On Bailouts, Boons and Bill Clinton

So living in New York City has made it damn near impossible to not be wrapped up in the minute by minute saga that is the US financial crisis. Moreover, the fact that here at Stern Business School, over 50% of our job prospects have evaporated with the slew of bankruptcies and buyouts has effectively forced this issue to the fore of nearly all of my conversations with people.

Given the magnitude, surprise and potential dangers of this crisis, I am about to break one of the unofficial rules of this blog and actually talk about something that is happening outside of India’s borders. I am doing this for three reasons: first, the effects of this financial crisis will no doubt have ripple effects the world over including people all the way in rural India; second, this financial crisis has very unique characteristics that we can learn from with regard to microfinance; and third, the global implications of how the US deals with this crisis has huge symbolic and practical ramifications.

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Unitus to recieve $9 million support from Omidyar Network

IndiaWest Online reports that Unitus, Seattle and Bangalore based organization providing consulting support to MFIs, just received a $9 million grant from Omidyar Network. The grant is meant to support expansion of Unitus programs beyond India.

The article features one of Unitus partners, MokshaYug Access (MYA). MYA recently received $2 million funding from Unitus Equity Fund (UEF) and we have featured MYA in this space before:

One of Unitus’s success stories in India is Moksha Yug Access, founded by 36-year-old Harsha Moily. MYA is based in Bagalkot, a rural district outside Bangalore. The organization partnered with Unitus in 2007, its second year of operation.

“The consultancy service from Unitus brought more efficiency to our operations which translated into lower interest rates for our borrowers,” Moily told India-West by telephone from Bagalkot. “I have access to the brightest minds at Unitus,” he said.

TC-I FundWatch

Editor’s note: In order to more quickly provide our readers with pertinent information, ThinkChange India has created TC-I FundWatch, a regular post that summarizes important investments made by social and traditional venture capital firms that directly affect the lives of India’s poor. This way, on Tuesdays, our readers will be able to get a regular update on the financial activity in this fast moving space.


  • Unitus, a nonprofit focused on accelerating access to microfinance that operates in India in addition to other countries, has received a USD 9 million grant from the Omidyar Network. This is the largest grant to date. [Source: Microcapital.org]
  • Bharat Integrated Social Welfare Agency (BISWA) has sold USD 5.9 million of its agricultural assets, otherwise known as agri assets to private banks — another example of the growing trend of MFIs securitizing their loans for capital infusions. Grameen Capital India (GCI) was responsible for securing the deal. [Source: Microcapital.org]


  • Rabobank, a Dutch financial institution, will establish a $100 million private equity fund in India focused on small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture value chain. [Source: VC Circle]
  • Lighthouse Funds is launching their 2020 Opportunity Fund — a $100 million that will focus on investing in fast growing small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). [Source: VC Cirlce].

TC-I Week in Review

Here are the top 3 posts over the last seven days.

  1. Santhosh’s discussion of cricket teams hiring the Washington Redskins cheerleaders find and train homegrown versions garnered substantial attention.
  2. In second place, another post from Santhosh. This time he highlights the creation of the country’s first social investment management company.
  3. In third place, an older op-ed written by Prerna on the Parle-G Biscuits also was widely read.

Highlighted Jobs, Internships and Opportunities

  1. We posted on a new opening at Unitus for a senior associate.
  2. Acumen Fund is looking for a legal associate.
  3. Also, the deadline for the Atlas Corps fellowship is fast approaching.

Reaching into the Archives

Prerna sometime back took a critical look on migration and its effects on society. Check it out again here.

Midday Newsfeed

A rural supply chain firm MokshaYug Access (MYA) has received funding of Rs 8.35 crore ($2 million) from Unitus Equity Fund L P (UEF), an Unitus supported organisation to fund microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Asia and Latin America. The amount will go towards building supply chain and infrastructure for dairy farming and healthcare centers, expand its microfinance arm and setting up of branch offices for microfinance services, soil and water quality testing and agriculture and rural infrastructure support services.

The stock markets showed signs of stability at lower levels as the Sensex recovered by 109 points in late morning deals after yesterday’s heavy sell-off, despite weakness in Asian indices. Taking a cue from weak Asian markets, the Bombay Stock Exchange 30-share barometer opened lower at 14,725 and dropped to 14,677.

Around 250,000 families have protested against the rigging of the below poverty line (BPL) lists in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha districts, which are in the grip of a severe agricultural crisis, and where inclusion in the list is essential for the poor to access their entitlements.

The UN’s Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) launched the Global Sanitation Fund on March 14 in Geneva, seeking to raise funds and contribute to country-specific sanitation, water and hygiene programs in poor communities around the world. Drawing further attention to the problem, the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and WSSCC are inviting water and sanitation advocates to gather at the U.N. Palace in Geneva to celebrate World Water Day 2008. A sister event is being organized to take place in New York City’s Central Park.

Goldman Sachs to Provide Management Education to Women Social Entrepreneurs

While the work of microfinance institutions such as Grameen Bank and Unitus have done wonders to empower women in developing countries, these budding entrepreneurs continue to lack any formal business training. To address this dearth in education, Goldman Sachs announced last week that it will invest $100 million over the next five years to provide management education to help women microfinance clients scale up their businesses.

In an announcement at Columbia University in New York City, Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said the company is hoping to create a new model of management education designed to help these women learn everything from how to write a business plan to market their own business. The company will be teaming up with a coalition of top business schools, including Wharton, Columbia, Harvard, and Thunderbird School of Global Management is teaming up with the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul to develop a certificate program and a training program for professors.

“This could be the start of something transformational around the world,” says Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, which will work with the University of Cape Town Business School in South Africa to create a new business training certificate program.

Microcapital.org writes that in addition to funding the program Goldman also intends to build a network of female entrepreneurs throughout the world.

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