Redmond, Wash.-based Unitus has closed the world’s largest fully privately-funded microfinance private equity fund at $23.4 million, it said today. The Unitus Equity Fund will focus on microfinance institutions in Asia and Latin America, and has already invested in three entities, including two in India and one in Mexico. It expects to make another five investments this year.
Unitus said it will utilize a “venture capital approach,” investing in “younger, growth-oriented microfinance institutions run by visionary, entrepreneurial leaders.”
Launched in the spring of 2006, the Unitus Equity Fund claims to be the first 100% privately-funded equity fund active in the microfinance industry. Limited partners in the vehicle include Omidyar Network, the clients of Abacus Wealth Partners, and Kensington Investments.
The fund is being run by Chris Brookfield, director, and advised by Geoff Woolley, board chair.
"Investing in microfinance institutions makes good economic sense,” said Woolley. “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. The fact that the Fund was oversubscribed is great validation of our investment strategy and goals."
Ten percent of the Fund's profit will go to Unitus, which is a 501-c3 nonprofit organization, to further its work to increase access to microfinance for the world's working poor.