Unitus Announces Partnership with Vardan Trust in India

vardan microfinance

Bangalore, May, 14 2007 - Partnership to Provide Life-Changing Microfinance Services to More than 209,000 Clients by 2010

Unitus, a worldwide leader in scaling innovative solutions to global poverty, today announced its partnership with Vardan Trust, a microfinance institution in Gujarat, India. By providing financial support and expert consulting, Unitus will play a key role in accelerating Vardan Trust’s growth. Vardan Trust aims to provide more than 209,000 working poor and their families with life-changing microcredit loans and other important financial services by 2010.

Unitus is a leading social enterprise that empowers the working poor to improve their own lives by rapidly expanding the supply of financial services such as microcredit loans, insurance and savings products. Unitus provides technical assistance and financial support; including loans, grants and guarantees, to help microfinance institutions to grow rapidly and reach even more of the world’s working poor. Through its proven acceleration model, Unitus’s 16 microfinance partners have been able to grow eight times faster than similar institutions. As of February 2007, the Unitus portfolio of partners is providing economic and social empowerment to more than 1.7 million working poor and their families in India, Kenya, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Vardan Trust was established in 1998 and initially focused on women’s empowerment, child development and natural resource management in the state of Gujarat in India. Recognizing that 62 percent of Gujarat’s population does not have access to financial services, Vardan Trust began offering microfinance in 2003, and today the institution is focused entirely on microfinance. Vardan Trust offers basic income-generating loans to more than 10,000 customers, including farmers, small shop owners, artisans, vegetable vendors, and those engaged in animal husbandry. Currently operating in northeast Gujarat, Vardan Trust has plans to expand throughout Gujarat and to other states in India in the future.

Unitus will help Vardan Trust grow dramatically by offering advice in areas such as human resources, product development and technology. In addition, Unitus is providing a grant to Vardan Trust to identify and overcome obstacles to rapid growth. Unitus will also help Vardan Trust raise the funds needed to fuel its continued expansion, and advise Vardan Trust as it transforms to a for-profit institution.

“Gujarat has a history synonymous with entrepreneurship,” said Vardan Trust CEO Mahesh Vara. “However, while a select few entrepreneurs have become global figures, the majority

of people in Gujarat have struggled to achieve their potential due primarily to a lack of access to essential financial services. Our mission is to bridge this gap, allowing the hard-working and enterprising poor to maximize their potential. Working with Unitus will allow us to do this more quickly and on a much larger scale.”

“Microfinance, at its core, is about entrepreneurship; it is only natural that microfinance will thrive in a region renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit,” said Unitus CEO Geoff Davis. “We see tremendous potential for alleviating poverty through microfinance in Gujarat and we’re confident the team at Vardan Trust is well-equipped to lead the way. We look forward to working together to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of working poor.”

About Vardan Trust

Based in Dahod, Gujarat, Vardan Trust was established in 1998 and was initially focused on women’s empowerment, child development and natural resource management. In response to an overwhelming need for access to financial services, microfinance activities were started in 2003. Today the organization reaches roughly 10,000 clients and is focused solely on microfinance. It recently began the process of transformation to a for-profit finance company and hopes to complete the transformation by summer 2007. By 2010 Vardan Trust plans to reach more than 200,000 clients.

About Unitus

Unitus is a worldwide leader at scaling innovative solutions to global poverty. Unitus accelerates access to life-changing financial services for those living at the bottom of the economic pyramid – the three billion people who are living on less than $2 a day. We partner with the world’s most promising microfinance institutions and provide them with breakthrough business strategies, technology and access to capital that empower them to serve thousands more hardworking micro-entrepreneurs around the world. Unitus partners are adding new loan recipients eight times fasted than the industry average. Our portfolio reaches more than 1.7 million families in Argentina, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines. Our goal is to 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 on National Public Radio, and received Fast Company magazine’s Social Capitalist award in 2005 and 2006.

Unitus has offices in Redmond, Wash. and Bangalore, India. For more information, please visit www.unitus.com or contact us at info@unitus.com

Source: www.syminvest.com

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