TechWeb

Foundations Team Up With eBay and Calvert Foundation to Launch Web-Based Portal for Everyday People to Invest in the World's Working Poor

Jan 29, 2008 (10:01 AM EST)
URL: http://www.techweb.com/show-press-release/X670397/foundations-team-up-with-ebay-and-calvert-foundation-to-launch-web-based-portal-for-everyday-people-to-invest-in-the-world-s-working-poor.html

Paving the Way to Success: MacArthur, DOEN foundation, Rockefeller Foundations, Omidyar Network and OPIC Invest $16 Million to Help Create New Way for Everyday People to Help Alleviate Poverty.

BETHESDA, Md., Jan 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- MicroPlace ( http://www.Microplace.com ) -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay Inc. that provides an easy way for everyday people to invest in the world's working poor by leveraging the power of microfinance -- attracted more than 1,000 new investments and nearly a half million dollars to the Calvert Social Investment Foundation (Calvert Foundation) between its launch on October 24, 2007 and the end of the last calendar year. These initial efforts have seeded a whole new online financing system that connects social investors with microfinance overseas, expected to grow to hundreds of millions of dollars over time.

In lauding the surge of new investment activity in just a few weeks, Calvert Foundation officials noted the crucial role played by $16 million in front-end investments provided to non-profit Calvert Foundation to defray start-up expenses and establish an essential risk-capital pool needed to protect retail investors. The fundraising included: $2.25 million from the Omidyar Network (initial grant support for operations, net assets and loan loss reserves); and $200,000 from Rockefeller Foundation (grant). Program Related Investments (PRIs) included $1.2 million DOEN Foundation (junior subdebt); $2 million from MacArthur Foundation (junior subdebt); and $10 million from OPIC (senior subdebt; scheduled to close this month).

Calvert Foundation Executive Director Shari Berenbach said: "As a success from the very beginning, MicroPlace is rewriting the rulebook of how people can participate in ending poverty through the power of microfinance. We want to make sure that everyone understands that by teaming up with eBay, foundations demonstrate that they are committed to doing more than just talking about how to end poverty. These are the organizations that put the financing on the line, both grants and program-related investments, to make possible the groundbreaking initiatives that are attacking poverty head on."

With the launch of MicroPlace.com, for the first time, consumers in the U.S. can use the internet to make microfinance investments that simultaneously provide a financial return while addressing global poverty. Additionally, MicroPlace's unique business model creates a self-sustaining marketplace that will serve as an efficient and scalable way for capital to flow into the microfinance industry. Through MicroPlace's secure platform, everyday people can purchase investments -- for as little as $100 -- from microfinance security issuers. MicroPlace also enables investors to direct the impact of their investment to a specific country and microfinance institution in the developing world. The microfinance institutions use the funds to make small loans to the working poor, who in turn use the loans to start or expand small businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. Over time, this new model is expected to become an important capital source to meet the needs of billions of micro-entrepreneurs across the globe.

Foundation participation has been essential to building this new microfinance marketplace. Stringent securities guidelines require that non-profit securities issuers, like Calvert Foundation, demonstrate significant credit enhancements to make this a suitable investment for the average investor. Foundation grants and program related investments have been deployed to meet these requirements, establishing the potential to leverage investments from the public many times over.

The first half million, raised in the initial weeks of operation, is just the beginning and shows how corporations and philanthropy can build new and lasting market-based strategies to move those earning less than $2 per day out of poverty.

Highlights of the launch through December 31, 2007 statistics for Calvert Foundation's role in MicroPlace include the following:

-- Total of 1,070 new investments in Calvert Foundation investors by the end of calendar year 2007.

-- Average online investments since the MicroPlace launch have been $4,825 per day.

-- The average investment is $327.24, ranging from $100 to $10,000.

-- Investments have been made by individuals in 46 states and the District of Columbia. California accounts for nearly half of all investments to date.

-- Among the leading projects that are being supported by MicroPlace through Calvert Foundation are Kenya Women's Finance Trust, PRIDE (Tanzania); IMON (Tajikstan); FUNDESER (Nicaragua); Pro Mujer (Bolivia); and TPC (Cambodia).

As a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of FINRA (formerly NASD), MicroPlace is currently the only broker-dealer specializing in microfinance securities for retail investors. MicroPlace selected Calvert Foundation -- a leader in community investment that manages investments for over 3,000 individuals and institutions seeking to support communities around the world through their portfolios -- as the first issuer to sell investments on MicroPlace.

Calvert Foundation is using the funds generated from the sale of securities on MicroPlace to invest in microfinance institutions targeted by investors online. Calvert Foundation will also be responsible for making interest and principal payments to investors.

Berenbach added: "Calvert Foundation has been working hard for over 12 years to mobilize individual investor capital to support microfinance. Working with MicroPlace gives us the opportunity to offer microfinance investments for as little as $100 for the first time. We believe this will enable more individuals to invest in microfinance and help grow the industry as a whole to significantly improve the lives of the working poor around the world."

ABOUT CALVERT FOUNDATION

For over 12 years, Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, has been working to make community investment a safe and logical option for all investors seeking to make a positive social impact. To make community investment accessible to a wider audience, Calvert Foundation has removed critical barriers by creating investment products such as the Calvert Community Investment Note that blends both financial and social returns. With more than $170 million in assets, Calvert Foundation focuses on using investment capital, rather than conventional philanthropy, to create a sustainable, scalable model that enables nonprofit organizations and social enterprises to address critical social problems.

Editor's Note: Calvert Foundation is a separate entity from Calvert Group Ltd. and its products should not be confused with any Calvert Group-sponsored investment product. In order to avoid confusion and be consistent when referring to Calvert Foundation in print news stories, always use "Calvert Foundation" as opposed to "Calvert" in headlines and subheads.

CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, +1-703-276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com,for Calvert Foundation

Web site: http://www.MicroPlace.com/