As we strive to close the gender gap in access to financial services and build an inclusive financial system, we’re proud to have a diverse team leading the charge. Three in five people who work at Accion are women, and at Accion Venture Lab, more than half of all full-time staff are women.
We’re highlighting some of these leaders who are working to build a more inclusive world in our annual blog series on the women of Accion and our partners. You can learn about more inspiring women in our previous article for this series.
Here are a few of the leaders we’re proud to work with:
Kshama Fernandes, Managing Director and CEO, Northern Arc
“If a large proportion of the human population is excluded from finance, education, livelihood, medical care, etc., we will never be able to unleash our full potential as human beings. We will only be half as good, half as productive, and half as happy as we could be in a world without the gender gap. Let’s strive to become a complete species!” With such a bold statement, it’s no surprise that Kshama Fernandes has committed her career to creating a more equitable world. As the managing director and CEO of Northern Arc in India, she supports companies that are serving people who have been excluded from the benefits of formal financial services, including women. She sees the effects that come when these underserved populations finally get financial services that meet their needs: “Small sums of money can make a big difference to the lives of many. As an illustration, access to a timely loan gives the ability to pay fees and to not have to pull a girl child out of school at the first indication of financial stress. It means having the liquidity to avail medical treatment in a timely manner for the bread earner so her or his family won’t be homeless. For many women, it means an opportunity to avail a dignified livelihood, and the independence and the empowerment that comes with it.”
Driving financial inclusion is a mission Kshama has embraced wholeheartedly. “Those of us who are fortunate to have had access to finance, have the responsibility to give back to the world,” she says. Whatever mission motivates you, she offers this advice for making an impact: “Don’t underestimate the power you have to change the world for the better. You have your rightful place under the sun — in your families, at your workplaces, in board rooms, and in the wider financial ecosystem.”