Jim Frantz and Olga Perez have dedicated their lives to serving the poor. Working at our bank in Opportunity Colombia, they see triumph and heartbreak. Their story today was one of transformation.
Colombia is an exciting place for microfinance. With almost 50% of Colombians living below the poverty line, and with so many displaced people, access to financial services is not only a desire for many people. It is a necessity.
Jim, Chief Transformation Officer, and Olga, Loan Officer Supervisor and former client of Opportunity International, are in the business of transformation. Not only do they provide loans to people, not only are they helping the bank apply for a license to collect deposits, not only are they offering business training, but they are transforming Colombia, client by client.
Olga’s own journey of transformation is inspiring:
“I was sixteen years old,” she starts. “I started selling products out of a catalog. I did this to be able to help with my own personal costs and my school costs. There was a loan officer from Opportunity who came where I was living and invited me to a meeting. I took a loan because I wanted to increase my income and invest in my business, so I could have a bigger profit.”
Olga became the leader of her Trust Group.
“They trusted me because I had good leadership, and I knew how to do a little bit of bookkeeping. I received three loans. On my third loan, somebody told me about an opening at Opportunity for a Loan Officer. I submitted my resume, and I got the job.
“It was very exciting to work with Opportunity. It was a really big challenge. I had two hundred clients in ten Trust Groups. At that time they were having a lot of problems with their payments. I had to motivate them.
“Within a year, I was promoted to loan officer supervisor, where I now supervise six Loan Officers. As of today my Loan Officers have 1,620 clients.”
Her recipe for success? “Work together as a team, love what you’re doing, work closely with your clients and have clear communication.”
When she was poor, Olga could not afford to go to school. Now she is entering a program in business administration, thanks to the help that Opportunity gave her as a client and now as an employee.