Sydney, 29 May 2018 – Two outstanding business leaders—Joanna White and Meredith Scott—have taken the reins at Opportunity International Australia. Joanna White, Managing Director of Business Lending at the Commonwealth Bank, and Meredith Scott, a former Partner at Ernst & Young, are Opportunity’s new Chair and Chief Executive Officer, respectively.
Joanna White and Meredith Scott, continuing the work of
Opportunity's founder David Bussau (pictured in the background)
“Having served as an Opportunity Board Director for the past seven years, I’m delighted to take on the Chair role and welcome Meredith Scott as our new CEO,” Joanna White says.
‘I’ve seen first-hand in India, the Philippines and Indonesia, the incredible role micro-finance—provided through Opportunity—can play in helping families break the poverty cycle themselves.
“I look forward to working with Meredith and the broader Opportunity team to ensure more Australians learn about Opportunity and see for themselves the role they can play in helping families on their journey out of poverty,” she adds.
Edward Kerr, Opportunity’s former Chair, welcomed Joanna and Meredith to their new roles. “It’s fitting that with a focus on addressing the financial inclusion of people—in particular women—living in poverty in developing countries, Opportunity now has two highly accomplished business women leading the organisation.”
“I’m excited to be at Opportunity and look forward to taking the organisation on the next phase of its journey,” Meredith Scott says. “I’m also looking forward to speaking with Opportunity’s generous supporters, and exploring how together we can continue to empower families to break the poverty cycle for good.
“I love the way Opportunity helps to bring about a measure of justice, dignity and purpose in the lives of families in poverty. We don’t just fight poverty, our goal is to end it.
“Ninety-five per cent of the microfinance loans Opportunity facilitates in the developing world are to women—that loan portfolio currently has an amazing 98 per cent repayment rate,” she adds.
The Recent Global Findex Report on financial inclusion issued by the World Bank states that whilst there has been a dramatic improvement in access to financial services, 1.7 billion adults continue to be “unbanked”, and across the world, nine per cent more women than men do not have access to even basic financial services—increasing their financial risk, time and costs to engage in the economy.
The 5.5 million borrowers Opportunity currently serves are now providing the distribution network through which crucial community development projects, such as health and sanitation, education, domestic violence mitigation and prevention of child sex trafficking are being delivered.
“There’s still so much that needs to be done,” Scott adds. “And with two passionate women leading the organisation, we will continue to not just fight poverty, but end it.”
Don’t fight poverty. End it.
Joanna White Bio
Joanna leads Commonwealth Bank’s business lending team with responsibility for product, process and pricing of the $70 billion commercial and asset finance lending book. She is focused on transforming the commercial lending customer experience through process and digital innovation.
Prior to her current role, Joanna held a range of leadership roles at National Australia Bank in business banking, executive advisory and corporate responsibility. Joanna has over two decades’ experience working in Australia and Canada, as founder and CEO of The Australian Charities Fund, in addition to roles at Bain & Company, Weyerhaeuser and Procter & Gamble.
Joanna holds a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Alberta.
Meredith Scott Bio
Meredith commenced as Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity in April 2018 following a 32-year career at Ernst & Young where she was an audit partner specialising in technology, entertainment, government and not-for-profit clients.
She is the Deputy Chairman of both Pymble Ladies College and Wesley Community Services Ltd.
Meredith is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and holds an Honorary Fellow of Senate from Sydney University following 10 years of serving on its Finance and Audit Committee.