Will Help Thousands of Entrepreneurs Work Their Way Out of Poverty
Oak Brook, Ill. – Nov. 1, 2007 – A century ago, two men on a bicycle received a $100 loan to start a delivery service company which grew into the $47.5 billion UPS. In recognition of its 100th anniversary, The UPS Foundation today announced a $390,000 grant to Opportunity International, one of the world’s largest microfinance organizations, which provides loans to more than one million poor entrepreneurs in 28 developing countries worldwide.
Opportunity International serves small entrepreneurs with a hand up, not a hand out, through business loans, savings programs, business development training and insurance products tailored to their specific needs. Micro-entrepreneurs use these tools to start or expand a business, develop a steady income, provide food, clothing, shelter and education for their families and create jobs for their neighbors.
“Opportunity International and UPS were both built on the power of entrepreneurship. As UPS recognizes its 100th year in business and Opportunity International celebrates its one millionth active loan client, we have an extraordinary opportunity to partner together to provide critical financial services to the poorest of the working poor around the world,” said Christopher A. Crane, president and CEO of Opportunity International.
With The UPS Foundation grant, Opportunity International will make loans to new clients in 15 countries, including: China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. The initial grant will help nearly 5,000 poor entrepreneurs and will impact more than 37,000 lives, including family members, employees and their families. Because of Opportunity International’s high loan repayment rate of 98 percent, the money will be loaned again and again to help thousands more people work their way out of poverty over the next decade.
“As UPS expands into new markets around the globe, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help those communities thrive,” said Lisa Hamilton, president, The UPS Foundation. “We chose Opportunity International as our partner because of its proven record of helping entrepreneurs grow, not just through loans but also through training and education.”
UPS Gift to Enhance “$1 Billion for 100 Million People” Campaign
The UPS Foundation grant is the latest in a series of high-profile contributions to Opportunity International as it executes a campaign to mobilize $1 billion over the next six years to benefit 100 million poor people by 2015. Opportunity International has recently received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($5.4 million grant and a $10 million loan), the Caterpillar Foundation ($1.2 million) and Lenovo Corporation ($1 million in computer hardware). John and Jacque Weberg, long-time supporters of Opportunity International, announced plans in 2006 to give $5 million annually for the next 10 years, the largest individual gift ever to a microfinance organization.