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Unitus closes microfinance fund

Unitus Equity Fund has decided to set aside 10 percent of its profits to help the world’s poor gain access to microfinance.

The Unitus Equity Fund, an affiliate of global poverty-focused nonprofit Unitus, has closed at $23 million. The fund will make investments in Asian and Latin American microfinancing institutions.

“Investing in microfinance institutions makes good economic sense,” Geoff Woolley, chairman of the fund’s board, said in a statement. “These small banks that are servicing the poor are growing at triple digit rates. As time progresses, these groups will become a conduit of additional products and services to the developing world populations. The solid financial returns that investors are expecting from our investments reflect optimism in the rapid growth that will result when the poor gain access to more and more economic opportunity.”

Ten percent of Unitus Equity Fund’s profits will go to its parent company to help impoverished individuals gain access to microfinance, the statement said.

Limited partners include Omidyar Network, a for-profit and nonprofit investor established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, the clients of wealth management and financial planning firm Abacus Wealth Partners and real estate investment securities investment advisor Kensington Investments. Chris Brookfield leads the fund as its director.

The Redmond, Washington-based fund has already made three investments, including SKS Microfinance Pvt and Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt, providers of aid to India’s rural and urban poor, respectively. It has also invested in Credex, a Mexican microfinance institution.

Unitus helps microfinance institutions accelerate their growth and provide the working poor access to financial services like microcredit loans, insurance and savings products. In addition to its headquarters in Washington State, it also has an office in Bangalore, India. It has provided assistance to individuals and families in India, Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Indonesia.