Unitus Welcomes Microfinance Leader and Business Executive Elizabeth Funk as New Board Chair
Unitus to Reach 2 Million People with Life-changing Financial Services in 2007
Redmond, WA—January 9, 2007—Unitus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing global poverty by increasing access to microfinance, today announced that Elizabeth Funk, currently Vice Chair of the Unitus Board, will assume the position of non-executive Board Chair. Ms. Funk will replace outgoing Board Chair and co-founder Mike Murray and will transition into her new role on January 15.
Based in Redmond, Washington, with offices in San Francisco and Bangalore, India, Unitus is a leading social enterprise empowering the working poor to improve their own lives through access to financial services such as microcredit loans, insurance and savings products. Unitus provides technical assistance and financial support; including loans, grants and guarantees, to help microfinance institutions increase their capacity and enhance their ability to reach even more of the world’s working poor. With support from Unitus, its 13 microfinance partners have been able to grow eight times faster than similar institutions. As of December 2006, the Unitus portfolio of partners was providing economic and social empowerment to over 1.1 million micro-entrepreneurs and their families.
Elizabeth Funk brings a wealth of experience from the business, investment and microfinance sectors, and is dedicated to social change. In addition to serving on Unitus’s Board of Directors, Elizabeth Funk is President and CEO of CML Global Capital, an international real estate investment firm. She is active in the field of microfinance as co-founder and CEO of The Dignity Fund, a board member of Deutsche Bank’s Global Microfinance Consortium and the moderator of the Microfinance Forum of Young President’s Organization. She also serves on the board of Ujjivan – a Unitus microfinance partner in India – and the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network. Before joining CML, Elizabeth was one of the earliest employees at Yahoo!, where she founded the Yahoo! Shopping service and later headed e-commerce business development and strategic planning. Prior to Yahoo! Elizabeth spent four years at Microsoft. Ms. Funk holds an international relations and economics degree with honors from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar.
Said Unitus President and CEO Geoff Davis: “Elizabeth’s leadership, intelligence, energy and ideas will play a key role in helping us reach our ambitious targets. I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented and dedicated professional.”
“I’m excited and honored to be the new Board Chair at Unitus,” said Ms. Funk. “Unitus has proven itself as a fast-growing, highly innovative and adaptable organization that’s changing more than a million lives through microfinance. My goal now is to leverage the deep expertise of our Board to help Unitus serve more than 2 million micro-entrepreneurs by the end of 2007 — and millions more in the years to follow. Working with the world-class Unitus team I’m confident of our continued success.”
Outgoing Board Chair and Unitus co-founder Mike Murray recently announced that he will be stepping down from the Unitus Board Chair position to serve a three-year assignment as a mission president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Murray will remain on the Board with a representative from the Murray family attending Board meetings on his behalf. The Murray family’s Crystal Springs Foundation will continue its financial support of Unitus. Since co-founding Unitus in 2000, Mr. Murray has played a critical role in guiding the organization from a start-up to a world-class innovator of solutions to global poverty with 40 professional staff in offices in the U.S. and India. His extensive support of Unitus and microfinance over the last six years has helped Unitus develop the fastest-growing portfolio of microfinance institutions in the world. Mr. Murray will return to active participation on the Unitus Board in 2010.
“Unitus has evolved into a high-impact organization with a proven approach to fighting poverty,” said Mr. Murray. “It has a strong foundation, proven leadership and a talented team led by CEO Geoff Davis. I’m absolutely confident that my successor Elizabeth Funk has the vision and expertise necessary to build on these strengths to deliver even greater results.”
“Mike Murray is a brilliant strategist and entrepreneur with profound compassion for the world’s poor,” said Unitus President and CEO Geoff Davis. “His leadership and commitment are deeply imprinted on Unitus culture and I couldn’t have asked for a better founding Board Chair. I look forward to his active involvement upon his return.”
Unitus is a nonprofit organization creating innovative solutions to global poverty using a venture capital model. Based in Redmond, Washington, with offices in San Francisco and Bangalore, India, Unitus dramatically accelerates the growth of its microfinance partners by supplying technical and financial resources that enable them to transform into profitable, large-scale, poverty-focused businesses with links to formal capital markets. Unitus currently has 13 partners in its worldwide portfolio that provide life-changing financial services for more than 1 million of the world’s working poor.