Opportunity Bank inspires girl children from the depths of their banking halls.
Girls’ empowerment across Africa is essential: Often marginalised by patriarchy, particularly vulnerable to poverty and with fewer opportunities to attain financial support, girls find it more difficult to become successful women, especially in poor communities.
It’s why girls’ empowerment matters and why Opportunity Bank, a division of MyBucks SA, in conjunction with UK Aid and Opportunity International, recently undertook a ground-breaking initiative called the Empowerment of Girls’ Education (EGE), which saw girl children from 132 schools across Uganda visit 19 Opportunity Bank branches in an effort to educate and inspire them:
> “Here, they experienced the real banking environment by taking a tour of our banking halls,” explains Tineyi Mawocha CEO of Opportunity Bank Uganda, “They met with our inspired staff and came to learn how customers perform transactions both over the counter and digitally. It was a hugely successful and highly valued initiative, for both the bank and the children.”
The hope that a tour of a bank can inspire a career path in the financial sector or, at the very least, can encourage girl children to stay in school and work hard, is one worth fighting for. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often and could sincerely change lives:
> “The message was a simple, but profound one from the staff at Opportunity: Study hard and stay in school if you want to get a good job and enjoy a promising future. It is vital to do so and an important lesson to learn as early as possible.”
The future of Africa is a hopeful one but requires the foresight of forward-thinking organisations to realise how inspiration can be born from seemingly nothing or lost entirely if nothing inspires at all. Having something to work towards is an important part of the fuel that will drive the success of the broader programme, beyond the more obvious benefits to be found in the adjoining school support.
Over three years, the EGE programme will see as many as 132 schools receive financial support to the amount of £326,100:
> “It is all part of a larger narrative undertaken to empower as many girl children as possible. Support in any way is essential as the next decade rolls in and it’s important that our girl children are ready. They will form the backbone of our future economy, with much of their success hinging on initiatives like EGE and others like it.”
The EGE follows on from an earlier programme, the Girls Education Challenge (GEC), co-ordinated and sponsored by the same group of visionaries. It sought to support marginalised girls at primary and secondary education level by disbursing as many as 4065 school-fee loans and funding school improvement projects to the total amount of £750,000.
> “The GEC was a huge success,” explains Tineyi Mawocha CEO of Opportunity Bank Uganda
> “It was the foundation upon which the EGE could be built and proof that support can change lives. During that time we also mobilised as many as 2666 girl child savings accounts that will be used to transform lives long after these programmes have moved on.”
For the girls who attended, it was an enjoyable visit that they might never get again. As such, getting as much from the day was essential. Dave van Niekerk of the MyBucks Foundation believes that initiatives like these across Africa are vital for morale and creating possibilities for future success:
> “Our colleagues in Uganda understand the value of education and the broader benefit to be found in Africa’s upliftment. This way of thinking is very much a part of the MyBucks Foundation DNA – to uplift the communities in which we operate. We commend Opportunity Bank, Opportunity International and UK Aid for their foresight and helping build on the success of the broader MyBucks story.”
As for the girls themselves, their lives continue as usual, but with a new sense of opportunity and hope. To be able conceive a future beyond what they thought was possible is a success all on its own. It’s what the organisers envisaged from the outset and one piece of the puzzle that will help forge promising futures.