Unitus Initiatives

Current Initiatives of Unitus

Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund): Investing in Startups Serving Low-Income Populations

Startup businesses are often the source of the innovations to break-through conventional approaches and solutions to bring new income generating opportunities as well as better and more affordable products and services to low-income populations. Unitus Labs is seeking to have a catalytic impact to bring more benefits to low-income populations in developing countries sooner and more broadly. More at Unitus Ventures >

Patamar Capital (formerly Unitus Impact): Creating Livelihood Opportunities

By definition, people are poor because they don’t generate enough income. In many cases, they work extremely hard and should generate higher incomes, but age-old systems are gamed against them or they have been unable to efficiently access markets. Unitus Impact is focused on investing in innovative ventures that have the potential to expand economic opportunities for those living in poverty, significantly increase incomes and revolutionize livelihood development throughout the world. More about Unitus Impact >

Unitus Capital: Investment Bank for the Base of the Economic Pyramid Market

There continues to be significant media exposure for the growing number of “social entrepreneurs” who are starting businesses in developing countries to serve the massive 4 billion people who live on less than $2 per day. But even the best ideas needs capital, and usually, a lot of it to have significant outreach and impact. That’s where Unitus Capital comes in. As of Q1-2011, Unitus Capital has raised more than $550 million in equity and debt capital for these poverty impact businesses.  More about Unitus Capital >

Unitus Equity Fund: Early-Stage Microfinance Venture Investment Fund

By 2004, Unitus Labs’s Microfinance Acceleration project was making great progress in finding a growing number of entrepreneurs seeking to build a new generation of high-growth, financially sustainable MFIs. The issue is that they were still relatively small operations and the few investors were concentrating their capital in the more mature, larger, lower-risk (but slower growing) MFIs. To address this demand, Unitus raised the first microfinance venture funded with private investors focused on early stage MFIs.  This catalytic equity has proven to be critical in the rapid expansion of microfinance services. More about Unitus Equity Fund >

Historical Initiatives of Unitus

Unitus Labs: Ultra-Poor Initiative

Unitus has always had an interest in how we can reach out to provide opportunity to poor people in innovative ways. It is common knowledge that microfinance only reaches down so far as it requires microcredit borrowers to have a reasonably reliable microbusiness opportunity which enables them to repay their loan. So microfinance excludes the so-called “ultra-poor” who often survive with begging and other charitable systems. The conventional thinking is that these ultra-poor will always be “charity cases”. Unitus decided to challenge this theory by sponsoring a number of innovative pilot projects to learn about how ultra-poor could be provided opportunities for livelihoods to earn more income. More about Ultra-Poor Initiative >

Unitus Labs: Microfinance Acceleration

With inspiration from Muhammad Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank), Unitus founders identified an opportunity and a strategy to support development of a new generation of microfinance organizations in underserved markets. Unitus employed a diligence process to identify high-potential, early-stage MFIs and then setup multi-year, goal-driven partnerships to help them realize their impact. Unitus Labs provided (and arranged) catalytic debt capital and strategic consulting services to enable 22 MFIs to grow at 100% per year — 8 times the industry average. When Unitus announced our decision in mid 2010 to wind-down this project, partner MFIs were serving more 12 million families. More about Microfinance Acceleration >

Unitus Labs: Social Performance Management

One of the ongoing discussions/debates about microfinance is how much (or how little) improvement microfinance services bring to poor families. One of the most challenging tasks is how to pragmatically measure the benefits when you’re dealing with the very complex life dynamics of people living in poverty. More about Social Performance Management >

Unitus Labs: Africa Microfinance Growth Centre

In 2009, Unitus decided to research the needs and opportunities to bring substantial expansion of microfinance to the largely unserved rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Rather than just do a study, Unitus partnered with FSDK to launch an executive development center for senior leaders of existing MFIs in East Africa. This provided a learning, support and networking environment to fuel new innovative approaches to the challenges of African rural microfinance. More about Africa Microfinance Growth Centre >