5.05.2008

A Dollar with Opportunity Goes A Long Way

Ten dollars for a family in poverty here in the US might be enough to buy them a meager dinner at Boston Market.  Overseas, via Opportunity International, it can lift that family out of poverty.

Such is the power of the multiplier effect of microlending: Opportunity makes a small loan, usually to a woman, and that woman is able to get a business going that makes enough money over time to pay back the loan and sustain the family. 

Two representatives from Opportunity, one from locally and one from headquarters in Chicago, visited me this morning to tell me that they figured out how many families they'd gotten out of poverty over a ten-year period, and divided it by the amount of donations they'd received from people like me (I've been giving since the mid-1990's), and determined that it took ten dollars to get one family out of poverty.  At that rate, they told me, I had helped over 1500 families out of poverty in Uganda, where I've directed my giving: literally an entire village.

Fortunately, others are getting hip to the power of microlending and the competency of Opportunity in administering such programs effectively.  None other than Bill Gates had his foundation vet them rigorously, and, after they passed snuff, has begun giving them millions of dollars to lift the rural poor in Africa out of their economic plight.  Not surprisingly, other foundations and individuals are stepping up now, too: "if Opportunity is good enough for Bill Gates, they're good enough for us."

I'm glad to have been a regular donor all these years, even gladder than Opportunity is getting to grow to scale as more people step up to donate.   After all, a dollar with them goes a long way, and while millions of people have been helped, so many more need it. 
Post a Comment