Unitus Partners Now Reaching 3 Million Poor Families

February 20, 2008 Posted by Press Release

Unitus Partners Now Reaching 3 Million Poor Families Worldwide

Unitus, a worldwide leader in scaling innovative solutions to global poverty, today announced that the number of clients reached through its global microfinance partner network has surpassed 3 million. This year-end 2007 figure is more than double the number of clients the network reached at the end of 2006. This dramatic growth represents significant momentum for the Unitus network and offers tremendous opportunity for millions of families to work their way out of poverty.

Unitus works to fight global poverty by accelerating access to microfinance for millions of the working poor. Using a highly leveraged, results-focused model, Unitus partners with high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the globe to connect them to the growth capital and innovative business tools they need to grow rapidly and reach scale. Unitus offers to MFIs a broad range of business consulting services, capacity-building grants, technology tools, strategic planning, and capital advisory services to eliminate barriers to growth and empower them to serve millions more hardworking micro-entrepreneurs around the world.

More than 3 billion people—half the world’s population—live on less than US $2 a day, yet only 133 million people currently have access to microfinance services. Fueled by the business acumen, innovation, and excellence of some of the brightest social entrepreneurs in the world today, the Unitus partner network aims to rapidly close this poverty gap, and is providing life-changing financial services, including microcredit loans, savings, and insurance products to the working poor in hundreds of villages in seven countries.

To help achieve these ambitious goals, together with its partners, Unitus delivered on a number of important milestones during 2007, including:

  • Increased reach to 3.3 million poor families.
  • Added five new microfinance partners.
  • Expanded outreach in South America and rural India.
  • Provided expert “Efficiency Workshops” for a number of Unitus microfinance partners in India, the Philippines, and Mexico.
  • Developed a range of new web-based tools and advisory services to drive MFI operational efficiency and increased reach.
  • Convened the second annual Unitus Leadership Summit—featuring a roundtable discussion hosted by 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 spur innovation and cross-pollinate best practices.

In 2008, Unitus will expand its work to new regions, continue to build out its network, and introduce a variety of new products and services designed to increase access to microfinance and fuel the growth of financial services for the poor. By combining a focus on access for those who need it most with innovations that can deliver industry-wide impact, Unitus aims to transform the lives of millions and deliver lasting social change.

“Microfinance has the power to transform lives, families, and communities. But it’s just not getting to people quickly enough,” said Geoff Davis, Unitus President and CEO. “As an industry, we must act boldly to create the kind of rapid, dramatic results needed to reach the hundreds of millions of families who still lack access. Through the heroic work of our partners on the ground, the Unitus Acceleration Model is helping close this financial services gap faster than ever before. We are thrilled that our partners have added more than 2.6 million new microfinance clients over the six short years that we’ve worked together with them. We remain focused on helping them reach millions more who still lack the opportunity to build a better life.”

“My passion for poverty alleviation is driven by the need to see the rural poor benefit from India’s phenomenal economic growth. Job creation and market linkages for the poor through an organized platform are essential prerequisites for a successful poverty alleviation model. Microfinance helps build that organized platform through its branch network and its employee and client base, and offers a powerful way to deliver a range of financial and non-financial income-generating services for the poor,” said Harsha Moily, CEO and Founder of Unitus partner MokshaYug Access. “The diversity of experience that the Unitus team brings has enabled us to leverage best practices across sectors and geographies to build a sustainable poverty alleviation model.”