Monday, February 26, 2007

Unitus

In response to last Friday's post about microfinance funds, the marketing director of Unitus send me an email message. It turns out that similar to Accion International and The Calvert Foundation, Unitus received the Fast Company Social Capitalist Award. And like Accion, Unitus is also a Charity Navigator 4-Star Charity.

It doesn't appear that Unitus has any funds in which one can invest to get a monetary return for oneself. Instead, they accept donations which they use to accelerate and magnify the efforts of Microfinance Institutions (MFI) in Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The ironic thing about a microfinance organization asking for donated funds is that the whole idea behind microfinance is that it's sustainable and is not, in fact, charity. Microfinance founder and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying "Charity is not the answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue. It creates dependency and takes away the individual's initiative to break through the wall of poverty." I'm not saying the irony means I wouldn't donate to Unitus or other microfinance organizations. In fact, I have donated to the Perpetual Education Fund, which loans money to people so they can gain an education.

Again, I need to do more research about microfinance. Unitus looks like an innovative and entrepreneurial organization worth learning about.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I work for a microfinance organization, Opportunity International. You can check us out at www.opportunity.org. Our work overseas is sustainable and not in need of donation. We ask for donations, however, to rapidly expand our programs and to continue to start banks for the poor in new countries!