Unitus Expands to the Philippines with Lifebank Partnership

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Partnership to bring microfinance to 270,000 poor families by 2009.

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Unitus will help us replicate the kind of success we've had so far on a much broader scale. We're very excited to have Unitus's resources and expertise behind us as we grow to serve more of the Philippines' working poor.

Unitus, Inc., an organization which creates innovative solutions to global poverty, today announced its partnership with Lifebank Foundation, a microfinance institution (MFI) in the Philippines. Through the partnership Unitus will provide Lifebank with a $250,000 grant as well as expert consulting to help accelerate Lifebank's growth. With Unitus's support, Lifebank plans to grow from its current base of just over 55,000 clients to more than 270,000 clients by 2009.

Unitus, based in Redmond, Washington, with an office in Bangalore, India, identifies and partners with the highest-potential MFIs in the world. By providing capital investment and consulting services, Unitus helps its MFI partners accelerate their growth so that they can serve dramatically more poor clients. With the addition of Lifebank, Unitus has 11 MFI partners serving more than 1 million clients in India, Kenya, Mexico, Argentina and the Philippines. Unitus's innovative, entrepreneurial approach to finding, partnering with, and growing microfinance institutions puts it on track to help its partners reach 15 million clients by 2015.

Lifebank is one of the Philippines' fastest-growing MFIs, doubling the number of clients it serves in the last two years. Lifebank has recently expanded from its original location in central Philippines (the Visayas region) to provide microfinance to clients in Luzon and Mindanao. With a vision for nationwide growth, Lifebank offers its clients a range of financial services using methodology adopted from a highly successful MFI in Bangladesh called ASA which reaches more than 6.3 million clients. These services include loans, basic insurance and financial products that smooth family income.

Unitus will help Lifebank build its senior management team and implement new MIS (management information systems) technology, while assisting with Lifebank's transition to a for-profit microfinance thrift bank. By taking a seat on Lifebank's board, Unitus will be able to offer strategic guidance to Lifebank's executives.

"With nearly 50 percent of the Philippine population living on less than $2 a day, there is a tremendous need to expand the reach of microfinance in our country," said Lifebank President Vincent Perlas. "Unitus will help us replicate the kind of success we've had so far on a much broader scale. We're very excited to have Unitus's resources and expertise behind us as we grow to serve more of the Philippines' working poor."

Said Unitus President and CEO Geoff Davis: "I'm delighted to welcome Lifebank as our 11th partner. Lifebank exhibits exactly what we look for in a Unitus partner: an eagerness to reduce poverty coupled with a strong business model. Their focus on growth and a strong management team will enable them to extend financial services to thousands of families in the Philippines. With this exciting partnership, Lifebank joins the Unitus network of the fastest growing MFIs in the world."

About Unitus

Unitus, Inc. is a nonprofit organization creating innovative solutions to global poverty using a venture capital model. Unitus dramatically accelerates the growth of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and demonstrates that many MFIs can be run as profitable, large-scale, poverty-focused businesses with links to formal capital markets. As of November 2006, Unitus had 11 MFI partners worldwide serving more than 1 million poor clients. By 2015 Unitus MFI partners plan to reach 15 million clients, 10 million in India alone. Based in Redmond, WA, USA and with offices in Bangalore, India, Unitus relies on innovative financial instruments and the resources of like-minded individuals and foundations to fulfill its mission. Unitus received the 2006 Fast Company Social Capitalist Award for taking an innovative, business-minded approach to alleviating global poverty. For more information about Unitus, please visit: http://www.unitus.com.

About Lifebank

Established in January 2003, Lifebank Foundation provides financial products to poor families throughout the Visayas region of the Philippines. Starting in August 2006, Lifebank began expanding to other parts of the country, including Luzon and Mindanao. Lifebank has grown rapidly in the last three years and currently serves more than 55,000 clients, with the goal of reaching 270,000 clients by 2009. Led by a visionary management team, Lifebank offers its members loans, basic insurance and financial products that smooth family income.

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ROBERT LOWRY
Unitus, Inc.
425-881-2574
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