Opportunity International

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Recognized as a top International Microfinance nonprofit in the following years:
Medal-big-2009
Medal-big-2012
17 Thumbsup 3 Thumbsdown   Info-sm
"Up" is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. "Down" is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.
Opportunity-international
Headquarters Location: Oak Brook, IL
Founded:


Mission: Opportunity International's mission is to empower people to work their way out of chronic poverty, transforming their lives, their children’s futures and their communities.


Tags: 2012, international, microfinance, microinsurance, financial services

This organization has offices located worldwide. As the majority of our users are based in the U.S., the donation link is connected to the U.S. office.


Opportunity-international
Story: In Blantyre, Malawi, dozens of women sell potatoes in the marketplace. But Grace Msowoya and her business partner Betty Louhana stand out. Frustrated by their small profit margins, they became the first women to take the bold move of becoming… Read the full story.

Expert Reviews: Evidence of Impact
Opportunity International (OI) is one of the world’s largest microfinance networks in the world. They are an efficient organization that serves many people. OI works to maximize not only the financial impact that they make with clients, but also the potential social and spiritual impact that they can help produce. Their services; for example, their work in micro-insurance, has been a great asset to the sector.
See the complete expert review.

Leadership
Opportunity-international Vicki Escarra. Named to The NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 for 2010 and 2011, Vicki Escarra is a highly respected leader with a distinguished career as an executive in the nonprofit and corporate sectors. From 2006-2012, Ms. Escarra was president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. Prior to leading Feeding America, she served as… See full bio.


Transparency Information
Silver-big
This organization has earned the GuideStar Participation Level Silver, demonstrating its commitment to transparency (learn more)


Financial Data for US Office
Charity Navigator Rating: 3stars (profile)
Total Revenue:
$79,330,922


From the Nonprofit
The nonprofit has not added any comments yet. If you are a representative of this nonprofit and would like to leave a comment, please email us at feedback@myphilanthropedia.org with your request.


Contact Info
E-Mail:
Phone:
800.7WE.WILL      
Facebook:
Follow_fb
Address:
2122 York Road Suite 150
 
Oak Brook, IL 60523, USA
Twitter:
Follow_twitter


Opportunity-international Story: In Blantyre, Malawi, dozens of women sell potatoes in the marketplace. But Grace Msowoya and her business partner Betty Louhana stand out. Frustrated by their small profit margins, they became the first women to take the bold move of becoming distributors themselves. Every two weeks, they withdraw money from their Opportunity savings to rent a truck. They hire a driver and spend several days on the road to get potatoes directly from farmers, which they then sell to other vendors.

Before Grace became an Opportunity International client in 2007, she kept her hard-earned money hidden in her home. Now, she and Betty are earning interest on nearly $2,000 in a joint savings account. With her biometric-enabled card she can safely deposit and easily access her money at the Opportunity banking kiosk, just 100 meters from her business.

Grace and Betty’s courage has paid off. They have dramatically increased profits and redefined the place of women in the local market. And Grace has already made great strides in a short time as an Opportunity client. She has earned enough money to move her family from two small rooms to a two bedroom home, and all three of her children attend school.

Expert Reviews of Opportunity International

Evidence of Impact Summary:

Opportunity International (OI) is one of the world’s largest microfinance networks in the world. They are an efficient organization that serves many people. OI works to maximize not only the financial impact that they make with clients, but also the potential social and spiritual impact that they can help produce. Their services; for example, their work in micro-insurance, has been a great asset to the sector.
See expert comments.

Organization Strengths Summary:

Opportunity International (OI) is quite strong in its organizational operations. They have excellent procedures and technical support, as well as a great capacity for problem-solving. OI staff members are experienced and capable. The organization is grounded in a faith-based approach which supports their work in many ways. For example, they are able to mobilize the Christian business community.
See expert comments.

Areas for Improvement Summary:

Opportunity International (OI) may want to further examine their communication strategies. Internally, having a network of many dispersed international organizations makes timely communication difficult. Externally, OI could collaborate more widely and share lessons learned. While the organization has been working toward this goal, OI should continue to work at being more responsive to their clients. Parts of the OI identity may be muddled at times. For example, one expert was unclear about the role that OI’s faith-based orientation plays for various organizational stakeholders.
See expert comments.

Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
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Foundation Professionals (F)
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Researchers and Faculty (R)
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Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
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Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Beyond Financial Outcomes

N
Opportunity International has grown into the third largest microfinance network in the world. Not only have they become recognized worldwide, the group is also intentional about serving the triple bottom line: transformational impact, large-scale outreach, and financial sustainability. OI looks to bring about one of seven dimensions of foundational needs: 1) Dignity, 2) Authority, 3) Security, 4) Adequate Provision, 5) Purpose, Hope, and Meaning, 6) Freedom and Adequate Boundaries, and 7) Authentic Relationships and Love.
N
Opportunity International has conducted impact studies looking at change on economic, social, and spiritual dimensions. Some of these studies show important changes.

Strong Programs & Services

N
Opportunity International runs a highly efficient, large microfinance institution that reaches large scale by serving many people with basic financial services.
N
Their impact can be seen in the development of micro-insurance and the success of Opportunity Bank Malawi.
N
OI has a long track record in the industry and has been a benefit to many clients over its decades of existence.
O
They offer strong support to microfinance institutions partners to develop systems and improve social performance.
O
OI is having a broad impact in many countries, and has innovated across the product development and product delivery space. They care passionately for the poor, offering a variety of loan products, insurance products, and savings vehicles. They deliver their products and services through brick-and-mortar branches, through retail kiosks and agents, and through trucks serving as branches-on-wheels.


Expert Comments: Organization Strengths

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

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X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Strong Operations

N
They are committed to standardization, and they have excellent procedures and technical support throughout the network. Their use of technology is also pioneering.
N
They have a strong emphasis on professionalism in service delivery. They also have the capacity to innovate in order to tackle important problems, like information asymmetry and risk management for agricultural lending. Their ownership of microfinance institutions does give them a stronger ability to see projects or innovations through using a more indirect approach.
N
They are very strong with technology and operations. They have deep expertise in microfinance from many years of experience at all levels in their organization. They also have highly qualified, reliable, and competent people on staff.

Excellent Staff

N
The organization attracts very capable people with relevant private sector experience. They are able to work well with extreme geographic decentralization

Faith-Based Approach

N
OI has a strong commitment to ending poverty based on its faith-based roots. It also has a strong financial base given its ability to mobilize the Christian business community. This also gives it access to people with business and management experience to run its programs.
O
I have the highest regard for OI's management team, and for the integrity with which they do business. And as a faith-based organization, I feel they demonstrate sensitivity and balance in making known their faith-based backgrounds without any heavy-handed imposition of beliefs on their customers. Rather, they are committed to serving all peoples and treating them with fairness and respect.

Examplary Work

N
Opportunity International is strong in building guiding examples of microfinance in action, especially in Malawi.


Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement

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X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
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Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
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Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Be More Client-Centered

N
Although they have already worked toward this, they could continue to improve on being client-centric in their model. They could also improve on attracting equity holders with less divergent interests.
N
They have high effective interest rates, which can have a negative impact on beneficiaries on the long run.

Improve Communication

N
They could enhance their impact with more collaboration and sharing of lessons learned.
N
The connected organizations are too dispersed and separate. It causes difficulty in communication and unified movement.
N
They have not been very engaged in the global microfinance policy debates and correspondingly have not developed a distinctive voice or point of view.

Leadership Challenges

N
Internal leadership has been a challenge in the past couple of years. Hopefully, these transitions are now behind them.

Struggling with Organizational Identity

N
The Christian orientation of the organization can also be a deterrent to attracting a broader spectrum of management (although I hear different opinions as to whether proselytizing is really part of the "package" to clients). They also have something of an "identity crisis" in that they have both independent affiliates and wholly owned subsidiaries in their network.


Leadership

Opportunity-international
Vicki Escarra
Incoming CEO
Named to The NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 for 2010 and 2011, Vicki Escarra is a highly respected leader with a distinguished career as an executive in the nonprofit and corporate sectors. From 2006-2012, Ms. Escarra was president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. Prior to leading Feeding America, she served as chief marketing officer for Delta Airlines Inc. Ms. Escarra led Feeding America through the most significant period of advancement in its three-decade history, elevating it to a $1.2 billion organization. She oversaw the organization through a transition from America’s Second Harvest to Feeding America, increased fundraising by 300 percent, and almost doubled the number of people served who were living in poverty or food insecurity. Under her leadership, Feeding America also established several corporate partnerships with multimillion dollar commitments from Walmart, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Kraft, General Mills and others, growing revenue by four times. Additionally, Ms. Escarra successfully led two major pieces of national legislation providing millions of dollars to increase the amount of healthy food for lower income families. She has been profiled in numerous media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today and CBS Evening News. In her longstanding career with Delta Airlines Inc., Ms. Escarra ascended through several leadership positions and ultimately became the company’s chief marketing officer. As one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry, she oversaw $15 billion in revenue and led a work force of 52,000. Ms. Escarra actively participates in community and civic service. She served on the board of directors for the financial services company, AG Edwards, from 2004 to 2007, and is currently on the board of HealthNet Corporation and the board of regents for Roosevelt University. She was also chairman of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and assisted Mayor Shirley Franklin with the Brand Atlanta Campaign. Ms. Escarra received her degree from Georgia State University and completed the Columbia Executive Management Program and the Harvard Leadership Program. She resides in Chicago where she is a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church. Her two grown daughters, Emily and Kathryn, also live in Chicago.

From the Nonprofit

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