Unitus Microfinance Partner Grameen Koota Improves the Lives of 100,000 of India's Working Poor

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Bangalore-based microfinance institution achieves rapid growth with support from Unitus.

Grameen Koota, a Unitus microfinance institution partner in India, today announced that it is now providing life-changing financial services to more than 100,000 of India's working poor. Grameen Koota is bringing economic opportunity to a huge underserved market: 800 million of India's 1 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Grameen Koota's accomplishment is especially noteworthy because fewer than 2 percent of microfinance institutions in the world reach the 100,000-client benchmark, making Grameen Koota a leader in the fight to alleviate global poverty. Through its multi-year partnership with Unitus, Grameen Koota plans to reach 500,000 of India's working poor by 2010.

Grameen Koota is based in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, where an estimated 3.5 million people lack access to formal financial services. Offering a variety of financial services, including microcredit loans and insurance products, Grameen Koota focuses on serving the poorest of the poor, with most of its clients earning less than US $130 annually. A significant percentage of Grameen Koota clients use their loans for animal husbandry, trading or agriculturally-based businesses, while others use loans to increase their access to clean water and sanitation. Clean water and sanitation are especially important as illnesses linked to un-hygienic conditions can have devastating effects on a microfinance client's ability to work and make a living. Grameen Koota also offers workshops which include training in health, literacy, and business development.

Unitus, a leading social enterprise based in Redmond, Washington, began its partnership with Grameen Koota in April 2005. In addition to pledging $100,000 in grants, Unitus has provided Grameen Koota with capacity-building consulting in the areas of human resources, financial management and strategic growth planning. Since the inception of the partnership Unitus has helped Grameen Koota add roughly 80,000 clients.

Unitus partners with high-potential microfinance institutions such as Grameen Koota and provides them with technical assistance and financial support, including loans, grants and guarantees, to help them reach more of the world's working poor. By offering financial services such as microcredit loans, insurance and savings products, Unitus's 13 microfinance partners empower the poor to improve their own lives through economic self-sufficiency. Using its proven microfinance acceleration model, Unitus's microfinance partners have been able to grow eight times faster than similar institutions. As further evidence of Unitus's proven acceleration model, five of the 13 Unitus partners already reach more than 100,000 clients. As of February 2007, the Unitus portfolio of partners is providing economic and social empowerment to more than 1.6 million microentrepreneurs and their families in India, Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Indonesia.

"This is an exciting milestone for Grameen Koota," said Vinatha Reddy, Founder and CEO of Grameen Koota. "We're providing 100,000 of India's poorest citizens with the financial tools they need to work their way out of poverty. While we celebrate our achievement, we recognize that there are still many working poor in our region who don't yet have access to microfinance. With the support of Unitus and all our stakeholders, we're committed to reaching our goal of serving 500,000 customers by 2010."

Said Geoff Davis, President and CEO of Unitus: "Grameen Koota shows us how vision, operational excellence and hard work can achieve amazing results. We chose to partner with Grameen Koota because we knew they were serious about reaching more of India's poor with microfinance. By serving 100,000 clients today they've proven their ability to turn that promise into reality. We look forward to working closely with Grameen Koota in the years ahead to continue this impressive and important growth."

About Grameen Koota:
Founded in 1999, Grameen Koota provides microcredit loans and insurance products to the poorest of the poor -- usually those earning less than US $130 annually -- in the south Indian state of Karnataka. Grameen Koota currently reaches 100,000 clients and plans to offer financial services to more than 500,000 of India's working poor by 2010. The Founder and CEO of Grameen Koota is Vinatha Reddy, one of the few women in the world to lead a major microfinance institution.

About Unitus:
Unitus is a worldwide leader in scaling proven solutions to global poverty. We partner with the world's most promising microfinance institutions to accelerate access to life-changing financial services for those living at the bottom of the economic pyramid; the 3 billion people who currently live on less than $2 a day. Unitus combines time-tested business strategies with an unwavering commitment to transforming lives. We deliver advisory services, mission-critical business solutions and access to capital to a portfolio of microfinance partners around the world, and empower them to achieve growth rates of over 100% per year. The Unitus global portfolio now reaches more than 1.6 million micro-entrepreneurs and their families in Argentina, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines, and will reach more than 15 million of the world's working poor by 2015. Unitus has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR, and received Fast Company Magazine's Social Capitalist award in 2005 and 2006. Unitus is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, with offices in Redmond, WA and Bangalore, India. For more information, please visit http://www.unitus.com.

Media Contact:
Robert Lowry
Public Relations Associate
Unitus
Tel: +1 (425) 881-2574

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ROBERT LOWRY
Unitus
425-881-2574
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