Unitus Concludes Annual Leadership Summit

October 31, 2007 Posted by Press Release

Unitus Convenes Microfinance, Business and Philanthropic Leaders to Scale the Effort to Reduce Global Poverty

October 31, 2007 − Global leaders in microfinance, business and philanthropy concluded a three-day Summit focused on charting the next chapter of poverty alleviation through social entrepreneurship. Unitus, Inc., a worldwide leader in scaling innovative solutions to global poverty, invited Pierre Omidyar, eBay founder and co-founder and founding partner of Omidyar Network, and Matt Bannick, managing partner of Omidyar Network and former president of eBay International, to provide their insights, leadership and vision to the Summit.

Unitus Leadership Summit attendees included CEOs and management teams of some the fastest growing, most promising microfinance organizations around the globe: Bandhan, BSS, Credex, Grameen Koota, FINSOL, FIS, IIRM, Lifebank Foundation, MokshaYug Access, SKS Microfinance, Swadhaar, Ujjivan, and UBPD. The Summit provided a platform for social entrepreneurs and private sector experts to confront barriers and explore new solutions to scaling poverty-fighting enterprises in microfinance.

“Unitus brings innovative thinking and expertise to the field of microfinance, providing its partners with the resources necessary to expand the impact of microfinance on global poverty,” said Omidyar. “The excellent caliber and extensive expertise of Unitus’s microfinance institution (MFI) partners provided a focused opportunity for us to test our strategies against the realities on the ground, so that we can increase our effectiveness and our contributions to the industry.”

“The Unitus Leadership Summit illuminates the critical issues that microfinance institutions face today: creating scale, finding talent, and building the operational infrastructure to support growing operations,” said Bannick. “By engaging industry leaders in collaborative problem solving, Unitus is driving the evolution of a new breed of sustainable microfinance institutions that are rapidly closing the gap in the supply of financial services for the world’s working poor.”

The Summit’s highly interactive sessions focused on strategy, technology, financing, and business efficiency. Together, participants engaged in dynamic, forward-looking discussions centered on identifying trends and evaluating new opportunities emerging in the field. Conversations focused on the need to lower operating costs, the importance of innovation, developing new products and services to meet the growing needs of the poor, opportunities to leverage inflows of private capital into the microfinance sector, and the potential for microfinance institutions to serve as distribution channels for other products and services, such as healthcare and clean water.

Ranging from start-ups to highly experienced organizations already serving more than one million poor clients, Summit attendees shared powerful lessons from their experiences on the front lines of fighting poverty. Combined with high-growth strategies presented by Unitus’s team of microfinance experts, Omidyar and others, Summit attendees were given new ideas and energy to scale microfinance in ground-breaking and high-impact ways; helping to further fuel a powerful vision to serve the growing social and financial needs of the world’s poor.

“I’ve observed many CEO summits and this is the most open summit I’ve seen,” said Manny Perlas, Chairman of the Board and President of Lifebank Foundation, Philippines, during the Summit. “There was a lightness of spirit and a brotherhood among people with a similar vision and mission. We learned that even high level practitioners experienced the same challenges, which gave us new confidence. We will leave with clear lessons in management, information systems, growth, human development and financing. We really have a clear path for future growth.”

Unitus MFI partners collectively provide financial services to over 2.4 million microfinance clients, meeting a critical need for the world’s working poor. These industry leaders are proving that commercial approaches to fighting poverty work. Employing innovative practices, they’re building high-growth, values-based businesses that serve the poor and provide hope and opportunity to end the cycle of poverty for millions.

“These impressive leaders are raising the bar for growth and innovation for the entire microfinance industry,” said Geoff Davis, CEO of Unitus. “During this Summit, they shared deep insights on what it truly takes at the ground level to rapidly scale up market-based solutions to global poverty. It’s been an exhilarating experience. We at Unitus are inspired and poised to help guide these social entrepreneurs to reach their ambitious growth plans, and to make a lasting impact in the fight against global poverty. ”

About Omidyar Network:
Omidyar Network is a mission-based organization committed to creating opportunity for individuals to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, the organization supports businesses and nonprofits that promote equal access to information, tools and opportunities; connections around shared interests; and a sense of ownership for participants. To date, Omidyar Network has committed nearly $49 million to the field of microfinance.