Jakobo Chikayiko, known to his friends and neighbors as Jakob, is a smallholder farmer in Malawi who lives deep in the rural northern region. Traveling over one hour from the capital city, Lilongwe, and then an additional 30 minutes over rough, dirt roads, Opportunity Malawi loan officer Chabubo Mzuma knows well the serpentine paths to reach his client. Chabubo visits Jakob and his family regularly to discuss the progress of his loans and his crops.
Opportunity makes agricultural loans to Jakob to support his three-and-a-half acres of maize, enabling him to employ seasonal workers to help plant and harvest his crops. As part of the agricultural loan program, Opportunity also provides him with improved seeds, helping his crops to thrive.
Jakob takes advantage of Opportunity’s other financial products, including weather-indexed crop insurance. After the loss of his father to starvation during a drought in 2002, the insurance helps Jakob protect himself and his family from the effects of climate change and inclement weather.
Regarding crop insurance, Jakob says: “Before, I harvested three oxcarts of maize. Now I am harvesting six. I will be food-sufficient and also be able to lease additional land to plant cash crops. I am planning to introduce irrigation.”
Opportunity continues to expand its outreach to both agricultural and non-agricultural borrowers and savers in rural Africa. Through strategic partnerships with organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation, CreditSuisse and Omidyar Network, Opportunity is deploying a range of cost-effective delivery channels, including satellite bank branches, bank kiosks, mobile banking vans, ATMs and point-of-sale devices. With these innovative financial tools and delivery methods, Opportunity is working to expand its reach to 950,000 African clients like Jakob, who live in the most geographically remote areas on the continent.