Unitus Featured on Cause Capitalism

January 5, 2010 Posted by Media Exposure

Unitus Featured on Cause Capitalism

From Cause Capitalism, Poverty Alleviation at a Rate of 7: The Unitus Model, by Olivia Khalili.

“I spoke with Windy Wilkins and Steve Schwartz from Unitus, a non-profit that works to increase access to microfinance services, to learn about Unitus’ specialized model (instead of working directly with borrowers, Unitus identifies high-impact microfinance institutions (MFIs) and helps them attract capital and systematize processes) and why the organization is so effective. Unitus-supported MFIs are growing seven-times as fast as traditional MFIs, and in its eight years of operations, the organization has helped its partner institutions to serve more than 10 million families. Wilkins leads the global network and Schwartz manages media relations.

What makes Unitus unique?
Windy: We partner with high-potential microfinance institutions. We currently have 23 partners to whom we provide a variety of services including help with capacity-building and seed or early stage funding.  Are work is intended to help the organizations grow and deliver high-impact services to their clients.

How do you identify high-impact institutions?

Windy: We’ve surveyed 1000s of MFIs and have come up with only 23 partners, so it’s a rigorous process. We choose partners who are working in high-demand regions. Once we identify regions where we think there’s extreme need or potential for growth, we start to identify institutions. Typically, we partner with early-stage institutions. We also look for a commercial focus. We want to make sure the institutions are taking a commercial approach to microfinance.

Are there any commonalities among the MFIs despite their geographic and cultural differences? How do they vary in terms of size, government support, aptitude?
The commonality comes out when you look at the management. I’m responsible for running the network so I connect all of our partners to each other, find ways for them to share best practices and learn from each other. Every year we do an annual leadership summit that brings together the CEOs and senior management of our partners. I’m always surprised by how much commonality there is among them. When you look at their capability and their passion, they have a lot in common.”

> Read the full article on Cause Capitalism