The global financial system has been instrumental in building economies and wealth – but it has failed to reach a third of the world’s population. That failure makes people’s lives much harder, stalls economic development, and stifles innovation. Two billion people struggle daily and are left out by the financial system. We’ve effectively asked billions of people to build a home without a hammer or light a fire without a match – it’s possible, but it’s so much harder than it should be.
We’re trying to change that – to give people the financial tools, services, and capability they need.
This year, Accion created one of the most significant new partnerships in our history with India’s IFMR Holdings. IFMR is reaching some of the most remote and excluded villages in India and providing a broad array of appropriate financial services to help the poor. Other new microfinance institution (MFI) partnerships in Uganda and locations in China will also help meet important local needs.
We underscored our commitment to fintech this year with the first close of the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, managed by Quona Capital. The fund is the first global fintech fund for the financially underserved and allows private investors to support financial inclusion directly.
Accion’s other impact investing vehicle, Venture Lab, continues to cultivate innovative seed-stage fintech products and services. Among other approaches, its 24 impact investments harness micro, small, and medium enterprise financing and alternative data credit analysis for the financially excluded. Both the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund and Venture Lab invest in bold and innovative startups that are finding new ways to meet the financial needs of the underserved.
Financial inclusion requires many different kinds of actors, and these actors can build a healthier sector if they work together to identify and address common challenges. Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion serves as a convener, coordinator, and collaborator among the many stakeholders engaged in financial inclusion. The Center investigates the industry’s most pressing questions and latest trends, such as financial capability, the role of big data, digital financial services, and the rate of progress toward full financial inclusion. As its guiding vision, the Center works to ensure that the client always remains the priority. For example, the Smart Campaign – the world’s first consumer protection campaign for the poor – continues to be one of its flagship programs. To date, 64 financial institutions have been certified as adhering to the Campaign’s standards; collectively, those institutions serve more than 34 million clients.
In Africa, where good governance is critical to economic and social development, the Center’s new Africa Board Fellowship program convenes directors and CEOs around governance best practices and is recruiting its fourth cohort of fellows.
It takes rigorous oversight and organization to even begin addressing an issue affecting two billion people. Charity Navigator recognized Accion’s commitments to these values when it awarded us once again this year with its four-star ranking for transparency, accountability, and fiscal management.
Accion’s work expresses our faith in the billions of men and women who are left out of the economic mainstream. We marvel at their effort, creativity, and dignity, and we understand that providing them with these essential tools can help unleash a tremendous reservoir of energy, insights, and potential. We’re committed to helping them build better lives – and a financially inclusive world.
Thank you for your continued support.