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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.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Unitus Expands Across India With Bandhan Partnership

This was a recent press release by Unitus. India has become a major focus for Unitus, with 500 million poor there. Bandhan, working in the West Bengal state, is a great organization and we are excited to be working with them reach 1 million poor through loans by 2009.

Here is the press release:

Wednesday July 27, 4:00 pm ET
Microfinance Partnership Will Empower 1 Million of India's Poor by 2009

REDMOND, Wash., July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Unitus (www.unitus.com), an innovative nonprofit organization that helps alleviate poverty by accelerating the growth of microfinance institutions (MFIs) worldwide, today announced a microfinance partnership with Bandhan in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Through the partnership, Unitus will provide capacity-building consulting, $1.1 million in catalytic debt, and a $100,000 grant for management information systems and human resources, all targeted at helping Bandhan grow from 52,000 to 1 million poor clients by 2009.

"We are privileged to work each day to help the world's very best microfinance institutions become even better," said Unitus President and CEO Geoff Davis. "Bandhan clearly fits this group -- their growth to date, loan methodology, board of directors and operating systems are all world-class. In fact, during the months we were discussing the partnership, they increased their access to an additional 20,000 poor individuals!"

Bandhan operates in West Bengal, one of India's poorest states, using an individual lending methodology that differs from the group lending methodology used in most of India. This methodology helps them serve their clients in a highly personalized, efficient manner. Bandhan also serves very poor rural borrowers while achieving branch profitability, another industry-leading accomplishment. Only 14 percent of the poor people in West Bengal who could use microfinance services to improve their lives currently have access. Bandhan hopes to help fill that gap.

"With Unitus's assistance, we are excited to pursue our aggressive growth targets. Together we will be able to scale to new heights!" exclaimed Mr. Ghosh, Bandhan's founder and Executive Director.

Despite a long, successful history, MFIs still only reach an estimated 16 percent of the 500 million people who could use their services. The microfinance field's challenge is to scale this high-potential industry to fill the enormous supply shortfall. Unitus was created to help transform this opportunity into reality. During 2004, existing Unitus MFI partners doubled the total number of clients served, growth rarely seen in the microfinance industry. Bandhan joins Unitus alongside MFI partners ASA-GV, BSS, Grameen Koota, and SKS in India, Pro Mujer in Mexico, and Jamii Bora Trust in Kenya.

About Unitus

Unitus is a global microfinance accelerator, acting as a social venture capital investor for the microfinance industry. Unitus identifies the highest-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) in developing countries and helps accelerate their growth through capital investments and capacity-building consulting, thus empowering them to help exponentially more poor people worldwide. In doing so, Unitus aims to demonstrate that MFIs can be run as profitable, large-scale, poverty-focused businesses with links to local capital markets. As of June 2005, Unitus has seven MFI partners worldwide serving more than 399,000 poor clients. Based in Redmond, Washington, USA, and with offices in Bangalore, India, Unitus is a nonprofit organization that relies on innovative financial instruments, and the financial resources of like-minded individuals and foundations, to fulfill its mission.

About Bandhan

Bandhan -- meaning "togetherness" -- offers a variety of microfinance services including microcredit loans, savings, and loan repayment insurance to poor women in both rural and urban areas in India's West Bengal state. Beyond microfinance, Bandhan provides services in micro entrepreneurship, health, education, and disaster management to the disadvantaged community of the society, specially women and children, to help break the vicious circle of poverty.

David Schappell


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