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Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2N8

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© 2019 Opportunity International Canadais a registered Canadian charity #877516385RR0001.

Microfinance 101 Best Practice

Opportunity works with local program partners on the ground, in the countries we work, to ensure we are understanding and meeting the needs of the families we seek to serve.

Local to the communities they serve, the loan officers and staff of these program partners speak the local languages, understand community challenges and concerns and, in doing so, enable you to have a greater impact.

Committed to helping families transform their lives, we only partner with capable local organizations that share our mission.

Mission Alignment

Local partners must share Opportunity’s values and objectives, and be unlikely to ‘sell out’ the poor to satisfy the financial requirements of funders. We look for partners:

  • With a primary objective of helping people out of poverty
  • Wherever possible, that work in the poorest, largely unserved regions
  • Operating within a market that exhibits a relevant ‘gap’, with conditions that are favourable for microfinance
  • With sound strategies that show their continued intent to help people out of poverty
  • That demonstrate a commitment to meeting people’s needs and having an impact.


Because we are committed to being good stewards of your donations, we partner with organizations that can operate sustainably. We look for partners with:

  • Excellent, inspiring leadership
  • Strong risk management and governance
  • A solid operating platform and capable staff
  • Good financial performance and an ability to manage significant growth
  • Comprehensive business plans and projections underpinning a sound future
  • A history of financial self-sufficiency or, for start-ups, a forecast to be so within two years.

The Partnership Process

  1. Initial partner assessment - If we assess likely mission alignment, we will fund a formal business planning exercise, a step that forms a key input for the next phase of the partnership process – due diligence. In some cases, information obtained in this phase has led to a decision not to proceed with a relationship.
  2. Detailed partner assessment - A due diligence exercise is conducted around mission alignment, performance and leadership credentials, together with an assessment of environmental risks. Our Investment Committee then reviews new partnership recommendations and proposals for ongoing support of existing partners, either passing a proposal on to our Board or making a decision not to proceed.
  3. Partnership agreements - If Board approval is obtained, normal transaction execution processes are undertaken in the form of alliance, debt and equity agreements (as applicable).
  4. Ongoing relationship management - This includes attendance at Board meetings of our program partners, meetings between program partners and our relationship managers, and monthly reporting by program partners of financial and operational performance.

We are in it for the long haul

We seek to build long-term partnerships to ensure families are being served effectively. 

We also seek to be a good steward of resources. Primarily, this involves working hard to achieve and maintain sustainability, meaning that our program partners operate without losing their capital. Opportunity works hard to keep interest rates as low as possible.

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