Omidyar Network and Unitus to Help Millions of the Working Poor Participate in t...

Apr 2008
San Francisco and Seattle, United States, April, 24 2008 - Omidyar Network and Unitus are pleased to announce plans to dramatically expand the worldwide availability of financial services to the poor. Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm established by Pierre and Pam Omidyar, will invest $9 million in Unitus.

This will represent Omidyar Network's largest grant in microfinance to date. Unitus, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating access to microfinance, will use this support to increase its network of microfinance partners and expand into several new regions over the next three years. This expansion will enable Unitus microfinance institution (MFI) partners to grow rapidly, strengthen their businesses, and reach millions of individuals currently excluded from the formal economic system with life-changing financial services.

When Omidyar Network participated in the Unitus Leadership Summit last year in the Philippines, Pierre and I were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm with which Unitus and its partners are extending the reach of microfinance and transforming the lives of the poor," said Matt Bannick, Managing Partner, Omidyar Network. "When we look at the incredible results that Unitus and its partners have achieved over the past six years, we are thrilled to continue to support, scale, and champion these innovative organizations as they seek to maximize social impact."

With the Omidyar grant, Unitus will continue to support a rapidly growing portfolio of start-up and early-stage MFIs in developing countries by employing its proven acceleration model. Using this model, in 2007 Unitus partners grew seven times faster than the industry average, as measured by the total number of clients added. Since 2001, Unitus and its partners have reached more than 3.5 million of the world's poor, making it one of the fastest growing MFI networks.

"Omidyar Network is a thought leader in global microfinance, and we're honored to work with a forward-thinking organization that challenges us to maximize our impact. Through their support we can further expand our network, and use our acceleration model to help our partners double their reach each year," said Ed Bland, Unitus Chief Operating Officer.

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. Unitus partners with high-potential 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 its partners a broad range of business consulting services, capacity-building grants, technology tools, and capital advisory services in order to eliminate barriers to growth and empower them to serve millions more hardworking micro-entrepreneurs around the world. Through this network, partners are supported to grow their businesses while maintaining their social mission. With the support of Omidyar Network and others, Unitus and its partners intend on reaching 15 million of the world's poor by 2010.

Source : eMediaWire

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