May 13, 2008, Dubai, New York, Redwood City, Calif. – Legatum and Omidyar Network announced today a US $40 million co-investment in Unitus Equity Fund II (UEF II). Each firm will invest US$20 million in the fund, which is led by the team behind one of the most successful microfinance private equity funds to date, Unitus Equity Fund I (UEF I). Like its predecessor, UEF II will provide capital to growth-oriented MFIs that are run by visionary, entrepreneurial leaders. In addition, UEF II will expand the focus of UEF I by investing in companies offering products and services that enable the world’s poor to create opportunities for themselves and their communities.
"The microfinance industry is at a tipping point. With the application of patient, long-term capital from investors, we believe it is possible to accelerate the roll out of low cost credit to the world’s poor. This has the potential to enable millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty," commented Philip Vassiliou, Managing Director of Legatum. "This joint investment with Omidyar Network reflects our shared belief that enterprise offers one of the best long term solutions to poverty. Our co-investment in the Unitus Equity Fund II reflects Legatum’s confidence in its management team, who have a proven track record of success investing in MFIs around the globe."
Both Legatum and Omidyar Network are furthering their commitment to microfinance with their co-investment in UEF II. Legatum, a private firm that invests in global capital markets and initiatives that support social development, made investments in 2007 in SHARE Microfin Limited, Financial Information Network & Operations Ltd. (FINO), A.Little.World, and Intellecap, which all work to extend financial access to the poor. Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, has committed $83 million in investments and grants to increase access to microfinance services since 2004. In April 2008, Omidyar Network provided a three year, $9 million expansion grant to Unitus, the non-profit organization that launched UEF I.
Noting Omidyar Network’s continued commitment to the Unitus Equity Fund, Jim Bunch, Director of Investments, said, “UEF I has demonstrated that microfinance institutions can scale rapidly, significantly impact the lives of borrowers, and deliver commercial returns to investors. We are excited to work with Legatum and UEF II to create opportunities for people to improve their lives and contribute to their families and communities."
Chris Brookfield, Managing Director of UEF II added, "This investment from Legatum and Omidyar Network demonstrates that some of the world’s most successful investors find value backing entrepreneurs focused on the poor in developing countries. We are delighted to have this support.”
Legatum is a privately owned international investment organisation, whose primary focus is commercial investment and which also applies its investor’s expertise to a long-standing involvement in sustainable community development around the globe. Headquartered in Dubai, the Legatum Group was founded in December 2006 following the demerger of the Sovereign Global group of companies ("Sovereign") which provided capital to companies and governments in various industry sectors worldwide since 1986. Legatum’s mission is to promote excellence in both global investment and sustainable development, and the Group is composed of a number of divisions: Legatum Capital, Legatum Global Development; the Legatum Institute, and the Legatum Center at MIT. For further information, please visit www.legatum.com.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm committed to creating opportunity for individuals. 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.
About the Unitus Equity Fund II
The Unitus Equity Fund II is a private equity fund focused on the 4 billion poor in developing countries. The fund intends to bridge the gap between these underserved communities and global capital, helping to create a virtuous cycle of opportunity based on open access for all. The Unitus Equity Fund II will provide equity capital to high growth microfinance institutions and to social entrepreneurs. UEF II is managed by Chris Brookfield, Maya Chorengel, Johanna Posada and Sandeep Farias and is a strategic affiliate of Unitus, Inc., an international nonprofit organization. For more information, please visit www.unitusequityfund.com.
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. For more information, please visit www.unitus.com.