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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.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A mention from Global Giving Roundup about Unitus

Global Giving Matters is a newsletter on best practices and innovations in individual and family philanthropy and social investment. It is produced jointly by Synergos and the World Economic Forum (WEF) for members of WEF and the Global Philanthropists Circle (GPC).

Here is what the Global Giving Roundup said about Unitus:

Unitus (www.unitus.com), a nonprofit organization that helps microfinance institutions (MFIs) grow to scale, has announced a $1.2 million investment in an innovative partnership with Jamii Bora, an MFI that serves some of Kenyas poore'st populations. "Jamii Bora is one of the most exciting MFIs we've seen on any continent. They offer microcredit loans, extremely low-cost healthcare insurance, alcoholism rehabilitation, and even housing mortgages for former slum dwellers," said Geoff Davis, Unitus CEO. Unitus, co-founded by Mike Murray, a former Microsoft executive and member of the Synergos Global Philanthropists Circle, carefully selects the highest potential MFIs in developing countries and partners with them to accelerate their growth and help them become self-sustaining banks for the poor. Unitus estimates that Kenyan MFIs currently reach only about 5 percent of the potential market, leaving four million prospective clients without access to financial services. The partnership, which aims to help Jamii Bora grow from 70,000 to over 500,000 clients, includes a $1 million line of credit and a $200,000 grant for staff training, and advanced computer systems to support their planned expansion.

Jamii Bora was launched when 50 street beggars pleaded with Ingrid Munro, an African-based UN housing expert, to help them improve their lives. Many of those helped by Jamii Bora come from Nairobi's Mathare and Soweto slums; the Kenyan MFI is unusual in that its staff is composed almost exclusively of previous borrowers with a firm understanding of clients' needs. Unitus has partnered with MFIs in India and Mexico, helping them double the number of families they serve.


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