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.
The 2016 Fintech Finance 35 Click below to view profiles