives from water supply to banking. In developing countries such as Ghana none of this can be taken for granted. Once you travel away from Accra and the major towns, as I did in a few weeks ago in February, public infrastructure is poor – roads, schools and public health facilities are decrepit or absent and access to finance can…

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We're in this together: serving our clients during the most challenging of times.

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

In these unprecedented times of the coronavirus pandemic, Opportunity International is taking measures to protect our clients, partners and staff.  We know that any crisis we experience in the UK hits the developing world harder. At a challenging time for us all in the UK, we are maintaining our focus on our clients across Sub-Saharan Africa who, in view of limited resources and weaker healthcare systems, face far greater needs to protect themselves and their families from the virus. Our partners…

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Better Together: Tackling Poverty in Partnership

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

Al Whittaker and David Bussau came together in 1971 to launch what we now know as Opportunity International. They were pioneers in recognising the benefits of financial services for people living in poverty in developing countries. Nearly 50 years later Opportunity International is a thriving network focussed around the continuing need to bring banking to the poor.  The network of Opportunity International Support Members from the UK, US, Australia, Germany and Canada continues to work as one, serving…

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A Journey to Ghana

by Sharon Williams, Development Manager

This International Women’s Day we have a story full of hope and potential. So come with us on a journey to Ghana in celebration of this special day.......   Iddrisu is with her youngest child who made the journey to Accra with her. (Photo: Daniella Hawkins)  Iddrisu is a young, outgoing and ambitious women. She is also a single parent to three children aged 8, 5 and 1. Like many living in Ghana’s northern region, she is poor, having had a limited education and few opportunities to lift…

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Changing Lives with Effective Enterprise

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

In November last year I visited our work in Uganda.  I was struck by the many stories of change that were shared with me. Time and time again I heard how providing access to financial training, loans and savings has changed lives. Group lending underpins our core work, it is the bedrock of the microfinance movement and still works  as effectively today as it always has. Opportunity has been working with trust groups for over 40 years. I visited the Peace Musooli Trust Group in Gayanza –  in…

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The pressing need to support refugees in Uganda

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

Uganda hosts the third largest population of refugees in the world, after Turkey and Pakistan.  Forced displacement now affects the lives of 71 million women, men and children - imagine the entire population of the UK and Ireland on the move! No one doubts the generosity of Uganda’s government and people to the 1.3 million refugees and displaced people who settle there - many of whom come from South Sudan, DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.  Some doubts have been recently cast on the exact numbers as certain…

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Bridging the Humanitarian and Development divide

by Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive

This last month I’ve been thinking a lot about Refugees.  In November I met Therese  (pictured below) in Nakivale refugee settlement in southern Uganda.  Theresa is from the Democratic Republic of Congo from which she fled with her children after her husband was taken by rebel militia.  She arrived at Nakivale in September 2019 and currently lives in the resettlement centre waiting to receive her plot of land to build a home on.  She receives two meals a day.   Therese is ambitious and determined…

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