Unitus Teams Up With OPIC & Citi

March 29, 2010 Posted by Press Release

Unitus Teams Up With OPIC & Citi to Make $15 Million Available for the Development of Emerging Microfinance Institutions

Credit facility will provide debt funding to smaller MFIs in challenging markets

SEATTLE, 29 March 2010 – In their ongoing effort to empower the world’s poor through microfinance, international nonprofit Unitus, Inc., the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and Citi have finalized a $15 million credit facility that will help foster growth among high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) and create more opportunities for families working their way out of poverty.

The agreement will match the strong partner relationships and expert due diligence capabilities of Unitus with the capital and credit approval capacity of OPIC. When enabled by Citi’s global banking network, the facility will deliver much needed financial resources to microfinance institutions serving underserved communities worldwide.

“There is a lot of money going into what could be termed Tier I MFIs – those already possessing a level of scale and track record that make it relatively easy to attract commercial equity and debt. This deal targets smaller, younger Tier II and III MFIs providing similar microfinance services while in far more complicated fundraising positions,” said Richard Wardell, Unitus’s VP of Global Programs. “Our hope is that this work will catalyze the growth of another generation of Tier I MFIs, thus creating more opportunities for more families to improve their lives.”

The eight-year revolving debt and guarantee facility will see Unitus and OPIC sharing the risk on a series of transactions supporting high-potential MFIs.  The deal limits the amount any single MFI can receive to $2 million, and loans to start-up and early stage MFIs in aggregate cannot exceed $12 million.  With a presence in over 100 countries, Citi’s global network will provide local currency lending to minimize foreign exchange risk for these MFIs.

Dr. Lawrence Spinelli, Acting President of OPIC, said, “Projects such as this – empowering smaller MFIs during a time when capital available to them is scarce – are critical to the ongoing success of microfinance. OPIC is pleased to work with Unitus and Citi to strengthen the MFI network globally so that microentrepeneurs can, in turn, generate economic growth in their local communities.”

While OPIC has been working to support microfinance for many years – including its recently announced $250 million Global Microfinance Program with Citi – this is its first catalytic debt facility targeting early stage MFIs.

“Citi is pleased to be able to expand its long term partnership with OPIC and Unitus to extend local currency financing to emerging MFIs, supporting micro-entrepreneurship and stimulating economic growth” said Bob Annibale, Global Director Citi Microfinance.  Citi’s US Commercial Bank has developed expertise in serving the microfinance industry through the structuring of innovative financial products and services.

“In a very practical way, this facility will allow us to amplify the impact of the resources already at our disposal,” commented Wardell. “The confidence OPIC is showing in us reinforces what our supporters already know — that Unitus is committed to doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of families in need.”

About OPIC

OPIC was established as an agency of the U.S. government in 1971. It helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers.

OPIC’s political risk insurance and financing help U.S. businesses of all sizes invest in more than 150 emerging markets and developing nations worldwide. Over the agency’s 38-year history, OPIC has supported $188 billion worth of investments that have helped developing countries to generate over 830,000 host-country jobs. OPIC projects have also generated $72 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 273,000 American jobs.

About Citi

Working across Citi’s businesses, product groups and geographies, Citi Microfinance serves more than 100 microfinance institutions (MFIs), networks and investors as clients and partners in over 40 countries with products and services spanning the financial spectrum – from financing, access to capital markets, transaction services and hedging foreign exchange risk, to credit, savings, remittances and insurance products – to expand access to financial services for the underserved.

Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 140 countries. Through its two operating units, Citicorp and Citi Holdings, Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com or www.citi.com.

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