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The 2015 Fintech Finance 35: Michael Schlein, Accion International

No. 21

Michael Schlein
President and Chief Executive Officer
Accion International

Equally at home in corporate and public service roles, Michael Schlein is currently straddling those worlds while pursuing an emerging-markets fintech strategy. A former senior Citigroup executive and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chief of staff, Schlein since 2009 has been president and CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Accion International, a nonprofit founded in 1961 that has been instrumental in building 64 microfinance institutions in 32 countries. On a financial-inclusion track parallel to that of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see Rodger Voorhies, No. 20), Accion has established two vehicles that are channeling capital toward technology in the developing world: Frontier Investments Group, targeting early- and growth-stage companies since 2009, and Venture Lab, which has invested in about 20 seed-stage start-ups since 2012. “Between the two we have an extraordinary pipeline of disruptive companies that are trying to change the way we meet the financial needs of the poor,” says Schlein, 54. For example, Frontier owns an interest in Tiaxa, a Chilean company that operates primarily in Southeast Asia, applying sophisticated analytics to cell phone usage to make instant assessments of customers’ creditworthiness, even for minuscule “nano-loans.” Explains Schlein, “Transaction sizes are no longer too small.” Another portfolio company, U.K.-based Azimo, brings down the cost of the cross-border remittances that many immigrant populations depend on. Schlein, who in 2014 was appointed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to be chairman of the city’s Economic Development Corp., contends that “all the charity in the world” won’t bring more than 2 billion people worldwide out of poverty. “You need to harness the financial markets.”

The 2015 Fintech Finance 35

1. James Robinson III
& James Robinson IV
RRE Ventures
2. Jane Gladstone
Evercore Partners
3. Matthew Harris
Bain Capital Ventures
4. Steven McLaughlin
Financial Technology Partners
5. Jonathan Korngold
General Atlantic
6. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital
7. Amy Nauiokas & Sean Park
Anthemis Group
8. Thomas Jessop
Goldman Sachs Group
9. Meyer (Micky) Malka
Ribbit Capital
10. Hans Morris
Nyca Partners
11. Maria Gotsch
Partnership Fund for New York City
12. Marc Andreessen
Andreessen Horowitz
13. Barry Silbert
Digital Currency Group
14. Jay Reinemann
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
15. Mariano Belinky
Santander InnoVentures
16. François Robinet
AXA Strategic Ventures
17. Vanessa Colella
Citi Ventures
18. Alan Freudenstein & Gregory Grimaldi
Credit Suisse
19. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSena
SenaHill Partners
20. Rodger Voorhies
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
21. Michael Schlein
Accion International
22. Kenneth Marlin
Marlin & Associates
23. Rumi Morales
CME Ventures
24. Mark Beeston
Illuminate Financial Management
25. Vladislav Solodkiy
26. Fabian Vandenreydt
Innotribe SWIFT
27. Derek White
28. Alex Batlin
29. Jeffrey Greenberg
& Vincenzo
La Ruffa
Aquiline Capital Partners
30. P. Howard Edelstein
REDI Holdings
31. Nektarios Liolios
Startupbootcamp FinTech
32. Roy Bahat
Bloomberg Beta
33. Andrew McCormack
Valar Ventures
34. Lawrence Wintermeyer
Innovate Finance
35. Janos Barberis
FinTech Hong Kong

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