Monday, May 22, 2006

Venture Capital for 3d World Microfinance

A Seattle nonprofit is aiding 3d world development by arranging and financing micro loans. Micro loans are small loans - no more than $500 - for the express purpose of financing small family businesses. Mike Murray, ex-Microsoft, started Unitus a few years ago to provide micro loans financed by donations. He professionalized by hiring Geoff Davis to be the CEO. But they realized that they could never scale up adequately with funding from donors. So they decided to get investors to put their money up. As the Seattle Times reports:
Mike Murray, a former Microsoft executive, founded Unitus in 2000 with the aim of improving the industry. In microfinancing's 30-year history, loans have been distributed to 20 percent, or 100 million, of the 500 million people in the world who could benefit from the loans. "In business, after 30 years, if you have only reached 20 percent market share, you aren't successful," Murray said. "That's not good enough. It works well, but the industry hasn't grown."
Venture capitalist Chris Brookfield joined them this month. Wow. What a career move. They have already raised $8.5 million, aiming much higher. They expect to earn a good return for the investors. PROFIT. The Sea Times just couldn't say it.

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