Opportunity International, a global nonprofit microfinance institution headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, has announced a $2.5 million grant from the John Deere Foundation to expand access to financial services for farmers and entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Awarded to the organization's Banking on Africa initiative, the grant will be used to expand access to lending, personal savings accounts, small business insurance, and education for farmers and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda. The effort is expected to complement the organization's work with extension services and output markets to improve crop productivity, increase farmer incomes, and bolster the food supply in local communities.
Ultimately, the initiative aims to introduce 450 new access sites, extend agricultural loans to more than 500,000 new clients — including 95,000 farmers — and open 1.4 million interest-bearing savings accounts, including as many as 950,000 in rural areas.
"We are impressed with the progress that Opportunity International has made in increasing access to financial services for African farmers, food processors, and retailers," said Deere Foundation vice president John Bustle. "Likewise, we are excited and optimistic about Opportunity's ongoing efforts to create a sustainable framework for enhanced food security through increased food production, food availability at local markets and family income to purchase food."