Unitus Launches Financial Services Firm: Unitus Capital

July 24, 2008 Posted by Press Release

Unitus Launches Financial Services Firm to Channel Capital to Social Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets

Unitus Capital Receives $5.5 Million in Initial Round of Seed Funding

Bangalore, India and Seattle, Washington, July 24, 2008 – Unitus, Inc., today announced the launch of Unitus Capital, one of the first financial advisory firms designed to meet the investment needs of social entrepreneurs serving the bottom of the economic pyramid. Unitus Capital is the transformation of the capital markets group of Unitus, Inc., which has secured debt and equity financing for 14 Unitus microfinance institution (MFI) partners across six countries since 2001. With $5.5 million in initial seed funding from private investors including WEGA Support GmbH, Robert Gay, co-founder and CEO of H&G Capital Partners and former managing director of Bain Capital, and William S. Price III, Founding Partner of Texas Pacific Group, Unitus Capital will operate as an independent for-profit organization, and remain a strategic affiliate of Unitus, Inc. Unitus Capital will serve as a conduit between capital market investors and social entrepreneurs focused on creating social and financial value for investors, MFIs, social enterprises, and the communities they serve. With more than 60 years of combined investment banking, financial services, and microfinance experience, the Unitus Capital team targets a rapidly growing social investment sector.

“The microfinance industry is at a crossroads. While the sector has seen private capital investments more than triple over the last three years, lack of financing remains perhaps the most significant challenge for hundreds of high-growth, high-quality MFIs and social enterprises. Unitus Capital is designed to transform the investment environment to better serve businesses that assist the poor by introducing more efficient and appropriate financing. The potential impact is massive,” said Eric Savage, Managing Director of Unitus Capital. Kylie Charlton, Managing Director of Unitus Capital, added, “Our job is to create a level playing field when structuring capital, negotiating terms, and increasing collaboration. Businesses around the world employ financial advisors to optimize capital-raising strategies, and we see no reason why social entrepreneurs in emerging markets shouldn’t have access to the same services.”

According to a 2007 Deutsche Bank study, the estimated total loan volume from MFIs stands at $25 billion worldwide. The amount of funding required to provide financial services to the world’s unbanked is estimated at more than $250 billion, with the number of microfinance institutions worldwide estimated between 7,500 and 10,000. Increasing private sector investments is a crucial step to fill this gap and meet critical funding needs. Unitus Capital will leverage its expertise, track record, and reputation to provide strategic growth opportunities for entrepreneurs committed to serving the needs of the working poor. By establishing a commercial presence for its services, Unitus Capital will be able to expand its team in a sustainable manner and draw upon a much larger pool of debt and equity capital in order to address the increasing needs of the market.

“We are thrilled to congratulate the Unitus capital markets team on its transformation to Unitus Capital, the first financial advisory firm truly dedicated to meeting the needs of MFIs throughout Asia,” commented Dr. Vincent Perlas, Senior Vice President of LifeBank Foundation, one of the fastest-growing microfinance institutions in the Philippines. “Over the past two years, the team has helped us close $1.3 million in debt financing, opened doors to global sources of capital, and helped us solidify important relationships with reputable funders. Their extensive transaction and investment banking experience has made a huge difference for our business. With their support, we’ve positioned ourselves as an attractive borrower to the right multinational lenders and have been able to move beyond capital constraints to reach more and more families.”

Subhra J Bharali, CEO, Asomi, a leading MFI in the Indian state of Assam commented, “Unitus has been helping us with our equity raising process.  This is our first time to raise equity, and we hired Unitus due to the team members’ strong finance background coupled with their detailed working knowledge of the microfinance sector. Their friendly approach for building a team with us is admirable and the team has been invaluable in helping us bring in the right investors on the right terms.  I am confident that Unitus Capital will help revolutionize the capital markets in favor of institutions that serve the poor for economic upliftment.”

Manager of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s Indian microfinance initiative, Geeta Goel, also congratulated Unitus on the launch of Unitus Capital. “As an active investor in the microfinance sector, we understand the importance of microfinance institutions receiving high-quality financial advice for appropriate capital structuring and fundraising. We have worked with Unitus on several investments and are impressed with their teams’ knowledge of the microfinance sector and investor concerns in the Indian context.”

About Unitus Capital
Unitus Capital is a financial advisory firm specializing in arranging capital for microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social enterprises which serve customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Unitus Capital seeks to provide a range of financial advisory and consulting services including debt and equity arranging and capital structuring services. Unitus Capital aims to create social and financial value for investors, MFIs, social enterprises, and most importantly, the communities which they serve. Early operations will deliver services to MFIs and related businesses in India and Southeast Asia, expanding into additional regions in 2009 and 2010.

Unitus Capital is a strategic affiliate of Unitus, Inc., an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing innovative, market-based solutions to global poverty. More information on Unitus Capital can be found online at www.unituscapital.com.

About Unitus, Inc.
Unitus, an international nonprofit organization, works to reduce global poverty by increasing access to life-changing microfinance services. We seek out and partner with young, high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs), helping them build capacity, attract capital, and achieve exponential growth. Through this leveraged approach, Unitus seeks to empower millions of the world’s working poor while transforming the financial systems now left out of their reach.

The Unitus portfolio reaches more than 4 million families through 22 partners in Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines.

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