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Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2N8

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© 2020 Opportunity International Canadais a registered Canadian charity #877516385RR0001.

2017 Annual Report

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Letter from the CEO

Dear Friends,

“Things are getting better,” wrote Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling in his 2018 book, Factfulness. Rosling believed the world is making remarkable progress and the latest World Bank figures on poverty support his thesis. In 1990, almost 31% of the world’s population was living in poverty and by 2015, this number had fallen to 10.7% (767 million people). We are on the road to ending poverty. 

2017 was a banner year for Opportunity International Canada. Global Affairs Canada entered into a $19.9 million partnership with us to promote Financial Inclusion for Enterprise Development in Ghana. The project will strive to serve 18,000 Small and Medium Enterprise clients (SME) to create 50,000 jobs that will impact 200,000 indirect people over the next 4 years. 

Education Finance continued to pioneer new solutions. By the end of 2017, Opportunity globally reached 2.3 million children in 14 countries. Opportunity Canada partnered specifically in the Dominican Republic and India. 

Our “Least of These” (LOT) Education Program in the Dominican Republic moved beyond the pilot phase; Rotary continues to partner with us in Honduras; we developed a formal Implementing Partner relationship with the Investing Hope Foundation in Colombia; and we continue to grow our programs in Bihar, India.      

Closer to home, in 2017 our Opportunity International Canada family welcomed John Mach and Crae Garrett to our Board of Directors, and Cathy Fraser and Colleen Goldberg to our staff. A heartfelt thanks goes out to our inspiring Board of Directors who are a pleasure to work with. We also thank departing Board members Bill Watson and Rod Wilkinson for their service and dedication, and especially want to recognize Bob Lawless for his outstanding commitment and leadership as our former Board Chair. 

Finally, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our committed, energetic and professional staff and our matchless, tireless volunteers, whose service and efforts are demonstrated on the following pages.        

It is an exciting time to be working in microfinance to end world poverty. We empower without enabling unhealthy habits. And none of it would be possible without our generous donors who work and believe and hope right along with us. Thank you for your support. 

Thank you on behalf of the 767 million we are trying to reach. Thank you for having the compassion to see they are not just a number. They are mothers and fathers and children with names and stories — and they deserve a chance to live lives free from the bonds of poverty.

Dale Patterson
President/CEO, Opportunity International Canada

Board of Directors

Wally Budgell
Robertson Bright
Mississauga, ON 

John Mach
ComTech Fire Credit Union
Toronto, ON

Lise Owen Struthers
Not For Profit
Oakville, ON

Oricel Caminero
Board Chair, ASPIRE
Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic

Heiner Ophardt
Ophardt Hygiene Technologies Inc.
Vineland, ON

Paul Verhoeff
Advance Flooring Inc.
Calgary, AB 

John de Bruyn
John de Bruyn
Professional Corporation
Canmore, AB

Dale Patterson
Chair, Board of Directors
Opportunity International Canada
Toronto, ON

David Stiller
Opportunity International Canada
London, ON 

Crae Garrett
Partner and Head of Energy
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
Calgary, AB

Stan Pauls
Vice President of Sales
and Marketing
Decor Cabinets
Morden, MB 

David Bussau
Opportunity International Australia

Microfinance 101

Breaking the Cycle

Around the world, 767 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. What is needed is an outside intervention at the household level to curb the poverty cycle

A Sustainable Intervention

Because microfinance revolves around the concept of loans repaid, not hand-outs, it is one of the few remedies for poverty that can be self-sustaining.

The poor in the developing world work hard. Opportunity International has found that if we provide them with the tools to succeed in their own enterprises, they respond with staggering zeal: we serve 9.4million microentrepreneurs in 21 countries; they have a 99% loan repayment rate.

Global Impact 2017

Clients in 21 Countries
$2.46 Billion
Loaned in 2017
Repayment Rate
Clients With Insurance
Average First Time Loan
Of Clients Are Women
Savings Account Clients
Savings On Deposit
Average Savings Account Balance
Children Impacted by Edufinance Since 2008
Clients Registered For Digital Banking
New Clients Registered For Digital Banking in 2017

Meet Veronica

Veronica and her husband were raising four children in a leaky home of plywood and plastic when they first received a loan from Opportunity International to build wooden hot dog carts. Veronica was nervous about their $67 loan. Fast forward 17 years, and Veronica is on her 13th loan cycle, working to repay a $1,000 loan. She and her husband run 3 hot dog carts made of stainless steel and employ one other person. Their two oldest children also run their own businesses. “Because someone had confidence in me, I had confidence to grow my business,” Veronica says. “All that I’ve achieved – is because of opportunity.”

In 2017, Opportunity International Canada provided microfinance services in:


 Democratic Republic of CongoKenyaRwanda 
Dominican Republic MalawiSerbia 
HondurasPhilipines Zimbabwe 

*Opportunity International Canada focuses on working in highlighted countries.

Opportunity International has Support Members in Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, United States

Microfinance Plus+


Opportunity International’s goal is the same in 2017 as it was when we started in 1971 – to pioneer smart solutions to the challenge of poverty. Poverty is complex and economic freedom is only part of the solution. Listening carefully to clients, Opportunity International is using a multi-pronged approach to address the most urgent issues affecting the poor:

Meet Jose

Jose runs a pharmacy. Two years ago, he also became an Opportunity International Point Of Sale representative. POS locations allow Opportunity partners to serve in poor areas without the expense of a fully serviced office. Clients can come to Jose’s pharmacy to repay loans and make deposits. Each time he reaches $2,600 in deposits, Jose travels an hour into the capital to deposit it at the Coop-ASPIRE Bank. “This isn’t about me. It helps my community,” he says.

Project Updates


Partners: AGAPE (training); OICCF (financial services); Investing Hope Foundation (IHF)

Microfinance Plus+: Water Sanitation training; Youth Financial Literacy

Opportunity International has been working in Colombia for almost 47 years. In fact, the first Opportunity loan in 1971 was given by a Canadian in
Colombia. 2017 projects included:

  • Loans, Savings and Training to 1,226 microentrepreneurs in Bogotá, Cartagena and Carmen de Bolivar through a partnership with Opportunity UK, AGAPE and OICCF.
  • Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Training Curriculum was developed with the Canadian Association for Participatory Development 
  • 167 clients undertook WASH training
  • By training marginalized youth and their families how to manage their money through savings groups, Canadians and IHF are helping over 2,000 people achieve long-term financial resiliency



Microfinance Plus+: Health Clinic partnerships; Literacy Training

Opportunity’s partner in Nicaragua, ASODENIC, has provided global leadership in the provision of holistic microfinance services for over 22 years. In 2017, Opportunity Canada focused on funding microfinance services in rural Jinotega:

  • 240 Jinotega microentrepreneurs received loans and training through trust group and solidarity group loans.
  • Health Care partnerships were established: a local doctor and medical students offered health clinics to clients focusing on disease prevention. An optometrist also provided clients with access to discounted eye exams and glasses.
  • Literacy Training was made available to 20 clients unable to read and write through a partnership with the Nicaraguan government.

Dominican Republic

Partners: ASPIRE and Co-Op ASPIRE

Microfinance Plus+: School Improvement Loans; Special Education Grants

Opportunity has been working in the Dominican Republic (DR) for 34 years. Recognizing the vital role education plays in fighting poverty, in 2014, our Dominican partners developed a School Improvement Loan. Cumulatively, 600 schools and 90,000 students have benefited. Last year, EduFinance clients (school principals) sought help meeting mandates for inclusive education for children with special needs. In response, Canadian donors supported a study identifying inclusive education opportunities.

  • ASPIRE ran two awareness campaigns identifying FIVE SCHOOLS interested in becoming model pilot schools for children with special needs. Building accessibility alterations have started in two schools.
  • Training for parents, teachers, and communities has begun and will be the key to long-term success since there are few resources for special education in the DR.
  • 18 scholarships have been created to support parents of children with special needs.
  • A special educational consultant, trained in the US, has been hired to lead the initiative and provide specialized teacher training.


Partner: IDH

Microfinance Plus+: Mobile Banking; remittances; lines of credit; term deposits.

With 63.8% of the population living below the national poverty line, Honduras has been a focus of Opportunity International programs for over 43 years. In 2017, the nation was further rocked by political crisis. Seeking both impact and sustainability, Opportunity International’s partner targeted Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) clients as, on average, they employ three others. It’s a strategy that’s working: IDH ranks first among 27 microfinance organizations in Honduras. In partnership with private donors and Rotary Clubs
in both Canada and Honduras, in 2017, Opportunity International Canada focused on:

  • Funding a Management Information System empowering IDH to become a regulated financial institution, allowing a greater range of services to more clients in years to come.
  • Benefiting 2,800 clients
  • Generating over 7,000 jobs
  • And Impacting almost 14,000 family members
  • Establishing operations in San Pedro Sula, Santa Barbara, Quimistan and La Ceiba


Partners: Global Affairs Canada, Sinapi Aba Trust / Savings & Loans

Microfinance Plus+: Agricultural Finance, Education Finance, Water Sanitation training, networking events, Womens’ Small Medium Enterprise conferences, industry research

Opportunity International Canada has partnered with the Canadian government (Global Affairs Canada) in microfinance projects five times over the last 20 years. In 2017, we began our largest project to promote Financial Inclusion for Enterprise Development (FINEDEV) in Ghana. A four-year venture ($19.9M project), FINEDEV aims to increase access to financial services and business training for SME clients in Ghana, especially women.

  • Serving 18,000 clients with small loans and training
  • Creating or sustaining 50,000 jobs
  • Impacting 200,000 family members in a way that is sustainable, innovative and inclusive. 


Partners: Opportunity International Australia, Cashpor, Healing Fields Foundation

Microfinance Plus+: Pensions, Microinsurance, Community Health programs, Toilet, and Safe Water Pump loans

Currently, Opportunity International serves over
3 million families in India through 14 partners. The average loan is just CDN$70. In 2017, Opportunity International Canada partnered with Opportunity International Australia to spearhead a project in the poorest state of Bihar using microfinance as a platform to deliver basic services. This partnership will:

  • Provide 186,000 loans and 35,000 savings accounts to women entrepreneurs in Bihar. 
  • Scale up a Community Health Leader program by training 735 clients to deliver health education in their communities. Currently, 79% of households in Bihar practice open defecation and rely on unsafe water supplies, unaware of the link between health and hygiene.
  • Provide 150,000 families increased access to clean water pumps and toilets by providing $100 toilet loans.

Meet Aira

Aira teaches fourth grade at Colegio Cristiana Berea. Her school has 325 students who pay $87 per month to attend. Recently Aira attended training provided by Opportunity International’s partner on inclusive education for kids with special needs. She now has three special needs students in her class, and feels confident using drama, art, and other creative methods to teach them. “I learned that these kids can do things. They aren’t limited,” she says.

You and Opportunity

Because microfinance is based on smart economics, when you donate to Opportunity International, you are empowering successive waves of microentrepreneurs a chance to take their first step out of the poverty cycle:

Financial Statements

Download Our Audited Financial Statements


The mission of Opportunity International Canada could not continue without your gifts of time and financial resources. We are grateful for your support and trust you have enjoyed seeing the impact your gifts have had through our client stories. The financial numbers found on the top of this page also tell a wonderful story. Here are some notes to guide you through:

A. Our revenue totaling $8.9M in 2017 ($8.5M in 2016) comes from Canadian individual and institutional donors, private foundations, charities and technical grants. The strength of our ministry is rooted in our generous donors who faithfully gave $3.6M in 2017 and $3.4M in 2016. In 2016, we also received $4.7M from The MasterCard Foundation for the Africa Growth and Innovations Project which brought the 2016 balance for this revenue category to $8.1M.

B. In 2017, we were thrilled to receive a four-year grant totaling $20M from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for the Financial Inclusion for Enterprise Development Project in Ghana (see page 8), the first $5M of which was received this year. The remaining funding of $301K and $374K received in 2017 and 2016 respectively was from The Rotary Club of Calgary West for the Honduras Economic Development Project (see page 7).

C. Our unique and innovative programming is highlighted in our international disbursements ($4.9M in 2017 and $6.5M in 2016). We have continued to focus on our foundational programs, disbursing a total of $1.9M (2016 – $2.1M) to EduFinance, Microfinance Operations, Loan Funds, Training and Transformation. (see pie chart)

The $1.6M decrease in disbursements results from our new partnership with GAC. Our GAC Project has a fiscal year of April 1 to March 31, which corresponds with the Federal Government’s year-end of March 31. The $5M grant was received in OIC’s 2017 year, however, the Year 1 Project activities will not be completed until March 31, 2018. $3.3M has been expended on program activities (both in Canada – $0.3M and in Ghana – $3M) during 2017, with the remaining $1.7M to be expended in 2018. The $2.1M excess of revenue over expenditures contains the GAC Project funds held on reserve.

We trust you have enjoyed this Annual Report and have been able to get a sense of the impact your donations have made.

Download The 2017 Annual Report

Title Photo: Eleven years ago, Gloria purchased a bag of tamarind, made a batch of juice and a business was born. Each morning, she and her husband Miguel go to the market to buy fruit, then, with their two employees, use two small blenders to combine fruit, sugar and water to make 10 different flavors of juice. They produce close to 100 gallons per day. With their first Opportunity International loan, they bought a truck to offer juice delivery. Today they have a growing savings account and are dreaming of opening a restaurant.


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