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Issue Date: 4/15/2005, Posted On: 4/15/2005

Unitus to loan $1.5m for poor

IndUS News Wire
REDMOND, Wash. - Unitus, a nonprofit organization that helps micro-finance institutions, announced a partnership with Bharatha Swamukti Samsthe, which provides micro-credit loans to the poor in India's state, Karnataka. Unitus has committed a $1.5 million line of credit and a $100,000 capacity-building grant to Bharatha. This funding is accompanied by a $100,000 capacity-building grant from the American India Foundation. The foundation and Unitus will collaborate in building the management capacity of Bharatha. The Unitus partnership will accelerate Bharatha's client base from 10,000 to 500,000 poor women in the next six years. Unitus' growth strategy the Unitus Acceleration Model is unique within the micro-finance industry, the company said. Unitus partners with micro-finance industries in developing countries, accelerating their growth and helping them become self-sustaining financial institutions for the poor. Unitus uses a combination of large capital investments and capacity-building consulting to help the highest-potential micro-finance industries significantly increase the number of loans they can make, empowering more poor families to work their way out of poverty, according to the company. With Unitus' assistance, the micro-finance industry's partners in India, Africa and Latin America, are now assisting more than 250,000 poor families in their efforts to become economically self-sufficient. Unitus plans for this numbers to exceed 1,000,000 families in 18 months and to be in the millions in a few years. "The selection of (Bharatha Swamukti Samsthe) is another excellent choice for Unitus," said Geoff Davis, Unitus's chief executive officer. "We evaluated over 100 potential micro-finance partners during 2004 and selected only three for new partnerships. These are the best of the best. We're looking forward to helping (Bharatha) greatly accelerate their growth in India." Bharatha is a micro-finance institution that offers tiny loans (often less than $100) to more than 10,000 poor women and their families in rural villages outside of Bangalore, India. Their clients' average per capita income is less than $12 per month at admission to Bharatha. Most clients are illiterate agricultural laborers who use these loans to start simple one-person businesses. In just the last two years, Unitus has helped its partners in India and Mexico double the number of families they serve, unusually rapid growth in the micro-finance industry, the company said. Unitus recently began working with Jamii Bora, an innovative program in Africa that works with Kenya's poorest residents. Unitus has now formed five such partnerships.

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