The Oak Brook, Illinois based organization has clients in over 20 countries that use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future.
SVM CEO, Marshall Reavis, first encountered Opportunity International (OI) in the Chicago area, attending events that featured both OI personnel and loan recipients from around the world. As with others interested in OI’s work, Marshall was encouraged to take a vision trip to one of the microloan banks in the developing world.
Discussion of this trip sparked interest for Reavis’ daughter Emily (20 years old) to attend an Opportunity International presentation on the treatment of women in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moved by what she saw during a film session, she felt compelled to take a vision trip to Africa herself. Coincidentally, or perhaps a moment of divine intervention at play, OI was having a vision trip to Ghana at the same time as her Fall break from college.
During that trip to Ghana, the Reavis’ were able to meet with numerous members of the Opportunity International Ghana staff to learn about how they take their products to market. They then met with about a dozen “Trust Groups”. These groups (comprised of ten to twelve individuals) are the groups that receive and repay the loans. The Trust Groups act as a support structure, if someone within the group is unable to make one of his/her weekly payments, the group pitches in to ensure the loan remains in good standing. Most of the Trust Groups the Reavis’ met during their visit were on their fourth, fifth or higher loan cycle; meaning repayments have been met and new and larger loans are being granted.
The vision trip also allowed for the Reavis’ to meet with loan recipients in the field and to visit two schools that are funded by microloans. For Emily, this was probably the most rewarding part of the trip as she had developed a real connection with the children.
Another highlight from the trip was their stop at the Accra Cultural Center. This is a marketplace comprised of numerous stalls of various merchandise for sale by Opportunity International loan recipients. The purchases the Reavis’ made at the Center made the gift giving upon their return home that much more special.
Turn learn more about Opportunity International, visit: www.opportunity.org