Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Calvert Foundation announced today that it invested a total of $1 million during the first quarter of 2006 in Davis, California-based MicroCredit Enterprises (MCE), a not-for-profit, anti- poverty business venture that leverages private capital to make tiny business loans to people — mostly women — living in extreme poverty in developing countries. The microloans promoted by MCE are provided at low rates that avoid the crippling costs and heightened risk of failure that result from the predatory loan rates of 35-40 percent that typically are forced on women entrepreneurs in such circumstances.

The investments in MCE were part of $3 million in total disbursements from the Calvert Foundation in the first quarter.

Calvert Foundation Executive Director Shari Berenbach said: “Support for more — and more affordable — microloans to women in developing nations is an important way that our investors can channel Community Investments to lift whole communities out of poverty. Women in too many nations remain underserved by conventional banking channels, even though micro-enterprise and small business growth is essential for economic stability of families, communities and entire nations. In addition to our support during the first quarter for MicroCredit Enterprises, we also continued to strengthen our domestic portfolio by directing close to $750,000 to help build affordable homes and finance small businesses across the U.S.”

MicroCredit Enterprises CEO Jonathan C. Lewis said: “The affordable capital we are able to secure through Calvert Foundation’s investment enables us to reach a wider range of clients. The impoverished loan recipients we serve generally have no credit history, no collateral and no formal education, but with microloans, they create and build home-based businesses. MicroCredit Enterprises is deeply committed to reaching microfinance institutions in developing countries that serve poorer, more rural, more isolated women and their children. Typically, these are individuals struggling to get by on a $1.00 per day or less.”

In addition to the $1 million directed to MicroCredit Enterprises, the following Calvert Foundation investments also were made during the first quarter: MI-BOSPO ($250,000, providing microloans for Bosnian women recovering from the conflict there in the 1990s); OikoCredit ($326,396, for international microcredit initiatives); Montana Community Development Corporation ($200,000, for support of small business loans in this rural state); Latin America Challenge Investment Fund, SA – LACIF ($600,000, for microfinance support); Equal Exchange, Inc. ($200,000, to a coffee company that helps fair trade coffee farmers by purchasing directly from farmers and eliminating the middlemen, thereby securing higher wages for the farmers); and McAllen Affordable Homes, Inc. ($500,000, for low-income housing in the Texas border area).

The organizations that Calvert Foundation’s investors support range from coffee cooperatives and affordable housing developers to international microfinance intermediaries.

Calvert Foundation channels community investment capital on behalf of over 2,400 individual investors who purchase Community Investment Notes. These investors create significant social impact with their investments while receiving a fixed return of their choice, between 0-3% depending on term. Investments are professionally managed to deliver high social impact and protect investors from loss through rigorous screening portfolio diversification and credit enhancements.

Source: PR Newswire (link opens in a new window)