Opportunity International Savings and Loans (Opportunity International), a leading Savings and Loans Company in Ghana has held a 3rd graduation ceremony for twenty street porters known as ‘Kayayei’ at the GHACOE Women’s Ministry Training Center in Accra.
The company is dedicated to providing livelihood empowerment skills to these young women and girls living in deprived communities as part of its social interventions in communities it operate.
Opportunity International through this Youth Development Program provides alternative livelihood skills such as beads making, baking, production of varieties of soap and detergents to help improve the economic and social lives of these young and vulnerable girls. Most of them are school drop outs and they often migrate to the cities from rural parts of the country, particularly, the northern part in search of jobs as they seek for so called greener pastures.
These ladies who are exposed to the harsh realities of city life find themselves engaged in the street carrying heavy loads in markets to make a living. Others also provide support in traditional restaurants (chop bars) as dish washers and house helps. Most of these ladies sleep in slums and are often left at the mercy of the risk of sleeping on the streets and make shift structures.
The main objective of this project by Opportunity International is to give these ladies appropriate vocational skills as an alternative means of earning income. During the residential two weeks training program, the ladies were taken through financial literacy programs, business management and leadership skills to equip them with the relevant management and business skills to enable them run their businesses professionally and profitably.
The ladies were also educated on healthy lifestyle practices such as HIV/AIDS awareness, sexual reproductive health, and on their rights, domestic violence, maternal health and lessons in responsible motherhood.
Start-up kits were given to all the ladies at the graduation ceremony per their choice of specialization to help them start their own small scale enterprises.
During the presentation, Christie Love Koufie, Head of Transformation of Opportunity International, congratulated the ladies and urged them to use the acquired skills to help themselves and that of their families to live a better life.
The ultimate aim of this Youth Development program by Opportunity International Savings and Loans Company is to fulfil its social objective of reaching out to the marginalized in society to help better their lives. So far, this project has served a cumulative number of ninety-eight young ladies and helped to facilitate their movement away from the streets and starting their own micro enterprises after their graduation. About 60% of the ladies have also been able to relocate back to their families with more decent jobs and this has helped in achieving one of the goals of the project.
The project was funded by CarVal Investors Foundation in the United Kingdom. CarVal Investors foundation supports organizations that help the most vulnerable of the world’s people. The Foundation’s focus is primarily on education and leadership, poverty relief, health, and research. They work with Opportunity International in The UK who are represented in Ghana by Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited.
Opportunity International Savings and Loans serves over 580,000 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 micro loans, savings, micro insurance and non-financial services. The global office is based in Chicago, USA.