Mother's Day

05.06.1310:05 PM ET

Honoring Mom By Investing In Women Abroad

A microfinance pioneer launches an online digital quilt to pay tribute to mothers by investing in the developing world's female entrepreneurs.

Plum out of original ideas for a gift to get mom on May 12? Just in time for Mother's Day this year, the non-profit microfinance pioneer Opportunity International has launched a campaign to honor a mother by investing in a woman abroad.

Called "Invest in One, Honor Mom," the project centers around a digital quilt made up of patches—which can be purchased for $5 and up—dedicated to a mother or special woman, along with an honorary message. The funds—which will be matched by Opportunity's donors—go to help provide loans to women in countries such as Ghana and Kenya, to help them transform their lives and lift their communities out of poverty. Below, read about three female entrepreneurs who work with the organization to kickstart local business in Africa:

Eugenie Nyirabagenzi with her children. (Opportunity International)


Rwanda, Farmer

Eugenie owns a three-acre rice farm in Rwamagana, Rwanda. Until she became an Opportunity International client, she couldn't afford to hire workers during the planting and harvesting seasons, and she barely made enough money to make ends meet. Today, Opportunity provides her with agricultural loans, financial literacy training, a safe place to save, and crop insurance. With her increased profits, she is able to hire three neighbors and feed her children more nutritious meals.

"I feel more secure now and I have increased hope for my life," Eugenie says. She dreams of the day when she will be able to purchase two more acres of land and enroll her children in good schools. One woman...feeding her family and her community.

Felicitus Mmboge at work and with her daughter. (Kate Holt/Opportunity International)


Kenya, Beauty Products Retailer

To escape poverty and a lack of opportunity in her small village in Western Kenya, Felicitus came to Nairobi to work as a maid. She saved up enough money to open a beauty products business and then took a loan from Opportunity International to purchase inventory. A second loan enabled her to rebuild her business after her shop was robbed. Felicitus also keeps chickens and sells the eggs to add to her income, which goes toward school fees for her three children and an orphaned niece.

Today, Felicitus uses her cell phone as a bank, which saves her a lot of time and money on travel. She deposits and transfers money, pays for goods, accepts payments and even receives and repays her Opportunity loans—all while she attends to her business. One woman...using Opportunity and technology to increase her income and provide a better life for her children.

Betty Mulooki with her family. (Abby Ross/Opportunity International)


Uganda, Sugar Cane Farmer

With seven children to care for, 58-year-old Betty is a subsistence farmer, as is her husband, and her family depends entirely on their bounty for both sustenance and income. But cultivating maize, beans, cassava and sweet potatoes amid unreliable harvests was not enough.

On the rare occasion when Betty had extra food, she would sell it in the nearby market, using the profits to support her family with home necessities like salt, sugar and paraffin.

Something sparked inside Betty when she was able to trade in the market. So when a sugar cane factory was established in her village (about 100 meters from her compound), she jumped at the chance to be a part of it and secured support from the factory to cultivate three acres. With the additional help of small business loan from Opportunity International and the support of her family, she was able to expand her garden to six acres.

But Betty keeps dreaming. She wants to expand the current acreage so that she can help her children finish their education. For Betty, sugarcane production is the vehicle that will help her break her family free from poverty and she will not stop working until that happens. One woman… earning success then growing it to break her family out of the poverty cycle.