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December 14, 2006

CI Notes Permit US Investors to Follow in Footsteps of Nobel Peace Prize Winner
By Calvert Foundation

The Calvert Community Investment Note, Calvert Foundation's innovative financial product allows individual investors to invest directly in microfinance. Calvert Foundation offers investors a unique opportunity to help microentrepreneurs while earning a modest financial return. --


Calvert Foundation Offers Unique, Safe and Convenient Way for Individuals to Invest in Microfinance in 100+ Countries; Examples Cited of Impacts in Bosnia, Colombia, India, and Tanzania.

BETHESDA, MD.///December 14, 2006///Investors inspired by the groundbreaking microfinance work of Bangladeshi economist and Nobel Prize winner Muhammed Yunus can achieve the same impact in more than 100 countries around the world through “Community Investment Notes,” a unique investment opportunity available from Calvert Foundation.

Yunus and the Grameen Bank accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday (December 10, 2006) for their work in pioneering microlending, what are often tiny loans to help poor entrepreneurs start microenterprises and small businesses. Most of these loans go to women who use the income to support their families’ basic needs, create jobs, and become more empowered community members. As loans are repaid, the funds are lent out to additional entrepreneurs who, because of their lack of credit history, often are not able to receive financing from traditional sources.

Though the vast majority of financial support for microfinance is provided through international banks, AID agencies and other institutions, Calvert Community Investment Notes make it possible for U.S. retail investors to invest their capital in microfinance institutions. More than 2,400 investors are already invested in Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Notes, which have financed over 120,000 microenterprises and created over 165,000 jobs around the globe. Since 1995, the Community Investment Notes have channeled U.S. investor dollars to microfinance institutions -- including the Grameen Fund of Bangladesh, associated with the Prize winning Grameen Bank – in 106 countries.

Shari Berenbach, executive director, Calvert Foundation, said: “Individual investors in the U.S. who find inspiration in the important work of Muhammed Yunus have a real way here to follow his example. Community Investment Notes allow every individual a way to make a difference by investing their capital in impoverished communities - reversing inequality, attacking poverty at its roots, and creating hope and economic opportunity where it is most needed. The growing ranks of investors in the Community Investment Notes are making a real difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and the communities in which they live all around the world.”

Commenting on the importance of the Calvert Foundation, Camilla Nestor, manager, Growth Guarantees, Grameen Foundation, said: “Capital raised through the Community Investment Note has been an important source of financing for several microfinance institutions associated with the Grameen Foundation. It is available on flexible terms, can be used to support local currency loans and helps microfinance institutions focus on serving important local needs.”

In terms of its structure, Community Investment Notes act like a fixed-income product that is roughly comparable to a taxable municipal bond. Every dollar invested in Community Investment Notes is placed in a diversified loan pool with the objective of earning both a financial and a social return. The full value of the capital is invested and then reinvested several times in low-income communities – allowing individual investors to “magnify” the impact of their assets in a way that would be impossible to achieve through a simple charitable donation or other direct-giving efforts. The minimum investment is $1,000, with investors selecting the term (between 1 to 10 years) as well as the interest rate (0-3 percent). Choosing a lower interest rate helps to make credit even more affordable for communities in need. Investors who elect to earn zero interest owe no taxes on their Notes.

Though the 11-year-old Community Investments Notes are not covered by SIPC or FDIC protections, the Foundation has demonstrated an outstanding track record of repayment, with no investor ever losing money. The Community Investment Note holders benefit from rigorous due diligence, diversification and substantial credit enhancements designed to protect individual investors. Community Investment Notes are sold directly by Calvert Foundation and through third party financial professionals, and can be conveniently purchased in brokerage accounts.

Louise Schneider-Moretto, manager, Financial Products and Services Group, Women's World Banking, said: “Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Notes provide critical capital to microfinance institutions throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. This support allows them to focus on serving low income women through products and services customized to meet local needs.”


The following are four examples of microlending, supported by Calvert Foundation investors, around the globe in Bosnia, Colombia, India, and Tanzania.

Bosnia – Women’s World Banking/MI-BOSPO. Mustafi Nezira lived in Zvornik, a Bosnian town bordering Serbia. After the outbreak of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nezira was exiled from her home along with her two children ages 11 and 8. Nezira was among the first to take out a loan from MI-BOSPO, and opened a textile business in Tezla’s local market. She managed to buy land and build a house where she currently lives. Nezira also bought a car which further facilitated her travel to and from Turkey to expand the goods she offers. Nezira plans to continue with her business in order to reacquire the home from which she was forced to flee and provide an education for her children.

Colombia - Fundacion Women’s World Banking Colombia. What began as a Saturday afternoon project for María Alejandrina Vargas and her husband, has become a family-owned business that employs both of them and some neighbors. With the help of a loan from Women’s World Banking Colombia, Maria recycles Colombia’s loofah fruits into body scrub gloves. Since the first purchase, Maria’s gloves have grown in popularity as her business expanded to additional employees. Now she has taken out a second loan with Women’s World Banking to buy a light truck to transport the gloves around the country. Women’s World Banking in Colombia has assisted many women just like Maria in forming and expanding their small business to empower them and their families.

India – Cashpor Micro Credit. The states in India where Cashpor works are some of the most populous, as well as the poorest. These states, which are notorious for their poverty and lack of education opportunities, posed an enormous challenge for Cashpor. Utilizing the Grameen model of microfinance, Cashpor began with small loans to women. With 70 percent of Cashpor’s clientele subsisting on less than a dollar a day, these microloans generated large changes in the region. In the absence of such loan capital, women in these areas typically are dependent on men for income and female children often receive less primary schooling than their male counterparts. The Cashpor model recognizes that empowering women in these regions is essential to ending the cycle of poverty in these states. With 157,000 active clients, Cashpor is helping shape a better life for women and their families across India.

Tanzania - ACCIÓN International/Akiba. Sophia Hassan Said’s shack stands in the Tanzanian sun amid garages and construction sites. Local workers lunch at the makeshift restaurant, which Sophia built with her bare hands from scrap materials. With help from ACCIÓN Tanzanian partner Akiba, the restaurant supports three generations of her family. Before getting a loan from Akiba, Sophia earned $9 a day – not nearly enough to care for her three youngest children who still live at home. With a loan of just $30, Sophia was able to buy cooking supplies in bulk. She bought more plates and containers and stocked up on staples like sugar. With her second loan, she purchased more food products and expanded her menu to include snacks and breakfast items. Two years since her first loan, Sophia now makes $25 a day. Sophia has also been able to employ her eldest daughter, Asha, to help run the restaurant and provide for her own two children, Sophia’s grandchildren. “If it weren’t for Akiba, I wouldn’t be able to care for my family,” says Sophia.


The Calvert Social Investment Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Calvert Foundation uses the power of investments as small as $1,000 to channel affordable credit to low-income communities, working to end poverty by creating hope and economic opportunity where it is most needed. Calvert Foundation receives investment capital from individuals and institutions, and utilizes industry-leading due diligence to manage a diversified portfolio of high social impact investments in the US and abroad.

CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or

EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event is available here as of 6 p.m. ET on December 14, 2006.

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.

© Calvert Foundation

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