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Unitus Microcredit Loans

Lessons, impressions, and thoughts that I have about the powerful poverty-fighting tool of Microcredit and how Unitus is accelerating the growth of Microfinance around the globe.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Unitus and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Invest in Microfinance in India

Press Release: Unitus and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Invest in Microfinance in India
Unitus and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Invest in Microfinance in India

Ujjivan partnership to provide microfinance to 600,000 clients by 2011

Redmond, Wash. (PRWEB) May 18, 2006 — Unitus Equity Fund, L.P. (UEF), a private equity fund formed by Unitus, a nonprofit organization which creates innovative solutions to global poverty, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) today announced they will invest in Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited, a newly-formed microfinance institution (MFI) with a vision to reach the poor in major cities throughout India. The UEF and MSDF join Bellwether Microfinance Fund, which had earlier invested in Ujjivan. The UEF is chartered to make direct equity investments in high-growth MFIs in Asia and Latin America, and will have a 24 percent stake in Ujjivan’s ownership, with MSDF and Bellwether at 13.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively. This investment will provide Ujjivan the capital to help reach more than 600,000 borrowers by 2011.

Ujjivan, based in Bangalore, India, is currently focused on providing financial services to the economically active urban poor. Microfinance in India is still mainly a rural phenomenon with only a handful of MFIs providing microfinance services to the urban poor. Ujjivan fills this gap with a mixed product offering targeted at urban, poor women.

Unitus President and CEO Geoff Davis said, “I’m delighted to welcome Ujjivan as Unitus’s ninth global MFI partner. The core strength of Ujjivan lies in its strong, experienced and visionary leadership team, which has over 60 years’ collective experience across commercial banking, microfinance, development and technology. By backing startup MFIs such as Ujjivan, we support innovation in the urban microfinance market. Working with Ujjivan from a very early stage to help them reach their goals will be a challenging but truly rewarding experience for Unitus.”

“Microfinance is a key program area for the foundation in India, and we’re specifically focused on extending the proven success of microfinance in rural areas to urban markets,” said Janet Mountain, executive director of MSDF. “We invested in Ujjivan because of its support of urban micro-entrepreneurs, and we feel confident this effort will help the families of India long term by providing them with the financial means to improve the welfare and education of their children.”

Added Viswanatha Prasad, Fund Manager, Bellwether Microfinance Fund, “Bellwether is delighted to welcome UEF and MSDF as investors in Ujjivan. Our combined resources will strengthen Ujjivan’s capital and capacity, and help Ujjivan realize its vision of creating a better life for a vast section of our community.”

“We are proud to formally join the Unitus and MSDF families, having been involved with them for some time,” said Samit Ghosh, CEO, Ujjivan. “We are at a stage when our business is ready to take off, and with this investment we have the financial and strategic support to grow Ujjivan so we can reach more of India’s poor. Ujjivan means a better life, and that is our true focus. We provide financial services for our customers to enable them to be free of poverty within five years of starting their relationship with us.”

NOTE - You can view the full release on PRWeb here.

About Ujjivan

Ujjivan commenced operations as a non-banking financial company in November 2005. It provides financial services to the economically active poor in India by combining successful models in microfinance with the technologies and efficiencies of modern retail banking. Through in-depth market research, Ujjivan has created a range of diverse financial products for poor urban women in India. While currently focusing on Bangalore, it expects to expand nationally and provide microfinance to more than 600,000 clients by 2011. Additional key Ujjivan investors include K. R. Ramamoorthy, Samit Ghosh, Nucleus Software, Ravi Bahl, Jaithirth Rao, and Ashok Vaswani. For more information about Ujjivan, please visit www.ujjivan.com.

About Unitus

Unitus, Inc. is a nonprofit organization creating innovative solutions to global poverty using a venture capital approach. Unitus dramatically accelerates the growth of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and demonstrates that many MFIs can be run as profitable, large-scale, poverty-focused businesses with links to formal capital markets. As of May 2006, Unitus had nine MFI partners worldwide serving more than 679,000 poor clients. By 2015 Unitus’s MFI partners plan to reach 10 million clients in India alone. Based in Redmond, WA, USA, and Bangalore, India, Unitus relies on innovative financial instruments and the financial resources of like-minded individuals and foundations to fulfill its mission. Unitus received the 2006 Fast Company Social Capitalist Award for taking an innovative, business-minded approach to alleviating global poverty. For more information about Unitus, please visit www.unitus.com.

About the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) was established in 1999 by the Dell family to improve outcomes for children living in urban poverty. Based in Austin, Texas, the Foundation funds programs that foster and improve education, health and safety for children around the world. With an endowment of more than $1 billion, the Foundation has committed more than $270 million to date for children’s issues in the United States and globally. Because of the proven social impact of microfinance, the Foundation is keenly engaged in bolstering growth-oriented microfinance institutions that have the potential of reaching millions of un-served poor. The centerpiece of MSDF’s initial efforts in microfinance is to catalyze the development of the urban microfinance market in India by providing risk capital to start-up microfinance organizations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is separate and distinct from the Dell Foundation. In any first reference, please use the ‘Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.’ For second references, ‘the Dell family foundation’ or ‘MSDF’ may be used in lieu of the full Foundation name.

The Bellwether Microfinance Fund

The Bellwether Microfinance Fund was conceived by a small group of experienced Indian microfinance professionals and foreign investors as an Equity-Debt Fund, independently managed and run by professional fund managers. A US $10 million fund, Bellwether is the first fund in India dedicated to investing in the equity and debt of microfinance institutions across the country that are in line with the Fund’s mission and investment philosophy. For more information, please visit www.bellwetherfund.com.

Ujjivan-Samit GhoshCEOUjjivanTel: +91-98860-11249
Unitus-Robert LowryPublic Relations Associate-UnitusTel: +1 (425) 881-2574
Vidya Narasimhan-India Communications Head-UnitusTel: +91-98452-10981
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation-Renee Austin-Senior Vice President Weber ShandwickTel: +1 (816) 505-7888
Bellwether-Viswanatha Prasad-Fund ManagerTel: +91-98480-13035

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mike Murray on Channel 9

I first learned about Robert Scoble, Microsoft's Technical Evangalist, and his legendary blog, the Scobleizer and Channel 9 at the Businessblogging summit in San Fran. I was thrilled when I heard that he might interview Mike Murray, the Chairman of Unitus and ex-Microsoft exec.

Today, Robert Scoble posted his 23 minute clip of his interview with Mike Murray where Mike shares his vision of being able to alleviate poverty worldwide and the role Unitus plays in that vision.

Thanks to Scoble for the attention and kudos to the Unitus team for landing such a "prime-time" online interview!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The "Official" Unitus Blog

Well, to tell the truth, I am glad it is here!

David Schappell, the VP of Marketing at Unitus, and the team have launched the official blog for Unitus at:


David states that they plan to include on the blog:

* links to microfinance-oriented articles that we find interesting (to try to save you, the readers, some time)
* Unitus updates, that may or may not warrant press releases
* Audio or video excerpts related to Unitus staff members (conference presentations, etc)

He also states that he believes to have other employees, board members, and advisors contribute to this blog as well.

Best of luck, David. We welcome Unitus to the pool!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Small Fortunes Schedules

David posted the schedule for the PBS Station in Seattle for Small Fortunes as a comment on my last post.

PBS has a station finder that will take you to the station in your area (by zip code) and then, for most stations, has a link to the station.

Look on the schedule for October 27, 2005 for the evening for the broadcast time so you can mark it on your calender.

Here is the station finder from PBS:


This is one beautiful film that will move you deeply and help you understand to promises of microfinance.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Small Fortunes

In a previous post about the PBS Documentary, Small Fortunes, I mentioned that it would be broadcast at the end of October. We are now seeing some of the major PBS stations listing their schedules and their show times for Small Fortunes.

For example, PBS station powerhouse, WGBH, schedule for Small Fortunes is now published.

Check your local PBS station for listings and make sure you invite your friends and family to watch!


Microfinance can be defined as financial products designed for consumers that live at or below the poverty line.

These products can include:




Savings Programs

Leasing Programs

Seasonal Loans

Equity Programs

I think as we find tools that assist in alleviating poverty, we should see how we can embrace them and utilize them.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Unitus Announces $2.7 Million Grant from Omidyar Network

This is an incredible step forward for Unitus! The grant will enable Unitus to expand operations and hire key staff members in its Redmond, Wash., and Bangalore, India, offices. With the additional support in place, Unitus plans to form partnerships with at least four new microfinance institutions, and to reach an additional 1 million clients by the end of 2006. By 2015, Unitus expects to be helping 10 million clients in India alone work their way out of poverty.

Unitus is so fortunate to have received such a generous grant from Omidyar Network and to have their trust and confidence. Here is some info about who the Omidyar Network from the press release:

Omidyar Network is a mission-based investment group committed to fostering individual self-empowerment on a global scale. Established in June 2004 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, the Network is founded on the simple core belief that every individual has the power to make a difference. Because we believe issues are best addressed by the people who face them, we focus on the how, not the what. Therefore, we fund citizen-driven models that enable individuals to pursue what matters most to them. The Network seeks out scalable for-profits,nonprofits, and public policy efforts that promote: equal access to information, tools and opportunities; openness and transparency; collaboration around shared interests; and a sense of ownership for participants. To date, we've invested in areas such as microfinance, bottom-up media, open source projects, and transparency in government. Omidyar Network intends for its diverse portfolio to foster individual self-empowerment across the economic, political, and social realms, and to catalyze a new breed of business for which social impact directly drives profitability. We invite you to learn more about us and the organizations we've funded at http://www.omidyar.net

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Unitus and ACCION and the Clinton Global Initiative

Maria Otero (ACCION International) & Geoff Davis (Unitus)

In a recent post, I mentioned the Clinton Global Initiative and how there would be exciting news from the conference that related to Unitus.

Well, in a just published Unitus Newsletter, we learn more about this exciting development.

Here is from the newsletter:

From September 15-17, former President Clinton convened world leaders in New York City for the Clinton Global Initiative. They discussed four main goals: poverty reduction; religious reconciliation; combating climate change; and strengthening governments and economies. Unlike many other conferences, Clinton asked each participant to commit to action in one of these four areas. In his words, "If you don't want to make a commitment, don't come; and if you don't follow through on a commitment, don't come back."

We were up to the task. Together with ACCION, our partner in the Unitus-ACCION Alliance for India, we pledged to provide microfinance services to 15 million of India's working poor by 2015. This commitment was one of only four recognized at the Friday evening plenary session. In fact, President Clinton himself presented the commitment certificate to Unitus Board Vice Chair Elizabeth Funk and ACCION President and CEO Maria Otero!

The meetings were a tremendous success, with participants committing more than $1.25 billion to work toward the Intiative's goals. We are energized by the work ahead of us, and we pledge to not only report back to President Clinton at this time next year, but to keep you informed about our progress every step of the way.

I am very excited and pleased for such great involvement. A big thanks needs to go to Elizabeth Funk and the ACCION team for all their behind the scenes work to get this initiative accepted.