Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited (Opportunity International), in collaboration with the VISA Foundation, is implementing an Economic Recovery and Rebuild Initiative (ERRI) project to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on businesses of its existing clients through an interest buy-down and guarantee facility. With funding support from the VISA Foundation, the ERRI commenced in June 2021 and comes to a close in May 2022.
The main objective of the ERRI was to help reduce the interest burden of our existing clients by reimbursing them with 50 per cent of their interest amount. This is to reward our loyal clients while also encouraging new clients and defaulters to repay their loans so that they can benefit from such interventions.
The beneficiaries of this facility comprised individual women clients or groups with a majority women membership. Eighty-five per cent out of the total 852 beneficiaries were women.
One key qualification criteria used in the selection process for these clients was to complete their loan repayment without defaulting at the end of the maturity date and with a minimum loan cycle of seven – after which the client benefits from the interest buy-down in the form of a 50 per cent interest refund.
To avoid the culture of loan delinquency, the guarantee facility was not communicated to the beneficiaries. However, the agreed discounts were applied to the accounts of qualifying applicants.
Additionally, The UPS Foundation – which is similar to the VISA Foundation – redesigned its programme to create the financial and managerial capabilities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as well as connect them to both financial resources and the market through interest buy-downs to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Given this reason, the project reduced the interest rate of PWDs for both existing and new clients. A total of 56 PWDs benefitted from the project, with 31 of them being women.
On successful implementation of the ERRI project, a survey was conducted within the beneficiary communities to ascertain the impact of such an intervention and how the assistance has improved their lives. An overwhelming majority, 95 per cent of our clients, hailed the project as an important intervention at a time when COVID had disrupted many local and global production and distribution systems.
These responses are clear attestations of the positive impact that the ERRI project has had on our loan clients and Opportunity International as a business. Most importantly, the Opportunity International brand has been established within the beneficiary communities as one committed to not just conducting the business of banking but also to the overall development of its customer base.
Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited is a leading savings and loans institution in Ghana. Opportunity International is at the forefront of delivering transformational financial services to help transform the lives of clients. The Institution serves over 610,000 depositors with loans, deposit products and other services across 10 out of the 16 regions of the country. It operates in 23 countries across the globe serving nearly 10 million clients, with its Global office in Chicago, USA.
The Visa Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Visa, and works with charitable organisations to support underserved people and communities. As its central focus, the Visa Foundation is committed to helping low-income, financially underserved micro and small enterprises around the world to thrive and prosper.
The UPS Foundation has been leading UPS’s global citizenship efforts and philanthropy since 1951. The UPS Foundation’s philanthropic approach centres on four focus areas: health & humanitarian relief, equity and economic empowerment, local engagement and planet protection.