In July, Opportunity International Canada's partner in the Dominican Republic, Coop ASPIRE, celebrated their 5th Anniversary. Up until 2013, ASPIRE operated as an NGO. That year, they transitioned into a formal financial Cooperative, enabling them to serve clients with a wide variety of financial products such as savings, loans, insurance and training. In 2000, they served 6,000 clients. As of October, they serve over 120,000.
The ASPIRE leadership under Executive Director Geraldo Orozco continues to prioritize the personal and spiritual development of all clients and staff. This has translated into a growing financial portfolio, a growing client base, and a high staff retention rate and morale. “God comes first. People come next. No matter how many clients we have, this priority needs to remain,” says Geraldo.
Thank you from both Coop ASPIRE and Opportunity International Canada for partnering with us and making such a transformational impact possible in the Dominican Republic.
Financial Performance Award
Against 103 competing microfinance organizations in Central America and the Caribbean, ASPIRE has been awarded the “Recognition of Financial Performance” award for achieving the best indicators in Portfolio Quality Category by the network of microfinance organizations for Central America and the Caribbean (REDCAMIF). Achieving a high quality portfolio together with low average client loans is a delicate balance for a microfinance organization, and we are thrilled ASPIRE is being recognized for its hard work.
Staff And Family Retreat
Coop ASPIRE runs an annual staff retreat called “Staying Together” where all staff and their families are invited to spend time together learning and praying. Due to the size of the organization (1,260 people attended), the retreat was held in 3 locations around the country. A focus on the wellbeing of staff and their family relationships has helped ASPIRE become one of the most well respected and internally strong microfinance organizations among the Opportunity International family in Latin America.
- 59% of the portfolio is in Individual loans (27,829 clients)
- 22% of the portfolio is in Home Improvement loans (5,066 clients)
- 4.5% of the portfolio has been disbursed to 160 churches for building/renovation loans
- 23,210 of the members of the cooperative have also purchased insurance over their loans
Insurance is very important to clients in developing nations, as it provides protection and a safety net from unexpected crisis that can destroy a family. Having insurance over their loans in the DR means that if they die, a client’s loan is forgiven and their family also receives money towards funeral costs.
Education Finance makes up 6% of Coop ASPIRE’s loan portfolio, with 293 oustanding loans and a loan portfolio of CDN$2,852,839. The repayment rate is 99%. They also have 685 Youth Savings Accounts for education.
As part of Coop ASPIRE’s commitment to serving low income private schools, the leadership annually attends and participates in the National Convention of the Association of Christian Schools International. The Convention provides ongoing training for over 800 Christian teachers and school administrators all over the country and region. Coop ASPIRE’s Geraldo Orozco gave a presentation on the “Importance of Financial Sustainability for Quality Education”.
Regional Meeting Of Opporunity International Latin American Partners
This summer, Opportunity International Canada organized the annual meeting of Latin American partners to share best practices and challenges. Meeting in the Dominican Republic, partners from Colombia, Honduras and the DR were able to also personally connect and establish stronger ties. With so many external pressures and challenges facing microfinance organizations, our partners expressed their appreciation for an opportunity to share experiences and understanding. Such meetings go a long way to facilitating mutual cooperation.
ASPIRE ran a small pilot project testing the feasibility of micro-leasing as a basis for providing income generating work for 125 women with no job or education. Coop ASPIRE purchased small and inexpensive appliances such as blenders, sandwich makers, fridges, sewing machines, ovens, photocopiers, food carts, blow dryers and manicure/pedicure kits, and leased them for $30 per month on average, with the option of buying the equipment at the end. If the equipment was not beneficial for the women at the end of the period, they could return it without debt.
This project was very well received, with 50% of participants saying their living conditions improved after 6 months participating in the project. The project also provided business experience and training to a very poor segment of the population Coop ASPIRE that has been unable to reach in the past. They are considering doing more of these types of projects in the future.
Support the Dominican Republic
This Christmas, we are supporting 500 families in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic.