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November 14, 2016
Cambridge, Massachusettsbased Accion
International has had a hand in building 65 microfinance
institutions in 32 countries since 1961. Under Michael
Schlein, the former Citigroup executive and Securities
and Exchange Commission chief of staff who became Accions
CEO in 2009, the nonprofit is increasingly known for the
fintech financing dimension of its mission to bring financial
services to the poor. We have been building
double-bottom-line enterprises, says Schlein, referring
to Accions goals of having a big social impact and
harnessing the capital markets. Accion has two vehicles
outside of traditional microfinance: Venture Lab, which is
supported by the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, Credit Suisse, and MasterCard, and has made more
than $9 million in seed-stage investments in 24 companies since
2012; and the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, which makes
early- and growth-stage investments and is managed by
Washington-based Quona Capital, a venture firm focused on
fintech in emerging markets. It is the first global
fintech fund for the un- and underbanked in the world,
says Schlein, 55, who has a bachelors degree in economics
and masters in political science from Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and in addition to serving as president
and CEO of Accion chairs the New York City Economic Development
Corp. Frontier Inclusion Fund transactions this year included
participation in a Series C funding for Indian small-business
marketplace IndiaMART and an $8 million round for Mexican
lending platform Konfio, which uses alternative, noncredit data
analytics to gauge a prospective borrowers
creditworthiness. This technology can create a much more
predictive profile of users and provide an on-ramp to further
financial inclusion, explains Schlein, adding that nearly
1,000 fintech companies were vetted in selecting about 30 for
the current portfolio. Were working to ensure that
this technology, and the industrys transition to digital,
ultimately improve lives and drive further inclusion.
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