2010s: Focusing on Full Financial Inclusion

In 2009 and 2010, Accion continued to expand its reach around the globe. Key milestones included helping to start microfinance institutions in underserved areas of Inner Mongolia, Cameroon, and Brazil to empower the financially underserved in those regions with high-quality, affordable financial services.

In December 2009, Accion inaugurated Accion Microfinance China (AMC) in Chifeng Prefecture, Inner Mongolia; this microfinance institution represented the first wholly-owned foreign microcredit company (MCC), and only the second wholly foreign-owned MCC in the country. Since then, Accion transitioned ownership of AMC to Grassland Finance Ltd., a Hong Kong holding company incorporated in 2011 with a focus on founding or investing in financial services institutions in China that provide loans and other financial services to China’s vast number of medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSMEs). Today, Grassland has grown to more than 15 branches across six provinces.

In April 2012, Accion launched Accion Venture Lab, the world’s leading seed-stage investor in fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech start-ups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. Since launching, Venture Lab has deployed over $10 million across more than 30 start-ups that work in over 20 countries worldwide.

Accion expanded its work to yet another country in April 2015 when we partnered with Myanmar’s DAWN, a microfinance institution originally launched in 2002 as a program of Save the Children. After decades of isolation beginning in the 1960s, Myanmar rejoined the world economy with a tremendous need for high-quality, affordable services. Accion has helped DAWN integrate new technologies, triple its loan portfolio, and expand to more branches. We believe that our work with DAWN will have broader, catalytic effects across the entire country and encourage additional investments, innovation, and progress for Myanmar’s financially underserved.

In March 2017, Accion announced the launch of the first global fintech fund for the underserved: the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, managed by Quona Capital. The Fund aims to help the world’s three billion financially underserved people by catalyzing fintech innovations that can radically improve the quality and availability of financial services for the underserved. At its launch, the Fund represented over $141 million in commitments from an array of leading institutional investors; these unprecedented commitments signal fintech’s ability to help the underserved and signaled investors’ eagerness to support these solutions. Accion is the Fund’s sponsor and anchor investor; the Fund’s manager, Quona Capital, is an early growth-stage venture firm focused on financial technology for underserved consumers and businesses in emerging markets.

Today, Accion’s work is more urgent than ever. Three billion people are still left out of or are poorly served by the world’s formal financial system. Their lives are much harder because of this. Yet we can solve this problem forever and advance social and economic progress. Accion combines decades of on-the-ground expertise in what the poor need with insights into inclusive fintech to catalyze progress and create a financially inclusive world.

Our work emphasizes creating high-quality, affordable financial products and services. We believe in the need for products and services that people use; though important, access to financial services alone is never enough. We prioritize the clients themselves and advocate for a responsible, standards-based industry. We pursue demonstration models that can have a catalytic effect across the industry. We harness two transformative forces – innovation and the capital markets – to provide the financial tools and services people need to build better lives.