For more than 50 years, Accion has worked to create a financially inclusive world that benefits the three billion people who are left out of or poorly served by the financial sector. We’ve helped tens of millions of people living in or near poverty by working with more than 90 microfinance and fintech partners in 40 countries.
We’re proud of that legacy, yet we understand that there’s so much more to do. In 2016, we completed a strategic refresh meant to expand and improve our work. That process helped us clarify our roles finding and growing seed-stage startups that meet the needs of the underserved, helping innovative yet mature financial service providers maximize their impact, and protecting and empowering clients, as well as challenging and engaging the financial inclusion industry.
Accion believes in the transformative potential of fintech, and we believe it is our role as a financial inclusion leader to ensure that emerging technologies meet the financial needs of the poor. Accion’s seed-stage impact investing initiative, Venture Lab, has partnered with 30 inclusive seed-stage startups that harness innovation to drive financial inclusion globally. The team helps its partners overcome strategic challenges, harness innovation, and accelerate financial inclusion.
By scaling innovative yet established financial service providers, we help the best ideas maximize their impact. Accion’s newly-organized Global Advisory Solutions team leverages decades of strategic and operational expertise, combining innovation and a deep understanding of client needs to address product design, channels development, risk analytics, and other challenges. We pursue investments in the markets where we can do the most good: Accion’s follow-on investments in India’s IFMR Holdings and Peru’s Credinka provided new resources that helped both partners reach more clients. We also continued combining decades of experience with insights into emerging technologies to provide the operational and management support our partners need to meet the needs of the underserved. Accion recorded a significant milestone with the launch of the first global fintech fund for the underserved: the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, managed by Quona Capital. The Fund aims to catalyze fintech innovations that can radically improve the quality and availability of financial services to the underserved. We raised $141 million from leading impact investors; their participation underscored fintech’s ability to help the underserved and signaled investors’ eagerness to support these solutions.
Our partners’ work occurs in a wider context, so Accion continued to engage and challenge the industry as well as protecting and empowering clients. The advocacy, research, and insights generated by the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at Accion pushed industry stakeholders to overcome obstacles to financial inclusion. The CFI’s Fellows Program examined key financial inclusion questions and its evaluation of financial health developed a new framework for assessing individual and household financial well-being. The Smart Campaign – the world’s first global financial consumer protection standard – is one of the CFI’s signature initiatives; 83 institutions serving 37 million clients adhere to the Campaign’s rigorous Client Protection Principles.
We understand that our supporters expect us to maintain the highest standards when it comes to transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility. Charity Navigator recognized our commitment to these qualities when it once again awarded us its four-star ranking. Likewise, Accion was selected for the “ImpactAssets 50,” a yearly review of the top impact investment fund managers. This work is as challenging as it is fulfilling. Accion provides millions of people with the tools they need to build better lives, and we strive to help even more people by building a financially inclusive world.
We thank our many partners and supporters for helping to make all of these accomplishments possible.