From Microrate:

January 12, 2012, Washington D.C. – On December 20, 2011, MicroRate, with the support of LuxFLAG and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, launched Luminis™ the first web-based, analytical platform focused on microfinance funds, also known as microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs).

With the success of microfinance and the growing interest in impact investments that deliver both financial returns and social impact, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of global funds that invest in microfinance institutions (MFIs). Until now, there was no single resource to assist investors in identifying and analyzing the wide range of investment options in this growing category of socially responsible investments.

Responding to this need, MicroRate’s team of microfinance and capital market analysts developed a proprietary approach to analyzing impact investment funds, called PRSM™, to assess the funds’ performance, risk, social, and management components. This in-depth analysis forms the core of Luminis, which also provides investors with search and comparison tools, detailed fund profiles and reports, research, and relevant market news.

“MicroRate’s core mission has always been to facilitate the flow of capital-market funding to microfinance to promote the long-term sustainability of this poverty-alleviation tool,” stated Damian von Stauffenberg, founder and chairman of MicroRate. “Since 1996, MicroRate has rated MFIs to achieve this goal. Luminis will now provide unprecedented transparency on the investment-fund level, which will further develop the microfinance industry.”

The current Beta version of the Luminis site includes basic profiles on over 80 MIVs. Users can also preview samples of detailed fund profiles and reports that will be part of the full-release version of the site which is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2012.

“Luminis would not be possible without the cooperation of forward-thinking MIV managers, who have agreed to contribute the data that enable us to deliver clear and comprehensive reports to the investment community,” stated Luis A. Viada, Executive VP of MicroRate and Luminis Director. “Already capital markets investors have responded positively to the Luminis approach and see it as a key tool in researching and differentiating among social investment funds.”

According to Kenneth Hay, Chairman of LuxFLAG “We see the launch of Luminis as a critical step forward, providing the detailed and reliable industry information necessary for investors to evaluate MIVs as a valid impact investment option and a potential alternative asset class producing both financial and social returns.” Of the funds featured on Luminis, 15 hold the LuxFLAG Microfinance Label.

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Luminis Background
The critical need to create transparency on microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs) was recognized both by MicroRate and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg who together in May 2010 signed a collaboration agreement providing public seed capital, through the Luxembourg labeling service, LuxFLAG, to help launch Luminis.

Each of the parties is a leader in the field of microfinance investments, which made the initiative a natural alliance. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a staunch advocate of microfinance and hosts the largest number of MIVs of any global financial center. MicroRate has a long-standing and respected reputation as the premier rating agency of microfinance institutions (MFIs). It is also the industry leader in microfinance investment vehicle evaluation.

Luminis is a service of MicroRate which developed the Luminis approach and is solely responsible for providing the analysis, deliberation, conclusions and opinions reflected in all reporting.

About MicroRate (www.microrate.com)
MicroRate is the first microfinance rating agency dedicated to evaluating performance and risk in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and microfinance funds, also known as microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs). As the oldest and most well-respected organization of its kind, MicroRate has conducted over 600 ratings of 200+ MFIs throughout Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia. MicroRate is a leading social rater and has also become the largest MIV evaluator in the industry.

About LuxFLAG (www.luxflag.org)
The LUXEMBOURG FUND LABELLING AGENCY (LuxFLAG) is an independent, non-profit-making association created in Luxembourg in July 2006. LuxFLAG supports the financing of sustainable development by providing clarity for investors through awarding its Labels to eligible Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs) and Environment-related Investment Vehicles (EIVs). Its objective is to reassure investors that the labelled investment fund invests most of its assets, directly or indirectly, in the microfinance or environment sectors. The MIV/EIV may be domiciled in any jurisdiction that is subject to a level of national supervision equivalent to that available in European Union countries.


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