April 23, 2008, San Francisco and Seattle – 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 US$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.
Unitus is a worldwide leader at scaling innovative solutions to global poverty. We accelerate access to life-changing financial services for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid—the 3 billion people who are living on less than $2 a day. Unitus partners with the world’s most promising microfinance institutions and provides them with breakthrough business strategies, technology, and access to capital, empowering them to serve thousands more hardworking micro-entrepreneurs around the world.
The Unitus portfolio reaches more than 3.5 million families through 21 partners in Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines. Our goal is to reach more than 15 million of the world’s working poor by 2010.
Unitus has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, PBS, and National Public Radio. We received Fast Company magazine’s Social Capitalist award in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Unitus is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with offices in Seattle, Washington and Bangalore, India. For more information, please visit www.unitus.com or contact us at [email protected].
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm committed to creating opportunity for people around the world. Established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, Omidyar Network supports nonprofit and for-profit efforts that enable people around the world to improve their lives and make powerful, lasting contributions to their communities. Since 2004, Omidyar Network has funded a number of organizations in areas such as microfinance, participatory media, and transparency in government. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.net.