Back in April, I learned about Opportunity International from a fellow STA Business Architect, Damian Leonard. After doing a couple of searches and browsing their website, OI sounded like an interesting organization. Initially, I was attracted to their work to empower women globally, but I was also excited to see how Business Architecture could be utilized to assist the non-profit organization.
After our first meeting with OI, we learned that they were looking for a corporate engagement tool to encourage small to medium sized businesses and their employees to donate to OI’s mission of empowering those living in poverty to transform their lives. Transformation is a common theme that both OI and STA Group share. Certainly, we could use our strategies for business transformation to help OI transform the lives of their clients and their clients’ communities.
What better way to experience the transformation than to take a trip to visit the clients and see for myself? I signed up to partake in the Colombia Insight Trip, and knew I would have a chance to travel to Bogota and Cartagena. In Bogota, only individual loans are available to clients. In Cartagena, where the clients live poorer communities, programs such as trust group loans and lockbox savings are available.
My favorite thing about Opportunity and its NGO partner, AGAPE, is their ability to help their clients build a life for themselves, their family, and their communities. The loans are not donations. Opportunity International provides small business and home loans to clients who would not be able to obtain a loan in the traditional banking system for various reasons. Not only are these loans available to them, but clients are introduced to programs that allow them to save for their future, and insure against unforeseen crisis.
In visiting these clients, I was able to see the impact these loans had through the success of the business, the hiring of employees, and building of a new home. With the impact this organization creates, donating to OI’s clients is not a handout, but a hand up.
Learn more about Nida’s trip and read through her daily diary.
About the author: Nida Khoutakoun has been a Business Architect with STA Group since 2012.