Opportunity International commits to further expand the Trans-Africa Microfinance Banking Network. The Network aims to serve three purposes:
1) To be a proven suite of lending, savings, and insurance products tailored to the needs of the poor; a successful urban-based lending model relying primarily on group lending (Trust Banks), strong senior bank management, equity ownership, and board seats to secure partners' commitment to poverty focus and performance
2) To be a network of debt and equity providers supplying access to commercial funding; innovative technology, including a multi-function management information system (MIS) based on a powerful banking management system, Smart Cards for clients, ATMs, Point of Sale technologies, and advanced communications technologies to increase access for clients and internal efficiencies for Opportunity banks
3) To be a consolidation network that rolls underperforming institutions into Opportunity's commercial banking framework to improve services for clients, and a scalable rural model that replaces traditional bank branches with technology-based solutions to reach the most isolated of the rural poor with financial services.
Opportunity has developed and is refining a tailored business model to address the complexities and challenges of the African microfinance market. This model is based on a commercial micro-banking platform, supported by mission-driven microfinance banking experts, and is designed to turn several persistent challenges in Africa into opportunities. Rural areas will become the new microfinance strongholds. Underperforming institutions will become viable and grow to previously unimagined levels as their clients benefit in new ways. Widely available savings and insurance will fuel future growth by generating expansion capital. This scalable platform will elevate Africa as a global microfinance center, benefiting from advanced technology, cutting-edge commercial microfinance practices and world-class expertise.
Microfinance clients face distinct challenges in Africa--the result of bearing the burdens of economic hardship and the AIDS pandemic. They suffer from illness, death, the costs of taking in orphans, and all the financial burdens that go along with these realities. They need more than just micro-credit. As regulated entities, microfinance banks are able to achieve greater leverage through borrowed funds and client deposits. The combination of increased efficiencies and financial leverage result in scalable operations relevant to the scope of the challenges in Africa. Opportunity International currently serves almost 770,000 of the poorest entrepreneurs around the world. The goal for 2010 is to be serving two million loan clients annually. In Africa, Opportunity International currently operates in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, serving over 86,500 clients, and will expand to Rwanda and Kenya by the end of 2006. In ten years, Opportunity plans to be in eight additional African countries. Opportunity International's vision is to serve 50 million entrepreneurs - directly impacting 300 million lives--over the next 25 years.
SEEKING: Financial partners, implementing partners
Agriculture service providers in Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda
Opportunity's Trans-Africa Microfinance Network seeks to open partnerships with organizations in the developing world in the areas of insurance, AIDS support, housing and community development that can be consolidate into its banking structure.
OFFERING: Best practice information
Opportunity Banks maintain a sustained focus on developing products to serve the poorest and marginalized and tailor existing products to better fit the needs of this target group. Its tiered lending products, demand and time deposits, and micro insurance products give clients access to the tools they need to expand their businesses and protect themselves against the risks they face on a daily basis. Opportunity International also uses a combination of bricks and mortar and innovative technologies such as satellite branches, automated teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale (POS) devices, mobile banks, and smart cards to reach the rural areas.